The US-based altcoin exchange Bittrex recently announced a change to its terms and conditions that will restrict its use by certain people, specifically those who have had any kind of economic sanction levied against them by the federal (US) government.
It is not the first time that Bittrex has placed restrictions on its user base. In the past the exchange had enforced a lower withdrawal limit on those users who had failed to verify their accounts, a decision for which they came under a lot of criticism, even though that change was announced well in advance of its implementation.
This decision to deny access to the exchange to anybody facing economic sanctions from the United States government has provoked a similar outcry from concerned groups.
In its Terms and Conditions page, updated on 28 February 2018, a new section has been introduced under the heading “Restricted Locations". This new part of the exchange's ToC specified that individuals based in certain areas would no longer be permitted to use the platform.
The countries in question - Crimea, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Syria – are unlikely to come as a surprise to anybody with even the most modest understanding of international politics and how they relate to America. However, the new terms also allow Bittrex to apply their own discretion and deny the use of their service to other would-be customers in areas that are not on their blacklist.
Bittrex stated that, as the federal government occasionally amends its lists of sanctioned individuals, countries, and regions, so too will the exchange’s own list of barred customers need to be amended.
The concern amongst the cryptocurrency community is that such restrictions fly in the face of the very principals upon which altcoins were founded – that of a decentralised financial model, free of interference from government. With Bittrex feeling bound by the federal laws imposed by US legislators, and exchanges in the Far East coming under scrutiny from their respective governments, it has renewed demands for a fully decentralised exchange which will not be subject to such legal restrictions.
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