Russia has been in the news for many reasons over the last year, from the military conflict in the Ukraine to the Russian Ruble falling in value by over 50% in 2014. Russia has also developed issues with the digital currency Bitcoin, as far as the government and their aims to ban it. Their views on Bitcoin may be tied to the devaluation issues plaguing the Ruble, and the government’s need to protect its domestic currency from any and all perceived competitors. These problems with Bitcoin has led to the banning of any and all online website information related to cryptocurrencies earlier this year in some Russian areas. Now, a landmark resolution of precedence has been established by a Russian court that works in the favor of Russian bitcoin users and webmasters, at least in the short term.
2015 started the year with the Roskomnadzor, the national website regulator, similar to the FCC in the United States, banning access to bitcoin information through several leading bitcoin websites. These included, but not limited to, bitcoin.org, bitcoinconf.ru, and btcsec.com (now bits.media). The ban by the local Nevyansk Town Court, which governs a town of 25,000 in northern Russia, was adopted nationwide, which brought the appeal by the sites’ representatives. Head of bits.media Ivan Tikhonov had this to say about the prospects prior to the appeal
“I believe the session involved evident faults. It should be reminded that (digital currencies) are currently not banned in Russia, so there is no basis to deem information related to them prohibited within Russia. I think we’ve got all the chances to win the case.”
According to bits.media, which was formerly BTCsec.com, the Sverdlovsk Oblast Court has now overturned the Nevyansk Town Court order blocking websites containing crypto-currency-related information. This will allow foreign and domestic bitcoin website information to be obtained online.
“Personally I’m very happy with the outcome. I hope those positive shifts in understanding crypto-currency technologies will go on. In my opinion, the better people understand what it is, the better will be their attitude. There will be less fear and more learning of the technologies. They might apply them where they can be of benefit to people”.
The victory may be short-lived if the Russian government does ban Bitcoin, as has been rumored for over a year. Recent surveys have shown a decent perception and interest in Bitcoin by the Russian proletariat. Bitcoin’s ultimate fate in the country may be tied to the Ruble’s ability to rebound from heavy devaluation. Signs are good, as the ruble is up 20% versus the global reserve U.S. Dollar in Q1 of 2015 , a miraculous rebound.
This also underscores the issues inherent in having a government agency regulate a global decentralized information resource like the Internet. Banning the sharing of information, both foreign or domestic, seems to be the next step, defeating the Internet’s purpose. Perhaps that is the idea behind creating regulations for it in the first place?
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