Digital rights group fights back against FinCEN’s sneak-attack on cryptocurrencies and privacy rights

Posted December 23, 2020, 4:57 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 23, 2020

Fight for the Future has launched a petition to stop FinCEN’s attempt to rush through a dangerous new financial surveillance before time runs out on January 4th, 2021 

CONTACT: press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

FinCEN — a bureau within the US Department of the Treasury — has proposed a new rule that will allow the government to track a variety of cryptocurrency transactions without the need for a warrant. Notably, FinCEN has voided the typical comment period for rule changes in order to rush this invasive surveillance rule through the approval process before the new administration takes office. In response, digital rights group Fight for the Future has created an online tool that makes it easy for cryptocurrency holders and privacy advocates to submit an official comment to FinCEN in opposition to this bad rule: StopFinancial Surveillance.org

"The US Treasury can’t even keep their own computer systems safe from hackers, and now they want to collect and store sensitive financial information about millions of people all over America in those same vulnerable systems. No thanks," said Dayton Young, Product Director at Fight for the Future, (pronouns he/him), referring to recent news that the US Treasury was hacked by agents of a foreign government. "Cryptocurrencies offer us the possibility of transferring money without the predatory fees of traditional banks, or heavy-handed regulations from bloated government agencies. This new rule will create financial surveillance on an unprecedented scale with little to no impact on the crimes it’s supposed to prevent."

If the new rule is passed, cryptocurrency exchanges will be required to keep records on all cryptocurrency transactions to and from self-hosted wallets over $3,000, and automatically report all transactions involving self-hosted wallets over $10,000 to FinCEN. The government says that this rule will allow them to track money used in criminal enterprises, but this rule will only impact people purchasing cryptocurrency directly from exchanges and will not stop anyone from privately exchanging cryptocurrencies on a peer-to-peer basis. Even worse, similar laws used to identify fraud and money laundering at traditional financial institutions have backfired, allowing these crimes to flourish at some of the world’s biggest, most heavily-regulated banks.

FinCEN knows that if word gets out about this dangerous new rule, popular support will be firmly against the change. That’s why they’ve released their proposal during the holiday season and scrapped the normal comment period for public review. But Fight for the Future hopes that their new website will draw attention to this urgent issue before the shortened comment period expires on January 4th, 2020. To sign the petition or to learn more, please visit Fight for the Future’s campaign site: StopFinancial Surveillance.org