Former U.S. representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul is concerned about the government’s ability to monitor cryptocurrency usage.
Paul, a retired Republican lawmaker with strong libertarian leanings, has long advocated that the U.S. should return its currency to the gold standard. Although many small-government advocates are fans of bitcoin, Paul has historically expressed skepticism — despite the fact that fans created a now-defunct altcoin in his honor. In a recent interview, he told financial news outlet TheStreet that this year’s rapid bitcoin price rally has not yet convinced him to trade his gold bars for bitcoins.
Paul conceded that he does not understand the technology behind cryptocurrency, but he says he not consider it to be money or a store of value since it is not backed by the gold standard. He also expressed concern that the government can easily track cryptocurrency usage:
“There is too much surveillance already on how the currencies are transferred, [how] the reports have to be made by the exchanges to the IRS,” said Paul, now the Chief Ambassador for Goldco — an investment firm that also offers a Cryptocurrency IRA. “If it is a really good deal and a good process rest assured the government will be looking at it very carefully…it makes me very nervous.”
Those fears are not unfounded. As CCN.com reported, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has actively contracted with a blockchain analysis firm to help them unmask U.S. citizens who are not paying taxes on their bitcoin investments and transactions. However, the activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit) is expected to facilitate the creation of technologies that will provide bitcoin users with increased privacy. Additionally, several altcoins — most notably monero and zcash — were developed with anonymity as a chief priority.
In any case, Paul added that he is a proponent of competing currencies, and he thinks that people should have the ability to choose their own medium of exchange as long as there is no fraud involved.
“If the people want it and want to use it, the government should stay out of it,” he concluded.
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