Petition Prevent the introduction of any "programmable" CBDC in the UK

We are not completely adverse to a UK Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) scheme, however, we don't believe a CBDC should be “programmable”. This would mean that the issuer of the digital currency would have control over how an individual is permitted to use that currency.

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We believe that is not right and leave the system open to abuse.

We ask the Government to assure that it will prevent any implementation of a “programmable” digital currency.

We believe that using a "programmable" digital currency could take us down a dark road, eroding the freedoms we hold so precious. In order to retain the legal rights & freedoms associated with being a British Citizen, the introduction of any UK Central Bank Digital Currency should not contravene Article 8 & Article 14 of the Human Rights Act.

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 December 2022

The government has no plans to program any future UK central bank digital currency (CBDC) or restrict how money is spent.

The UK is actively exploring the potential role of CBDCs to understand the wide-ranging opportunities and challenges they could bring. The government and the Bank of England have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK.

The government has no plans to program CBDC or restrict how money is spent.

In this context, programmability is when a transaction automatically occurs or only happens when a specified set of conditions are met. Examples of this today include machine-initiated payments that are not reliant on human interaction such as standing orders and programmable wallets that allow users to set rules to manage their money.

However, as payments systems develop and new forms of digital currencies emerge, programmability functionalities could have wider applications. Examples here include an automated payment made by a vehicle or an insurance claim governed by a smart contract which allows for instant claims payments to be made.

Neither the Bank of England nor the government would be able to program CBDC or restrict how money is spent. If there was end-user demand for programmability features, then any programmability features would be designed by the private sector wallets, and users would have the option to use them if they so wished.

Maintaining user safety and privacy, as well as choice, is a priority as the government and the Bank of England appraise the case for a CBDC in the UK. We recognise concerns about how to ensure the privacy of transactions and users within a CBDC ecosystem, and it is clear that any UK CBDC must have robust systems in place to ensure that any sensitive information is handled appropriately and securely and be underpinned by relevant legal frameworks. Therefore, any potential private sector programmability features will be carefully balanced against the important data and privacy considerations of a CBDC.

HM Treasury

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