Govt studying how to handle crypto ads: Nirmala

🔴 Nirmala Sitharaman assured the House that the government is studying the existing regulatory framework for advertisements to look at how to handle them.

On a day Parliament barely functioned, cryptocurrencies generated some interest during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. While several members asked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the upcoming Bill on cryptocurrencies, some also raised questions about the proliferation of advertisements for such digital money and related trading and other platforms.

Sitharaman assured the House that the government is studying the existing regulatory framework for advertisements to look at how to handle them.

Her statements came on a question from BJP’s Sushil Modi, who said there has been a “flurry of misleading ads” on TV, print and social media in the last four months “promising heaven to the investors”. Stating that during the recent T20 World Cup “more than Rs 50 crore were spent by crypto exchange companies”, he asked whether there is a plan to ban such ads, “which have resulted in people losing crores”, until a Bill to regulate cryptocurrencies is brought.

Advertising Standards Council of India, the self-regulatory authority for advertising in the country, has already processed three complaints related to crypto ads.

Responding to a question on the same issue earlier, Sitharaman told Rajya Sabha that through SEBI and RBI, and also by the government, statements have been issued and “awareness-building attempts have been made to say this is a risky area and that people going in there be conscious as to what they are doing”. She also said there is ”no regulatory framework” on this, and “maybe more can be done on that area”.

Sitharaman said the Bill on cryptocurrency is a “reworked” one, which factors in newer dimensions that have surfaced in recent past.

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, is listed for introduction during the session.

“Last time (in monsoon session), there was a Bill proposed but subsequently, because there were other dimensions which we thought were important to bring to the Bill, that Bill has been reworked. In a way the bill which is coming now is a new Bill,” Sitharaman said, responding to a question.

Responding to a question by BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta on whether an outright ban on cryptocurrencies was desirable or should regulation be the way forward, Sitharaman said, “As the session is ongoing and the fact that we have answered saying that there is a new bill being proposed sooner rather than later, any answer, I would give now, will pre-empt the discussion that will follow the bill.”

Meanwhile, ASCI secretary-general Manisha Kapoor told The Indian Express that “ASCI guidelines for crypto advertising are under active discussion with the government and other experts and seek to resolve issues that concern consumer interest”.

Kapoor also said ASCI has been “discussing this framework and draft guidelines with different stakeholders, including the government”.

inputs from sourav roy barman

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