India Mulls 10-Year Sentencing for Cryptocurrency Users

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India has made it clear that it really, really doesn't want people to use cryptocurrency. Mumbai-based BloombergQuint reported yesterday that a new bill seeking to introduce a decade-long jail sentence for mining, holding, buying or selling any cryptocurrency is on its way to the Parliament of India for consideration.

This bill is called the Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019. It's reportedly meant to address the use of cryptocurrency for tax evasion, illegal money transfers and illicit transactions. Bloomberg's report on the bill came shortly after Quartz warned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election to a second term could lead to even stricter regulations on the Indian cryptocurrency market.

That market was already somewhat unstable, especially since the country's Supreme Court sided with the Reserve Bank of India in forbidding other banks from working with cryptocurrency in July 2018, with the central bank saying in April that it would support blockchain and smart contracts but not allow testing of cryptocurrency-related projects. The Reserve Bank of India denied any involvement with this latest cryptocurrency bill, however.

India isn't the only country keeping an eye on cryptocurrency. China has considered banning crypto-mining as well, ostensibly because the company fears it doesn't adhere to local laws and contributes to pollution, although some analysts have said the country merely wants to reset the cryptocurrency market so it can exert greater control over it. Officials in New York and other states have also expressed concern about the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Yet cryptocurrency mining could still be on the rise in the U.S. E*Trade reportedly wants to allow Bitcoin and Ethereum trading on its platform, and Facebook was said to be considering a cryptocurrency of its own. India's cryptocurrency market is on the brink of collapse because doing pretty much anything but saying the word "cryptocurrency" is outlawed, but halfway across the world, it's on the verge of being institutionalized by corporations.

Which isn't to say the effects of these bans--should they be instituted--wouldn't be felt in the U.S. Many companies already fear losing access to the Chinese market because of the ongoing feud between the Chinese and U.S. governments. We suspect graphics companies wouldn't be any happier to see mining-related sales drop, as 1.3 billion people are suddenly threatened with a decade in prison if they're caught running a cryptocurrency mining rig.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.