Legal status, tax and regulation
Because of bitcoin’s decentralized nature, restrictions or bans on it are impossible to enforce, although its use can be criminalized.The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some countries have explicitly allowed its use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. Regulations and bans that apply to bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.
The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and the media.The FBI prepared an intelligence assessment, the SEC has issued a pointed warning about investment schemes using virtual currencies, and the US Senate held a hearing on virtual currencies in November 2013.
Several news outlets have asserted that the popularity of bitcoins hinges on the ability to use them to purchase illegal goods. In 2014, researchers at the University of Kentucky found “robust evidence that computer programming enthusiasts and illegal activity drive interest in bitcoin, and find limited or no support for political and investment motives.”
Bitcoin has been criticized for the vast amounts of electricity consumed by mining. It has been estimated that annual consumption (as of 2017) was 23 terawatt hours, approximately the same as the country of Ecuador.
In September 2015, the establishment of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ledger (ISSN 2379-5980) was announced. It will cover studies of cryptocurrencies and related technologies, and is published by the University of Pittsburgh. The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.
In the fall of 2014, undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) each received bitcoins worth $100 “to better understand this emerging technology”. The bitcoins were not provided by MIT but rather the MIT Bitcoin Club, a student-run club.
In art, entertainment, and media
Several lighthearted songs celebrating bitcoin have been released.