Today the Bitcoin Foundation announced that it has retained a lobbying group to press its interests in the nations capital. The selected firm, Thorsen French Advocacy, will “introduce Bitcoin and the foundation to Capitol Hill offices,” according to the foundation.
Consider it a sign of the times. Lobbying and political activity has risen among technology companies, as their business has come under increasing scrutiny. Technology has become increasingly political — think net neutrality, spectrum auctions, antitrust concerns, and even search engines forced to censor results as examples — as politics has become increasingly technological.
Bitcoin isn’t immune to the trend. The cryptocurrency is an interesting case, however, as it is designed to work apart from government purview, and some of its supporters hew closer to a more libertarian political philosophy.
Why, then, would the Bitcoin Foundation want friends in Washington? It addressed the issue in its note announcing the move, stating that bitcoin “doesn’t need governments’ permission” to exist and operate, but also that those same governments “will have a large role in determining Bitcoin’s adoption rate.” Correct.
Rumors of new, stronger regulation of bitcoin in China, for example, can rattle the price of the currency. Bitcoin saw its price decline in the wake of an IRS decision to treat it as a property, and not a currency, raising thorny tax questions. It matters, in other words, what governments think, and do, because they have influence and regulatory power over the banking industries of the world, which are, functionally, still the conduits and gateways into bitcoin for most people.
Bitcoin recently enjoyed a bump in its value that it has largely retained. It currently trades just north of $600, or a little more than half of its 52-week highs.