WASHINGTON (8/15/13)--Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeking information on "any policies, procedures, guidance or advisories" the agency has issued related to virtual currencies. Carper is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Coburn is its ranking Republican member.
The senators' letter notes virtual currencies--or, digitally based money--are receiving increased positive attention and use. However, the currency's "near-anonymous and decentralized nature has also attracted criminals who value few things more than being allowed to operate in the shadows."
"Given that virtual currencies appear to be an important emerging area...the (committee) has initiated an inquiry" into the currencies, such as Bitcoin, that are used in online transactions, the joint letter said. The New York Times and other media outlets reported that the inquiry letter was sent to major federal financial regulatory and law enforcement agencies.
The letter also asks that its recipient share "any ongoing coordination of your agency with any other" federal, state or local government, as well as "any plan or strategies" regarding ongoing initiatives regarding virtual currencies.
The letter is dated Aug. 12, the same day New York state's financial regulator announced it is launching a similar inquiry with a eye toward possible future regulation.