UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said her administration will look into the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin after concerns of their abuse by criminals.
Speaking to Bloomberg on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, UK prime minister Theresa May was discussing a possible ‘clamp down’ on technology companies like Facebook and Google for not living up to their ‘social responsibilities’. Her administration was working with tech giants, who are cooperative, on issues including ‘child pornography on the net [and] the terrorist and extremist use of the internet,” May revealed, stressing that there was “more to be done”.
It was at this point when Bloomberg’s chief editor John Micklethwait brought up the topic of cryptocurrencies. “As their name implies,” Micklethwait said referring to bitcoin as a specific example, “they’re partly to hide money often used in the activities you’ve just described from people like you and governments.”
The bait was set. Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief pressed on, to ask: “Isn’t that an area where maybe you should try to clamp down too?”
In what is sure to make misleading headlines about a government-led “crackdown” on the UK’s cryptocurrency trading markets and the local ecosystem, May responded:
“In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously, precisely because of the way they can be used, particularly by criminals.”
To be precise, the high-profile political figure’s remarks are specifically referring to the abuse of cryptocurrencies by cybercriminals. The UK prime minister did not reveal any specific policies on how the government might look into cryptocurrency trading or usage nor promise any action against them.
“It’s something that has been developing…obviously increasingly developing,” May stated. “I think it’s something that we do need to look at,” suggesting the government will keep tabs on cryptocurrency activity in the future.
If authorities were to ‘clamp down’ on bitcoin activity, they’d do well to start with bitcoin buyer George Osborne, the UK’s former chancellor of the exchequer until last year. Speaking in late 2015, the chancellor stressed the government would “go out of our way” to make the UK the global hub of financial technologies. “Digital currencies may now well play a big part in our financial future,” Osborne said at the time.