As CoinDesk reports, the brief was filed to “ensure that the broader bitcoin community” in the state won’t be subjected to a legal interpretation that would put “undue restrictions” on other Florida bitcoin users. At issue is the charge leveled at bitcoin seller Pascal Reid, who is being charged with operating as an unauthorized money transmitter. Under Florida law, money transmitters are required to be corporate entities.
The Bitcoin Foundation’s view, stated in their blog post about the brief, is clear:
The foundation’s position at its core is this: state prosecutors are improperly applying Florida statutes regulating “money service businesses” to individuals conducting peer-to-peer sales of bitcoins.
Bitcoin Foundation Global Policy Counsel Jim Harper told CoinDesk: “If individuals’ bitcoin transactions made them subject to the registration and recordkeeping requirements of businesses, that would be a heavy impediment to bitcoin use. Whether the charges are serious or trivial, the law should be applied accurately and based on its terms.”
The Florida law was written long before peer-to-peer systems like bitcoin existed, and a ruling that such entities are illegal could have huge consequences for cryptocurrency adoption in the state. Although the criminal case is pending, there has been no move by lawmakers in the state to suppress bitcoin use in Florida, lending some strength to arguments that the criminal charges of a bitcoin transaction are an example of overreach by law enforcement.