Category Archives: US blockchain news

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 9th to 15th February 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

JP Morgan Launches New Cryptocurrency: JP Morgan, one of the biggest investment banks in the country has launched a new crypto token called JPM Coin. The new coin is more like a stablecoin and will be backed by USD.

The move was surprising because JP Morgan has long called cryptocurrencies unreliable and a scam but the latest move suggests that the mindset is currently changing and the bank is eagerly looking on to join the stablecoin bandwagon.

The coin drew a mixed response from the crypto community with Ripple’s boss Brad Garlinghouse calling it out for its lack of innovation. However, confusion surrounds much of the new JPM coin’s details.

Virginia Police Fund Invests Millions in Bitcoin: Virginia’s Police Retirement Fund of Fairfax County has announced that it will invest some of its money in Bitcoin.

The funds will be invested through Morgan Creek which will use it to invest in companies like Coinbase and Bakkt. More than USD 40 million from these pension funds will be eventually invested by Morgan Creek. This is the first time in USA that a police retirement fund is looking to invest in cryptocurrencies.

UC Berkeley Announces Accelerator for New Blockchain Startups: One of the top public universities in the US UC Berkeley has announced a new accelerator program for new blockchain startups trying to gain a footing.

The 12-weeks long program is being launched with a partnership between Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, Haas School for Business and Blockchain and Venture Capitalist fund Berkeley X-lab Fund. The program is open for everyone and new startups can apply to it. The selected startups will be mentored by entrepreneurs, students, alumni and investors from the industry.

IBM Looking to Fight California Drought with Blockchain: IBM is looking to employ blockchain to tackle the issue of drought in some parts of California. The project will initially observe one of the largest and at-risk aquifers in the area using sensors and blockchain to record the data.

IBM is joining hands with the University of Colorado Boulder and non-profit The Freshwater Trust (TFT) for this project and looks to test the initial effort for a potential expanded investment.

Canada

Quadriga Investors Still Unsure About their Funds: Quadriga exchange’s curious case is unfolding further as more details are emerging from the case. This week saw a flurry of new information being released to the public.

Quadriga exchange’s case is unique because its owner Gerald Cotten died with access to a cold storage wallet that had a majority of the exchange’s crypto assets. Now those funds are difficult, nearly impossible to access. At first, this week the government announced that it would do as much as it could to help the victims and retrieve funds, but it has proven to be an extremely difficult task.

Cutton’s widow may reportedly have the keys to the cold storage wallet but nothing is certain for now. A local judge has reportedly given the exchange’s operators 30 days to try and access the wallet.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 2-8 February 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

Leaked Info Show Possible ETF Regularization: SEC commissioner Robert Jackson’s comments, reportedly leaked before the press shows some optimism for a Bitcoin ETF regularization process from the Commission. Jackson’s comments were due to be published on 11 February 2019 but were leaked several days before.

Jackson reportedly said:

“A fund based on Bitcoin will eventually pass muster at the Securities and Exchange Commission despite that agency’s actions to deny all previous efforts.”

This renewed development in the ETF-SEC saga was a positive development for many in the crypto industry.

Winklevoss Twins Ordered to Pay Compensation for Shrem Case: Bitcoin investing pioneers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have been ordered to pay $45,000 in legal fees to Charlie Shrem, the then BitInstant owner. While the sum is quite insignificant to the famous twins, who were compensated around $70 million from Facebook a while ago, this may affect their public image, even if ever so slightly.

The Winklevosses initiated an asset freeze and investigation into Shrem after it was found that he owed them investment money. The courts eventually ruled in favour of Shrem and have ordered the reopening of his account as well as forcing the Winklevosses to pay his legal fees.

Banker Predicts Increased Interest for Cryptocurrencies from Wall Street: JPMorgan’s Global Market Strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou has come out and said that Wall Street will have increased interest in cryptocurrencies in the near future.

But, at the same time, the banker insists that the market must grow before the eventual institutional investors dive into it.

He said:

“The stability that we are seeing right now in the cryptocurrency market is setting the stage for more participation by institutional investors in the future.”

But, the kind of bubble investment patterns institutional investors bring have risks of their own as well.

SEC Posts Ad for Blockchain-related Big Data: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has posted an ad on a government contracts website to acquire big data of some of the biggest public blockchain networks in the world including Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.

The reason given for the SEC is to “monitor risk and improve compliance”. The federal agency seems to have taken a liking to blockchain technology as far as academia is considered but has so far refrained from allowing many ICOs and other blockchain companies to grow in the country as part of a regulatory backlash.

In other news, the SEC is going to use Blockchain-based tools for analyzing user data. While some consider it ironic as far as the SEC is concerned, it is very much a need of the hour.

Canada

Blockchain Association Joins Hands with Chamber of Digital Commerce: The Chamber of Digital Commerce Canada has decided to join hands with the Blockchain Association of Canada according to a press release on its official website.

The new Association will be headed by Tanya Woods, executive director and policy strategist of the then BAC. She said in the press release that a strong blockchain ecosystem is being pursued by the Canadian government. She believes a strong merger of these two organizations will help the government in achieving that dream.

With Canada’s favourable regulations and progressive mindset, it is becoming one of the most innovative countries in the world when it comes to blockchain technology and its application.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 19 to 25 January 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

United States

Chicago Association Forced to Withdraw ETF Application: The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) has withdrawn the application pertaining to its Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). The application’s withdrawal was intimated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Although the exact reasons were not given, the possibility lies in the US government’s shutdown. With a majority of staff unavailable in the SEC, CBOE application would not have been processed in time and that would have affected investors confidence.

At the same time, a Chicago based crypto exchange, Seed CX now offers spot trading options for big players like institutional investors. The exchange said it offers a fully licensed and regulation compliant system, with plans to launch digital asset derivatives that are inline with Commodity Future Trading Commission.

MIT Professor Claims Blockchain will help Borderless Economy: A professor from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has claimed that blockchain technology is perfect for a borderless economy. Professor Silvio Micali said that before blockchain, only two of three crucial requirements (security, scalability, and decentralization) could ever be fulfilled. With all three by blockchain being true, it has the right ingredients.

A team of researchers at the institute have also claimed to develop cryptocurrency that, according to the MIT blog, is 99% less data intensive than Bitcoin. Apart from the bandwidth efficiency, the cryptocurrency dubbed Vault also deploys Proof of Stake model, instead of the energy-hungry Proof of Work that Bitcoin uses.

Douglas County to Initially Invest $50,000 for Blockchain Innovation Campus: The Washington state’s Douglas county seems to defy the crypto market meltdown by sanctioning USD 50,000 towards the development of its blockchain innovation campus. With the recent months seeing Bitcoin prices falling, the county has been able to bring in miners with its relatively cheaper hydroelectric power stations.

NASDAQ CEO Believes Crypto at Crossroads: NASDAQ CEO, Adena Friedman, has said that cryptocurrencies are now at a critical crossroad where they can either fade out or become integrated into the economic fabric of the world. In this regard, she expressed that cryptocurrency should be given “an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy.”

IBM is collaborating with big healthcare service providers for a blockchain ecosystem that would improve how sensitive information such as personal medical records are handled, along with increasing health claim speeds and transactions.

New Hampshire Passes Bill to Allow Taxes to be Paid in Bitcoin: Lawmakers in the state of New Hampshire have proposed a bill that would make it legal to pay taxes and fees with Bitcoin by 2020. The first time the idea was proposed in the state was back in 2015. New Hampshire has once again become one of many U.S. states proposing their own crypto acceptance bills.

Mexico

Havard University to Pilot Blockchain Factory Safety System: Harvard University has teamed up with clothing brand Levi Strauss to develop a blockchain based factory safety management system. The aim is to remove the dependency on third-party health and safety auditors, and mould the current HSE system into a completely independent self-reporting one. The platform will be deployed for its test phase at one of Levi’s factory in Mexico.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 12th to 18th January 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

United States

Top 6 universities from the US, including MIT, are busy developing what they claim to be the fastest cryptocurrency ever. Called Unit-e, the cryptocurrency is being built from scratch, using a version of blockchain that would accommodate a thousand transactions per second.

Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, tops out at 7 transactions per second, while Ethereum goes at 30 transactions a second. Will the new cryptocurrency being developed eventually dethrone Bitcoin? Only time will tell.

Crypto Bills Tabled in Congress: US Congressman Tom Emmer introduced a bill titled the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act that would exempt cryptocurrency related companies from money transmission laws if they are non-custodial in nature.

Emmer is also a member of the US House Financial Services Committee and co-Chair of Blockchain Caucus. If passed, the bill would help in accelerating the development of blockchain related industry and businesses on US soil.

Ex-Congressman Criticizes Current Approach to Crypto Sector: An ex-congressman, George Nethercutt has also criticized the US government for being too conservative and throttling the development of a technology that can help the country grow.

According to him, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laws are from the 1930s and should have no role to play in regulating cryptocurrencies.

Douglas County Announces Blockchain Innovation Campus: Douglas County in Washington has revealed plans for a blockchain innovation campus.

With a number of crypto mining farms in the county, due to its cheap hydroelectric power, the county already boasts of a number of blockchain startups and mining farms. The development of a dedicated area for blockchain companies to work would cement its place as a local industry leader.

Cryptocurrency Bills Passed by State Legislature: Two bills concerning cryptocurrencies have been passed by the State of Wyoming.

One of the bills caters to utility tokens, declaring them as intangible personal property and requiring no exemption from security regulators since they are not securities now. The second bill is set to provide a sandbox for crypto platforms to test various services while being shielded from specific laws and regulations. 

Nevada to Test Marriage Registration on Blockchain: Love is in the air for Nevada blockchain enthusiasts. Washoe County in Nevada allows its residents to cement their vows on the immutable blockchain.

The county has turned towards the Ethereum blockchain as it offers a simple way to record marriage certificates. Couples now do not have to wait for 10 days for issuance of their marriage certificates. The county also records births on the blockchain, issuing them as quickly as those of marriage.

Canada

Bankers Association Pushing for Blockchain Adoption: The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is pushing banks for a larger and broadscale adoption of blockchain due to the added benefits it carries.

The CBA calls for linkage of federal and provincial ID database on the blockchain. This, according to the association, would allow banks to authenticate clients digitally and replace the current slow, paper-based version which is prone to security lapses.

Marshall Islands

State Cryptocurrency Close to Becoming a Reality: Once the testing ground for nuclear tests by the US, the Marshall Islands governments blockchain team has announced it has made major achievements in developing a central bank backed cryptocurrency, dubbed the Sovereign.

Although the country has faced a lot of criticism from major financial institutions and regulators from around the world, it seems the tiny island nation is going full steam ahead.

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Two New Pro Crypto Bills Passed by the US State of Wyoming

Wyoming

Two new bills aimed at fostering a supportive regulatory environment for blockchain and cryptocurrency innovations have been passed by the US state of Wyoming’s legislature. Caitlin Long, the president of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, informed about the developments in her recent tweets (posted on 10 and 11 January).

Till now, only the reports regarding the House Bill 62 have been unveiled. Wyoming’s state legislature’s page was updated stating that the bill was passed 8-1. Moreover, the bill has been placed on the general file. However, the status of the House Bill 57 has not been updated yet. It is important to note that in a recent tweet, Long claimed that House Bill 57 had been passed with no opposition.

The House Bill 62 has been named as the Wyoming Utility Token Act-property amendments. The bill classified the open blockchain tokens as intangible personal property. It means that these tokens are not required to take exemption from federal securities law.  The bill states that open blockchain tokens cannot be considered as securities. The person who buys these tokens cannot get a cash payment or share in profits from the business, rather he/she will only get services.

The second bill, House Bill 57 is termed as the Financial Technology Sandbox. A sandbox is a flexible testing environment, providing immunity from particular rules and laws that hinder the innovation. It would ultimately give rise to a blockchain friendly business environment and help the new financial service firms.

This is not the first time the Wyoming State has taken positive steps regarding blockchain technology. In early 2018, the House of Representatives and Wyoming Senate passed a bill (House Bill 70) in order to relax regulations for particular tokens offered through the ICOs. Moreover, in March 2018, the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act was approved by the Wyoming state legislature, which exempted virtual currencies from state property taxation.

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Douglas County in Washington Announces Plans for a Blockchain Innovation Campus

Blockchain Innovation

The local government of US’ Douglas County in Washington has revealed exciting plans to build a blockchain innovation campus, as reported by The Seattle Times on 11 January 2019.

The county already boasts of a considerable crypto mining industry and hosts several crypto mining companies courtesy of the cheap hydroelectric power, but the industry did take a sizable hit after the 2018 crypto price drop.

The plans for innovation campus aims to create a more stable and permanent blockchain market presence, as Lisa Parks, executive director of the Port of Douglas County and a crypto enthusiast expressed in her statement: “There is more to the [cryptocurrency] story than the boom and the bust.”

The Department of Commerce at Douglas County has reportedly agreed to release $50,000 in a bid to start the development of the blockchain innovation campus. The stage is set for such a facility as well since the previous cryptocurrency-related activity means the county already has a wide range of high-speed computing capacity along with great cryptocurrency expertise. This combined with the cheap electricity supply ensures that Douglas County can definitely turn into a crypto haven, as hinted by Perks who said, “We have some unique assets that make our region appealing to that industry. […] Let’s figure out a way to capitalize on it.”

Douglas County has had its fair share of ups and downs when it comes to the crypto economy. At its peak, miners flocked the place and the county officials received hundreds of electricity connection requests, which were fulfilled by the county’s own dam. But after 2018 crypto crash, the costs of mining got infeasible, so much so that crypto mining host GigaWatt filed for bankruptcy. But as the crypto landscape seems to return to normalcy, Douglas Country is again looking to cash in with the Blockchain innovation campus and turn the clock back to the good old days.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

Canada

Canada Debating Crypto Campaign Donations with Elections Around the Corner: Fierce political debate has started in Canada among different political parties and advocacy groups regarding crypto donations to political campaigns as the country prepares for general elections later this year.

As of now, none of the parties are accepting crypto donations in the country as there are no rules and regulations regarding the sector.

The United States of America

NASA Develops Blockchain Prototype for Air Traffic Control: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has developed a blockchain prototype for air traffic control which offers superior security and communication capabilities compared to the upcoming Automatic Dependent Surveillance System (ADS-B). According to NASA, the  “framework features certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels for private information that may be used for secure communication between any specific aircraft and any particular authorized member.”

The prototype is based on Hyperledger’s blockchain ecosystem.

Department of Energy Announces Blockchain Grants: The US Department of Energy has announced it will be offering USD 4.8 million in grants to research and development by universities for different projects in the energy sector, including blockchain.

The grants are coming from its Office of Fossil Energy and are meant to bring advancement to fossil fuel power generation systems to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The department has had experiences with blockchain for electrical bill settlements. This time, the department’s interests are to “secure process signal data and other information flows within distributed sensor networks for fossil-based power generation systems.”

Colorado May Free Cryptocurrencies from Some Securities Laws: The State of Colorado just might free cryptocurrencies in its jurisdiction from some securities laws. The Colorado Digital Token Act, if passed, will allow for “limited exemptions from securities registration and securities broker-dealer and salesperson licensing requirements for persons dealing in digital tokens.”

Last year, the state had hit hard on blockchain platforms that did not comply with current securities laws. It carried out nearly two dozen cease and desist orders. With this bill, nearly all of the previous ones will be exempted now.

Dave Rubin Turning to Bitcoin for Funding: Stand up comedian Dave Rubin, famous for his political comments on The Rubin Report show, has announced that he will be turning towards Bitcoin for his crowdfunding campaign.

According to him, the current platform he uses, Patreon, has censorship policies that are not aligned with his beliefs. Citing that the platform’s policies suppress freedom of speech, he will be deleting his account there and using Bitcoin to fund his show. Gab, a controversial social media platform that allows uncensored speech was the first to respond with a donation of 0.0025 bitcoin.

Tech Center Raided in Michigan by FBI: A technology center in Michigan was raided by a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the suspicion that the firm was trading cryptocurrencies illegally.

The firm’s CEO, Chris Boden, said on a YouTube posting that the offices were raided and officials took away computers and other electronic equipment. Although he maintained that his firm was a technology-based non-profit organization, he admitted that the firm did not have the authorizations required for crypto trading. He could face imprisonment and a fine of around USD 100,000.

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US Energy Department Fuels Universities with $4.8 Million Blockchain Funding

US

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has said that it will be backing universities’ research and development projects, including blockchain, up to the tune of USD 4.8 million.

The funding comes from the Office of Fossil Energy under the University Training and Research initiative, which normally funds projects that show the potential to bring advancement to fossil fuel-based energy, while reducing the risks associated and bringing down operating costs.

Under the initiative, the US DoE encourages the development of cutting edge technologies that can make energy more affordable, especially though bringing efficiency into electrical grid systems.

The funding, normally meant for development in computing systems for coal-fired plants for analytical processing, water reprocessing and environmental sciences, is also seeking blockchain this time in order to “secure process signal data and other information flows within distributed sensor networks for fossil-based power generation systems”.

The DoE is not new to the technology, however. Almost a year back in January 2018, it had teamed up with BlockCypher, a blockchain company, to develop a multi blockchain system for energy bill settlements. It had also approved a USD 1 million grant to a Colorado blockchain company, Grid7, for the development of a decentralized energy grid.

The use of blockchain by energy sector from around the world is a recurring theme. South Korean state power company KEPCO is using the technology for the development of microgrids, while the affluent residents of Bangkok are already using blockchain on a trial basis for exchanging renewable energy.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

Bitcoin Not Affected by US Government Shutdown: Analysis of recent price flow of Bitcoin has revealed that the biggest cryptocurrency is slightly affected by the U.S. government partial shutdown. The row over President Trump’s Mexico wall has affected the U.S. stock market, but Bitcoin during that time has actually risen in value.

Institutional digital asset platform Bakkt has announced it has successfully completed its first seed round funding. The total investment is said to be around USD 182 million by 14 investors. The investment of Bakkt brings a lot of positivity towards cryptocurrencies, with the digital assets class finally gaining the attention of mainstream institutional investors.

New York

State Government Forms Task Force for Cryptocurrencies: The State of New York has announced that it is forming a task force to examine and see what kind of regulations are required for cryptocurrencies. Bank’s committee sect of the New York state legislature has already voted for the task force formation in May last year. The main target is to see how cryptocurrencies are affecting the state’s financial markets and what needs to be done to ensure that cryptocurrencies can co-exist with the current system.

The DarkOverlord, a hacker group that claimed it had accessed financial records of insurance companies involved in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attack in New York, has released the first batch of the records. What impact the financial records of insurance claims and payouts will have is anyone’s guess. The hacker group has demanded Bitcoin in ransom or they will continue to publish information.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Published Piece on Blockchain Technology: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has published an article in which it claims that decentralized technology like blockchain will “start to become mundane” in 2019, but also “more useful.” The report cites a number of indicators, such as Wall Street holding its first blockchain summit, the rise of a central bank backed national cryptocurrencies and the performance of the market. The report says that the hype is fading, leaving only the serious actors in the arena.

Ohio

Overstock Wants to Pay Tax in Bitcoin: The online U.S. retailer Overstock has become the first local retailer to be paying a part of its Commercial Activities Tax to the State of Ohio in Bitcoin. The government of Ohio had initially approved the option of firms and organizations to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies. The state has even set up a dedicated portal OhioCrypto.com for the purpose.

Georgia

State Senator Sent to Jail for Falsifying Mining Equipment Fraud: Michail Williams, the State Senator from Georgia has been jailed for falsifying a crypto mining equipment theft. The Senator has reported the theft of the mining equipment from his office, claiming that the hardware was worth around USD 300,000. Investigators, however, failed to find any evidence of the machinery and he was indicted over the false report filing. Williams is a relatively little known in the Senate, although he had backed crypto related bills in the past. He is the first serving Senator to be sent to jail over