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Thailand Government Declares Bitcoin Illegal 185

Posted by timothy
from the money-with-government-that's-unheard-of dept.
hypnosec writes that the government of Thailand "has declared Bitcoin illegal following which all trading activities related to the electronic currently have been suspended indefinitely. Through a message posted on its website, the Bitcoin Co. Ltd. has said officials of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department cited absence of applicable laws, capital controls "and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets" as reasons because of which the virtual currency is illegal. This ruling implies that activities such as buying & selling of Bitcoins, buying or selling any service in exchange of Bitcoins, sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand, and receiving Bitcoins from anyone outside of Thailand are illegal. This has forced the company to indefinitely suspend operations."
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Thailand Government Declares Bitcoin Illegal

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:47AM (#44421931)

    Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

    The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

    • by elucido (870205)

      Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

      The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

      Easily.

      • by Camael (1048726)

        Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

        The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

        Easily.

        Bitcoin's weakness has always been the desire of its holders to, at some point, convert Bitcoin to fiat currency such as USD and so long as this remains true, governments will always have some measure of control.

        Insofar as the Streisand effect is concerned, this will draw more people's attention to Bitcoin yes, but it does not mean the actual usage of Bitcoin will increase. In the same way, people may consume newspaper reports on serial killers en masse, but this will not lead to an increase of serial killi

    • by elucido (870205) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:53AM (#44421985)

      Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

      The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

      A government can make it illegal by proving it's only used by criminals, pedophiles, terrorists, and gang members. A government can prove this by entrapment, and other corrupt practices, to make anyone they want look like that.

      So a few big stings of pedophiles and child pornographers using Bitcoin and that is all it would take to kill Bitcoin. The reason being is when you have the words pedophile and Bitcoin in the same new story over and over again whether it's true or not it forms a subconscious association in the viewers mind. It's classical conditioning.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Don't pedophiles use hard currency, credit cards, cars, clothing too? I'll bet they use household cleaners all the time. Shouldn't government ban those things as well to prevent pedophilia?

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        hmm? none of those things are required for government to make things illegal. they don't need to show things like that, they can just make it illegal. asia is full of things that are illegal for random reasons like the west as well. you're talking about propaganda to make people want it to be illegal, thus making it illegal through public opinion.

        and ffs you can't import boxers or even boxes with the thai flag to thailand, singapore has banned jehovas witnesses magazines...

        • Singapore has banned jehovas witnesses magazines.

          You say that like it's a bad thing.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Singapore has banned jehovas witnesses magazines.

            You say that like it's a bad thing.

            Yeah, who wouldn't love the Singaporean Inquisition? Perhaps the GP is a heretic?

      • by bunratty (545641)
        Governments can make anything they want to illegal. The U.S. government still claims marijuana is a highly dangerous drug with no known medicial properties, and therefore it is a Schedule I drug. The government doesn't have to prove anything to make something illegal.
        • They just have to convince enough people that it ought to be illegal. Which was the OP's entire point.

          • And by "enough", you mean, of course, the required percentage of their respective legislative bodies. Beyond that, no one else really matters.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thailand is run by a military junta with a thin coat of democracy paint on the outside, for appearances' sake. They can ban whatever the fuck they want, at least within their own country. Just don't go there.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      you can get death penalty in those areas for drugs.
      are those areas full of drugs? absolutely.

      they got some other funny laws too.

    • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @09:13AM (#44422141)

      The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

      No it isn't. Ordinarily I would agree with you but frankly very few people care about Bitcoin or have any reason to care about Bitcoin. NOBODY who is doing meaningful amounts of currency exchanges is going to want to bother with it. Since I don't buy or sell illegal drugs I honestly cannot conceive of any circumstance under which I would use it, even if I ignore the inherent exchange rate risk and liquidity problems.

      • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @11:15AM (#44423725) Homepage Journal

        I would agree with you but frankly very few people care about Bitcoin or have any reason to care about Bitcoin.

        You probably don't care much about Yuan-Dollar exchange rates much either, but you sure as hell have reason to care about it!

        We used to see the (approximate and debatable) 3% that Visa and Mastercard skims from nearly all sales transactions, as merely the cost of doing business, and a worthwhile expense in exchange for the service they offer. And yet, now The People have the tech to avoid that charge, so what used to be a 3% expense is considered 3% economic damage, a parasite. Most of us probably don't really have visceral bad feelings about Visa quite on the scale implied by the word "parasite" and yet, whenever you're buying a larger ticket item (a house, a car) you negotiate like hell over figures much smaller than 3%. And when I think about how much money I spent on my car, compared to how much money I have spend on fueling and maintaining my car with a plastic card, the plastic card's costs dwarf anything I ever negotiated with my car dealer. Visa and Mastercard's expenses are right there in your face, for anyone who looks into it. There's reason to move to something cheaper.

        Or threaten to move to something cheaper. You don't necessarily have to do it, as long as you can prove you're willing to do it. Who knows, maybe Bitcoin is what'll get Visa merchant charges down to 0.3%. Isn't it interesting that your grandparents had the same percentage skimmed off their lives, whereas you today live in a higher tech world where the expenses of providing transactions services, are tiny by comparison.

        In the end, Bitcoin is just another market force. There are plenty of indirect ones out there (exchange rates, decisions made by central banks, etc) that you don't think about much, or ever take actions on, and yet they have a profound effect on your economic well-being. It's fine to say you don't care, but for fuck's sake, don't say people don't have reason to care!

        • by Rhacman (1528815)
          I just like the fact that when several hundred dollars of fraudulent purchases were made against my card that I was notified and ultimately re-imbursed for the total amount. Who do I talk to if I need to be reimbursed for a fraudulent transaction or loss of my Bitcoin wallet? What is the customer service contact number?

          Bitcoin is the digital equivalent of burying a chest of gold coins in your backyard. Perhaps you are perfect and nobody will ever find it and you'll never lose or forget where you hid it
          • by lgw (121541)

            Bitcoin is digital cash, not the equivalent of a credit card nor checking account. It's cash that you don't need a checking account to spend at a distance, and some people think that changes the world (I'm a bit unclear why). The primary use today seems to be for the "anonymousness", though I think that debatable - just as the US government requires all serial numbers to be recorded by banks for any large cash transaction, making it not so anonymous by analysis, the NSA no doubt records the "serial number

          • My bank just dinged money out of my escrow to pay a tax bill I received. It came to my house, I didn't bother with it, and it was paid in 3 days by my bank. I never set this up. Mortgage does that.

            I would be willing to pay a percentage to have some company automatically cover my taxes, ground rent, municipal utilities (government supplied shit), and so on. My private industry utilities and even my mortgage broker automatically debit my account, but the government expects me to actually pay them. I wan

            • by cusco (717999)
              You can set up an escrow account to do that if you want, most banks or credit unions would be able to point you to someone reputable to do that for a fee. Alternatively you can set up a trust with your financial institution and have all bills routed there, again for a fee.

              For myself, I feel just the exact opposite. I want to know when money is coming into or leaving my accounts, how much we spent for electricity or water this month, and the insurance bill reminds me that it's time to shop around again
              • For me it's just like the fraud protection Visa gives you for 3% (or 1% or 0.5%--they get negotiated down): I'm paying for someone else to prevent retarded bullshit from happening. Cheap insurance. I check my electricity usage and other such things when it fancies me; but I'll have a $600 surge protection scheme (50,000 amp surge at the breaker, power strips/UPS on equipment, single socket plug surge protectors on i.e. Refrigerator, oven, etc.) and a $300 TED-5000C to measure electricity use. Cheap insu
          • I just like the fact that when several hundred dollars of fraudulent purchases were made against my card that I was notified and ultimately re-imbursed for the total amount.

            Cool! I can definitely imagine a market for insured transactions, bonded sellers, or things like that. Maybe you're one of those people who would use it that way, for every single transaction. And there's nothing wrong with that. You would pay for it, though, just like you currently always pay for it whenever you use Visa and MasterC

        • You probably don't care much about Yuan-Dollar exchange rates much either, but you sure as hell have reason to care about it!

          The yuan is a significant factor in the world economy. Bitcoin is not. Bitcoin is a barely used, illiquid, volatile currency that most people don't understand and even fewer people actually use. Should bitcoin become significant someday, then I will reconsider my position. I don't realistically see that happening though.

          We used to see the (approximate and debatable) 3% that Visa and Mastercard skims from nearly all sales transactions, as merely the cost of doing business, and a worthwhile expense in exchange for the service they offer. And yet, now The People have the tech to avoid that charge

          Bitcoin is not that tech, nor does it offer any reasonable prospect of becoming that tech anytime soon. Visa and the rest have an existing global network, transaction processing infrast

        • Say I want to buy physical goods in person and pay with BTC. But Wi-Fi isn't available everywhere I shop, and cellular carriers charge $360 a year for a smartphone data plan, and I haven't found a U.S. carrier that takes payment in BTC. Are there BTC wallets that work without both parties having to have their own Internet connection at the time of sale?
          • $360 a year for a smartphone data plan

            If you spend something around U$20K yearly in your credit cards you pay U$600 for this privilege, my friend.

      • by pakar (813627)

        Well, currently there is about ~1.4Billion USD in value in the bitcoin network.. Well, maybe quite a bit less but even having more than $100M should say something about the usage..

        Bitcoin's are as much for illegal things as normal cash is, the only difference is that it's not government-controlled..
        Some things that it would be perfect for:

        - Micro-transactions for buying services on the internet.
        - Simple way to transfer money all over the world.
        - Generic way to buy things instead of VISA/Mastercard etc. No o

    • by Grismar (840501)

      The Streisand effect applies when you're trying to avert attention from something but inadvertently attract attention to it in doing so. I don't think it applies here. Nobody is trying to avert attention from anything. In fact, I'd expect their government to be pleased as punch with so much free publicity for a simple policy change.

      If your point is that telling people about illegal currency only makes them want to use it more, I think you're overestimating the general appeal of bitcoin. Main reason for bit

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

      The Streisand effect on BitCoin is going to be huge.

      Yeah, but what can you do with BitCoin? Without using any currency exchange, that is.

      At some point, it's got to be converted to currency and that's where the government gets you. The US government isn't worried about BitCoin because they know that fact - that the exchanges are the weak point in any currency system. (And no, BitCoin isn

    • Kids are always curious about things their parents forbid. Adults are always curious about things their government forbid.

      So that's why everyone wants to bone 12 year olds these days.

      That and all the HGH and BGH in milk and the huge push to drink cow milk has given 11 year old girls double-Ds.

    • by mjwx (966435)
      can government stop bit coin... Yes. Can the Thai government stop bit coin. Weeeeellllll lets list a few things that are also illegal in Thailand. 1. Drugs (including OTC pseudoephedrine and codeine). 2. Prostitution. 3. Taking statues of Buddha out of the country. 4. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet. 5. Riding a motorcycle with more than two passengers. 6. Operating a vehicle whilst intoxicated. 7. Buying Alcohol between 12 and 3 PM (IIRC, the hours may incorrect, but you get the idea). Yet these th
  • by conner_bw (120497) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:49AM (#44421941) Homepage Journal

    Bitcoin illegal? Damn, how am I going to by my illicit drugs now?

    • by superwiz (655733)
      Well, now that you've posted this on the Internet, you'll probably have an opportunity to buy them with blow jobs and cigarettes very shortly.
  • Rule of Law (Score:5, Informative)

    by niftydude (1745144) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:50AM (#44421949)
    In a country where insulting the king carries a 10 year penalty [nytimes.com], as far as the king is concerned, the concept of Rule of Law essentially means: I rule, you follow the law.
    • by fwice (841569)

      replying to remove incorrect mod!

    • "concept of Rule of Law essentially means:" I am the law.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd imagine karma points on /. to be the equivalent to any form of currency. It takes years of quality posting to bring up that karma and that's a lot of work. It's worth something, it's a token, and it's digital. Got a problem with that Thailand?

  • Its inevitable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:51AM (#44421967)
    Countries that tightly control moving money in and out will restrict or ban bitcoin
  • by Dthief (1700318) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:54AM (#44421993)
    " This has forced the company to indefinitely suspend operations"

    huh? which company....bitcoin doesnt only run out of thailand, does it?

    • by lxs (131946)

      Suspend operations in Thailand. At least that's what I gather from other news outlets.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You might say that bitcoin operations are "thai'd up" at the moment.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Thai as I might, I can't ignore that pun.

    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @09:10AM (#44422105)
      I was thinking the same thing. There are no Thailand-based bitcoin companies at all. And they say "trading activities related to the electronic currently have been suspended indefinitely." Um, no, it's encrypted and mostly unblockable. So unless they inspect every computer and remove the bitcoin client software, they can't block it.

      I think the BS news that they're puffing up is that the Bank of Thailand is no longer accepting electronic fund transfers from the bitcoin exchanges. As for "stopping trading or use" all I have to say is lol, no.
      • by Xest (935314)

        Oh no, however will BitCoin cope with the inability to convert into Thai WhateverTheFucks.

        Yes, Thai WhateverTheFucks, because although I know many currencies in the world off the top of my head, Thailand's is that unimportant I really can't even remember what their currency is called, if it was ever relevant enough for me to have ever known in the first place.

        Call me when it can no longer be switched to US dollars, Euros, Pound Sterling or whatever and maybe then I'll care because whilst it can still be con

        • by GTRacer (234395)
          Per Wikipedia, the Thai WTF is called the baht. Cheers!
          • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Now it makes sense! Bitcoin for years has been using the Bhat symbol on the keyboard to represent Bitcoin similar to $ for dollars. That explains why they're not thrilled.
            • by idontgno (624372)

              The Thai government was concerned about the risk of confusion: The "bahtcoin".

              Yeah. You just did the Batman TV theme [wikipedia.org] in your head. Admit it.

            • by ae1294 (1547521)

              Awwww shit.. I was looking forward to making all the underage girl prostitutes cry by paying them in bitcoins on my next visit.... I was so looking forward to that... :-(

        • You seem to be unaware that the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 was touched of by the collapse of the Thai Bhat. That is not unimportant.

          • by pla (258480)
            You seem to be unaware that the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 was touched of by the collapse of the Thai Bhat. That is not unimportant.

            I would consider that very relevant to this news, actually!

            As in, if I lived in SE Asia, right about now I'd do my damnedest to convert all my liquid assets to gold, ammo (if legal there), Euros, and yes, BTC.

            History has a funny but pretty consistent trend, that when a country starts to get really paranoid about locking down control over its currency supply, that cur
          • by Xest (935314)

            That was 16 years ago. Did you miss the rise of China, and the growth of India in the meantime? Even Indonesia's economy makes Thailand look irrelevant now.

    • by Jon_E (148226) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @10:15AM (#44422899)

      That would be the Bitcoin Co Ltd exchange (https://bitcoin.co.th/) .. that's having issues with the Bank of Thailand (Thailand's central/reserve bank) ..bahtcoin is still open for the moment

      This appears to be ramping up - last month bitspend had it's accounts frozen from Chase citing potential money laundering, and new allegations of ponzi schemes are making all the federal regulators nervous - as they should be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:58AM (#44422029)

    next we'll hear that "american goverment outlaws high interest savings" when Bank of America won't give someone a decent rate.

    • by cgt (1976654) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @09:33AM (#44422367)
      Bank of Thailand is the central bank of Thailand. Bank of America is not part of the US government.
      • The central bank of the united states is The Federal Reserve.
        From Wikipedia:

        In its role as the central bank of the United States, the Fed serves as a banker's bank and as the government's bank.

        and

        Each regional Bank's board consists of nine members. Members are broken down into three classes: A, B, and C. There are three board members in each class. Class A members are chosen by the regional Bank's shareholders, and are intended to represent member banks' interests. Member banks are divided into three categories large, medium, and small. Each category elects one of the three class A board members. Class B board members are also nominated by the region's member banks, but class B board members are supposed to represent the interests of the public. Lastly, class C board members are nominated by the Board of Governors, and are also intended to represent the interests of the public

        So we have a central bank, that is for the most part, run by the banks themselves.

        • So if our "bank for banks" is largely run by their customers, I guess it's more of a central credit union than a central bank.

          Of course, unlike Thailand and some other countries, in the "bank for banks" is separate from the Treasury Department, which is purely governmental. The Bank Of Thailand is both the banking facilitator like the Fed, and also the issuer and regulator of currency, like our Treasury Department. I think I like having them split like we do.
    • The Bank of Thailand is both the central bank, like the US Federal Reserve, and the issuer of currency, like the US Treasury Department.
      It is a government institution.

      Here in the US, we've separated the two to some extent. The Treasury Department makes and enforces the rules, the government role.
      The Federal Reserve is more like a "central credit union" than a central bank - it's primary role is to serve as "bank for banks", where banks can deposit money or get 24 hour loans. In Thailand, as in many countr
    • by lgw (121541)

      next we'll hear that "american goverment outlaws high interest savings" when Bank of America won't give someone a decent rate.

      A joke, I know, but AFAIK, high interest savings accounts are illegal in the US. Still capped at 5.25% unless I missed that change. That's why Eurodollars get popular when interest rates are high (European banks don't have such regulation on dollar-based accounts).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So Litecoin is ok I guess..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's Thailand's problem. Here in the United States, we will continue to trade it, laws be damned.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It's the good old American way like claim salting and selling the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Meneth (872868) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @09:01AM (#44422039)

    At the conclusion of the meeting senior members of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department advised that due to lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets the following Bitcoin activities are illegal in Thailand:

    • Buying Bitcoins
    • Selling Bitcoins
    • Buying any goods or services in exchange for Bitcoins
    • Selling any goods or services for Bitcoins
    • Sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand
    • Receiving Bitcoins from anyone located outside of Thailand

    Based on such a broad and encompassing advisement, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. therefore has no choice but to suspend operations until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existance of Bitcoin. The Bank of Thailand has said they will further consider the issue, but did not give any specific timeline.

    • "... until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existance of Bitcoin."

      The laws *were* updated to account for Bitcoin.
      BItcoin just isn't happy with they way the laws perceive them.
  • I should thing their monetary authorities more concerned with money laundering around their globally infamous prostitution and heroin trades, rather than the drop in the bucket of illicit activity carried out via Bitcoin. Perhaps it's just that they haven't figured out how to take bribes via Bitcoin yet.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      I think you'll find that's exactly why - bitcoin is a potential vector for that money laundering. It's got other uses besides being a pyramid scheme scam aimed at geeks if that hot potato is unloaded quickly enough.
  • Many Americans are surprised to learn that in many Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and China, what is not specifically legal is viewed as illegal. If there are no laws about something, it is illegal there. Obviously the authorities do not choose to enforce the law against the vast majority of people's illegal actions, but that is the way their legal system works.
  • Three things:

    The press release says that the government said existing laws don't take into account allowing an exchange to trade a virtual currency (yet).

    The article sensationalizes this by saying "banned", implying that it was legal before.

    Lastly, the author of the article seems to think without an exchange, Bitcoin can't be traded, which of course is false. So, by "banning" the existence of a commercial exchange, the author concludes that Bitcoin entirely has been banned in the country.

    I could be missing

  • So for a Thai, storing 33 characters of information on your computer is illegal? That's real tough to enforce. How long before a Thai tattoos a bitcoin on their arm to prove a point?

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