Republic of Ireland to Prohibit Political Cryptocurrency Donations

Republic of Ireland to Prohibit Political Cryptocurrency Donations

The government of Ireland is preparing to ban political parties from accepting campaign donations in cryptocurrency. The move aims to block the perceived threat of Russian interference in the European nations elections against the backdrop of a clash between the West and Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Ireland to Limit Foreign Political Support for Its Parties, Including Crypto Donations

The executive power in Dublin is drafting new political integrity rules to limit foreign political donations amid fears that Russia might try to influence Irelands electoral process. The stricter regulations are meant to prevent Irish parties from accepting donations through cryptocurrencies and oblige them to fully reveal their properties.

A report by the Irish daily Independent describes the changes as a significant shake-up of the countrys electoral legislation, which will grant the Electoral Commission powers to issue take-down notices to social media platforms and alerts of online misinformation attempts. Local Government Minister Darragh OBrien, who is leading the reform efforts, has been quoted as stating:

The appalling invasion of the Ukraine and insidious disinformation war highlight the ongoing fundamental threats faced by all democracies.

OBrien also unveiled that his colleagues have already agreed to implement the stringent measures he is proposing in order to protect Ireland’s “democratic system given the escalating threat of cyber warfare targeting free countries.The respective amendments to the political funding laws will be made through the Electoral Reform Bill 2022.

The new Electoral Commission of Ireland, which should be established by the summer, will be tasked to also introduce guidelines for political advertising on the internet, including requirements for parties to clearly state how ads are funded and the audiences they are targeting. Party leaders will have to declare that their political organizations are adhering to the new regulations.

The initiative to update the Irish political funding rules predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In January, Darragh OBrien asked Attorney General Paul Gallagher to establish a taskforce comprising legal experts and political scientists to examine the need for new election integrity laws. He was citingserious concernsover the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe andwell-documented escalation of cyberattacks on democratic states.

Entre-temps, the cyberspace has become another battleground in Russias war with Ukraine with the two sides registering hacking attacks on government websites and databases. Both Kyiv and Moscow have also turned their attention to cryptocurrencies, with the Ukrainian government raising millions of dollars in crypto donations while the Russian Federation looks to employ actifs cryptographiques as a means to evade sanctions.

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