Yesterday, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network(FinCEN), a bureau of the US Department of the Treasury, issued “interpretive guidance to clarify the applicability of the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) to persons creating, obtaining, distributing, exchanging, accepting, or transmitting virtual currencies.”
You can find the full text here. The fear about this guidance is that it could be setting the stage for the government to impose regulation on virtual currencies like bitcoin in a very heavy handed way. In fact, the guidance could be interpreted as meaning that you would need a license in order to convert bitcoins into other currency. If you operated through an exchange, the exchange would be responsible. If you did a peer to peer currency conversion transaction, however, you might need to have a license yourself. This is troubling to those people that gravitated to bitcoin to eliminate government oversight/control over their financial transactions. To see more of the discussion, check out the Hacker News article that tipped me off to this.