BREAKING: Congress just slipped a dangerous provision into a must-pass bill that would allow Treasury to secretly ban anyone from using financial services

Venmo, banks, Western Union, cryptocurrencies, and any “transmittal of funds” could soon be subject to secret and permanent bans Treasury can enforce with a phone call.

UPDATE: We are so grateful Rep Himes has listened to reason and removed the worst parts of this provision: those that would give Treasury secret power and people no due process in being permanently financially censored. Activism works.

An existential threat to our basic rights has been slipped into a must-pass bill in Congress. Representative Himes’ financial censorship provision in the America COMPETES Act has already been dropped from legislation once, and we have heard that there is a chance it might be pulled again. To ensure that happens, we need to contact our Representatives now.

Whether you are an activist who accepts donations from your neighbors, an immigrant sending remittances back home, someone who sends donations to help with humanitarian disasters, or a developer working with blockchain technologies, this provision appears to allow Treasury to end your ability to access financial services forever.

The COMPETES financial censorship provision hands Treasury total power to secretly decide that they want to block customers at banks or other financial institutions from making transactions, and more.

Currently, Treasury has all these same powers, but they have to be transparent about it and offer those targeted at least some warning and due process. Also, no ban is permanent and they can’t do it in secret.

Further, this bill would set Treasury up to immediately and permanently ban all financial institutions from touching cryptocurrencies, an entire class of technology—or any future technology for transmittal of funds that it deems concerning. It appears to also allow Treasury to ban financial institutions from serving a whole class of people, like sex workers.

Regardless of what you think about cryptocurrencies, this legislation will have a broad and deeply chilling effect on activists, immigrant communities, and other marginalized people. Congress must stop shoehorning important provisions into fast tracked legislation—we need careful and considered policies to protect people and address real problems like money laundering without undermining our freedoms and rights.

A version of this provision was dropped from legislation last year because it raised so many concerns. But now it’s back again, essentially unchanged. Contact your representative now to demand that they reject and bury this provision before passing the COMPETES Act.