The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass three bills that focus on cryptocurrency and its use for illegal activities.
If there’s one thing that grabs the attention of legislators, it’s fearmongering. A politician loves nothing more than to whip up some hysteria over an issue before introducing a piece of legislation that they say will fix the problem. In the case of politics and cryptocurrency, this means hearing a lot of FUD being thrown about. The media, Hollywood, and politicians love to link crypto and crime, although the vast, vast majority of all Bitcoin transactions are for legitimate reasons. This link is being pushed in three bills that are expected to be introduced and eventually passed soon in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cryptocurrency Bills Pushing FUD
All three bills being considered deal with cryptocurrency and illegal activities. One bill focuses on how crypto is supposedly aiding sex and drug trafficking. The bill’s sponsor, Juan C. Vargas (D – California), believes that crypto allows said traffickers to keep their transactions hidden. He says:
The anonymity behind virtual currencies has made them a preferred payment method to carry out harmful and illegal activities. Congress must understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking and propose effective legislative solutions to fight these crimes.
Apparently, the concept of a fully open ledger that cannot be modified escapes the good representative’s grasp.
The second bill tasks the Department of Homeland Security to do a threat assessment on terrorists using cryptocurrencies for their nefarious activities. This information is to be shared with other law enforcement agencies.
The bill’s sponsor, Kathleen Rice (D – New York), says:
I don’t know what the future of cryptocurrency is, but — right now — if it’s here to stay, we need to get ahead of it. It’s allowed terrorist organizations to finance their operations using the darkest corners of the internet.
I have never been briefed on, or learned of, any comprehensive strategy for addressing this issue. I think one of the first steps to coming up with one is learning what you’re dealing with.
More Agencies Created
The third bill being considered creates an interagency task force under the auspices of the secretary of the U.S. Treasury. The group would consist of both federal law enforcement personnel and private citizens with financial backgrounds. The goal would be to research financial crimes (including crypto) and terrorism and come up with laws and regulations to combat them.
The bill is being sponsored by Ted Budd (R – North Carolina) and Stephen F. Lynch (D – Massachusetts). The senior legislative assistant for Rep. Budd, Tyler Haymore, offered the following on the bill:
We think financial technology — not only cryptocurrency, but the underlying blockchain technology — really has potential to benefit everybody in the financial services space. But this is a nascent technology: If we find more widespread use that terrorist organizations and illicit actors are using cryptocurrency as a main tool to carry out attacks, Congress will potentially respond in a way that harms this new technology and industry. We need to give the private sector [and] academia tools to address the problem and get them a seat at the table with regulators.
The Blockchain Association, recently created to work with the government to draft pro-blockchain and crypto legislation, supports all three bills. Kristin Smith, the association’s director of external affairs, says that the fintech industry is behind the legislation. She adds:
While some criminals have attempted to use blockchain technology for illicit purposes, there’s been consistent collaboration between industry and law enforcement agencies and many technologies have been built to find these bad actors. These bills push that collaboration forward, and we’re pleased Congress continues to take a serious look at these issues.
While the three bills do push FUD, it’s understandable why the Blockchain Association is supporting them. For all the fearmongering over how evil guys are cackling with glee over using cryptocurrencies, the reality is that it’s a good thing if the government actually takes a sober and studious look at the ecosystem. Becoming more knowledgeable about the disruptive new technology will actually have a positive impact down the road when it comes to future legislation and regulation.
What do you think about the three crypto-related bills being considered? Let us know in the comments below.
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