1994-08-07 - Re: e$: Cypherpunks Sell Concepts

Header Data

From: Hal <hfinney@shell.portal.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 2941e6c564d29f327bdd655ea9d881474345f7609bf4dcbcfe94d38f7ef38f10
Message ID: <199408070209.TAA08709@jobe.shell.portal.com>
Reply To: <199408062229.SAA24471@zork.tiac.net>
UTC Datetime: 1994-08-07 02:09:27 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 6 Aug 94 19:09:27 PDT

Raw message

From: Hal <hfinney@shell.portal.com>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 94 19:09:27 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: e$: Cypherpunks Sell Concepts
In-Reply-To: <199408062229.SAA24471@zork.tiac.net>
Message-ID: <199408070209.TAA08709@jobe.shell.portal.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

There are two legal problems that I could see being used against digital
cash.  The first is the civil war era prohibition on banks issuing private
bank notes.  This was done in an attempt to force people to switch over to
U.S. government notes, and was successful.  (Actually, it is not a pro-
hibition per se, but rather a prohibitive tax on the use of such notes.)
I don't have a reference to where this actually appears in the code, but
I have read about it in many histories of currency in the U.S.  It seems to
me that digital cash issued by a bank is functionally very similar to a
paper bank note issued by that same bank, suggesting that this law would

The second problem is the regulation of "scrip" and barter systems.  This
was pointed out on the list last year by someone who had actually been
involved in a private barter or scrip system which was shut down by the
government, at great cost to all concerned.  These regulations can be
found at 26 CFR 1.6045-1.  From subsection (f)(5)(ii), "Scrip is a token
issued by the barter exchange that is transferable from one member or
client, of the barter exchange to another member or client, or to the
barter exchange, in payment for property or services".  I think this one
will eventually get the "NetBank" people in trouble.  (You call a 900
number and in exchange for a charge on your phone bill they give you a
digital token you can exchange for property or services by participating
merchants.)  Barter exchanges are required to get the names and SS numbers
of all participants and report their transactions to the IRS.  This would
be inconsistent with the privacy we seek from ecash.

There are probably other regulations but I would think these two would have
to be addressed initially, at least by anyone thinking of setting up these
services within the United States.