What has happened?

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a Blockchain Working Group.

What does this mean?

The FTC, a US consumer protection agency, has announced in a blog post the creation of the group, which has three main goals.

The group aims to "build on the expertise of FTC staff in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology through resource sharing and by hosting outside experts".

It will also try to facilitate internal communication and external co-ordination on enforcement actions and other related projects.

Finally, the group will serve "as an internal forum for brainstorming potential impacts on the FTC’s dual missions [i.e., to protect consumers and promote competition] and how to address those impacts".

"We believe this working group is an important step to ensure the FTC can continue its missions to protect consumers and promote competition in light of cryptocurrency and blockchain developments," said Neil Chilson, the FTC's Acting Chief Technologist, in the blog post.

The creation of the group coincided with the FTC announcing a lawsuit against four individuals who allegedly promoted fraudulent "chain referral schemes" that used bitcoin.

Although the agency has already brought cases involving chain referral schemes, this was first case of its kind as it involved a cryptocurrency.

Chilson noted that "it is no surprise that fraudsters might use cryptocurrencies in their scams".

He added: "As the primary federal general consumer protection agency, the FTC has seen this pattern before. Fraudsters often attempt to capitalize on the excitement and confusion around hot new technologies, and they are quick to dress up old schemes in the clothes of the latest and greatest innovations".

Earlier this year, the FTC published another blog post that warned customers about the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrencies.

The FTC's main mission is to promote consumer protection and eliminate and prevent anticompetitive business practices.

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