The Bitcoin Foundation appointed Jim Harper, a former lobbyist for eBay Inc.'s PayPal service, to be global policy counsel as the group seeks to persuade governments to let people use the virtual currency.

Harper, the director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, is a former congressional staff member and adviser to the Department of Homeland Security on privacy and data security. The Seattle-based Bitcoin group, which advocates for the currency's users and helps coordinate its development, announced his appointment in an e-mailed statement.

"The consensus policy that the foundation has produced — maximizing the benefits of Bitcoin while managing the risks — is something we'll work to see governments around the world adopt," Harper said in the statement.

The organization also hired Amy Weiss as a media consultant. She previously worked in media relations at the White House under President Bill Clinton and as communications director at the Democratic National Committee. She will remain chief executive officer of Washington-based Weiss Public Affairs.

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