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Tuesday, 06 March 2018 09:33

Does Australia have any policy on cryptocurrency? It appears not

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Australia has no official policy on cryptocurrencies. That is the only conclusion one can draw, after nearly a month of chasing the minister on cyber security, Angus Taylor, to get an answer.

On 7 February, iTWire wrote to Taylor, asking whether Australia was thinking of any kind of regulation of cryptocurrencies, given that China, India, the US and South Korea were reported to be considering regulation.

That evening, I had a response from Sarah Bucknell, a media adviser to Taylor, who asked for some more information about the proposed story and the deadline.

My response was that in the last few days, China, South Korea, India and the US had expressed their intentions to either regulate or else said they would ban cryptocurrencies.

Relevant links to news stories were provided and I asked:

"What is Australia doing? Is there any move to regulate these assets? Is the government seized of the matter? Or is there no interest in it at all? That's what the story is about – or what I would like it to be.

"Deadline? Well, until something arrives from you, there is no story. If you can send me something by 11am on Thursday, it would be good." The Thursday mentioned was 8 February.

On 13 February, I sent Bucknell another email asking what had happened, and requesting that if there was no response, then that was okay, but that I needed to know so I could go ahead with my story.

On 26 February, I contacted Bucknell by phone but was only able to leave a message as nobody picked up the line.

Thus one can only come to the following conclusions:

  • Australia has no policy on cryptocurrencies.
  • Taylor will only speak to big media organisations; he appeared on the ABC last week, claiming that Australia was well ahead of other countries in cyber policy.
  • Media advisers figure that pesky and awkward queries about their bosses' policy responsibilities should be ignored.
  • All ministers who take up the cyber security portfolio follow in the steps of Dan Tehan. As detailed  here, that's not the best path to follow.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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