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Regulation

Russia’s telecom regulator blacklists Binance website

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Authorities in Russia appear to be going after Binance — the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange — as its domain is now in the list of prohibited websites in the country. On Sept. 24, Binance officially announced on its Russian Telegram channel that Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has added the website to the register of platforms disseminating prohibited information.

According to the announcement, Binance has been placed in the list due to distribution of data related to the acquisition of digital currencies like Bitcoin (BTC). Gleb Kostarev, Binance’s head of operations for Russia and the CIS, told Cointelegraph that the exchange announced the news immediately after the exchange received a notification from Roskomnadzor.

Despite the domain being placed on the list of prohibited websites, Russians can still access it without any additional tools like a VPN. As of press time, the URL can be found on the official register of blacklisted sites of Roskomnadzor. According to the data, the website was listed on June 2, 2020, while the access to the website “is not limited.”

In the public announcement, Binance executives emphasized that they haven’t received any information about the restriction prior to Sept. 24, stating:

“We were not previously notified of any claims by law enforcement agencies, civil government services or courts prior to receiving the above notification. We have now engaged our legal counsels for further advice and would like to assure all of our Russian users that there will be no disruption to their services in the interim and that their funds are safe.”

As Binance’s website was purportedly blacklisted by Roskomnadzor in June 2020, the action appears to be unrelated to Binance’s plans to launch its crypto debit card in Russia since the plans for it were announced slightly later, in September 2020.

In late August, Roskomnadzor also blocked BestChange.ru, a major cryptocurrency website in Russia that provides an aggregator service of about 400 local crypto exchange websites.



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Regulation

El Salvadorians take to the streets to protest Bitcoin law

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Protesters calling themselves the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block have come out against El Salvador’s government passing a law making Bitcoin legal tender.

A Tuesday tweet from local news outlet El Mundo shows El Salvadorians carrying banners saying “no to Bitcoin” in the streets of San Salvador demanding a repeal of the country’s Bitcoin law. Legislative assembly members Anabel Belloso and Dina Argueta addressed the protesters after first meeting the group separated by a barrier of razor wire.

In a letter made available at the protest, the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block group claimed that President Nayib Bukele passed the law making the cryptocurrency legal tender in the country without proper consultations with the people. It also cited the volatility of Bitcoin (BTC), comparing investing in the cryptocurrency to playing the lottery: “betting on the lottery is a voluntary act, while Bitcoin is required by law.”

Related: Coercion and coexistence: How El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law may change global finance

However, the group’s main grievance around the Bitcoin legal framework seemed to be centered around a perceived disparity in the cryptocurrency’s usage by the government when compared with the average resident in El Salvador. Protesters said Bitcoin “only serves some large businessmen, especially those linked to the government, to launder ill-gotten money.”

“Entrepreneurs who put their capital in Bitcoin will not pay taxes on their earnings,” said the letter. “In addition, to apply Bitcoin the government will spend millions of dollars of the taxes paid by the people.”

They added:

“Bitcoin would facilitate public corruption and the operations of drug, arms and human traffickers, extortionists and tax evaders. It would also cause monetary chaos. It would hit people’s salaries, pensions and savings, ruin many MSMEs, affect low-income families and hit the middle class.”

Though passed by El Salvador’s government and signed into law by Bukele in June, the law recognizing Bitcoin as legal currency in the country will not go into effect until Sept. 7. The Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block’s protest was aimed at government officials to demand the law be repealed. In addition, the World Bank has also refused to help El Salvador transition to a Bitcoin-friendly framework, given its “environmental and transparency shortcomings.”

Related: What is really behind El Salvador’s ‘Bitcoin Law’? Experts answer

During a scheduled visit by the U.S. State Department earlier this month, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland suggested El Salvador ensure Bitcoin is well regulated and transparent, but did not explicitly say anything against the country’s move to a more digital economy. Some proponents of the law including Bukele have suggested Bitcoin could help facilitate remittance payments from El Salvador citizens living abroad and lessen the country’s reliance on the U.S. dollar.