Internet Architecture and the Layers Principle: A Conceptual Framework for Regulating Bitcoin
Internet Policy Review, 3(3). DOI: 10.14763/2014.3.289
9 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2014 Last revised: 11 Apr 2015
Date Written: August 19, 2014
Bitcoin is the first decentralised, peer-to-peer network that allows for the proof and transfer of ownership of virtual currencies without the need for a trusted third party. It has created a platform for tremendous financial innovation, but at the same time the role of traditional regulatable financial intermediaries is bypassed. The purpose of this article is to address the important policy question of how we can capture Bitcoin’s potential benefits for the economy while addressing new regulatory challenges. To do so, we first conceptualise the Bitcoin ecosystem through the layered model of internet architecture. Second, we apply the layers principle of internet governance to identify control points and guidelines for regulation that respect the integrity of the layers. Third, we conclude with the need for governments to adopt an adaptive and novel regulatory approach to ensure that society can benefit from Bitcoin’s revolutionary potential. This work forms a baseline for further understanding of the governance of Bitcoin and the various actors within the ecosystem based on the layers principle of internet architecture.
Keywords: Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Finance, Internet architecture, Internet governance
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