“This is a shit show:” US Treasury’s effort to enact cryptocurrency surveillance riddled with inaccuracy and obfuscation

Posted January 6, 2021, 5:30 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6th, 2021



FinCEN has pushed back the comment deadline for its latest cryptocurrency surveillance proposal from January 4th to January 7th because government officials can’t count to 15

In late December, FinCEN — a department of the US Treasury — announced a new proposal threatening the financial privacy of cryptocurrency users everywhere. FinCEN voided the typical 60-day period for public comments on this proposal, opting instead for a 15-day comment period that would end on January 4th, 2021. But FinCEN filed their new proposal on December 23rd, 2020, meaning that the 15 day comment period should end on January 7th, NOT January 4th. 

FinCEN’s press releases and official filings all initially touted the January 4th deadline. While Regulations.gov — the government’s official website for leaving public comments on proposed regulations — has been quietly updated to accept comments through January 7th, 2021, the language in the proposal itself continues to reflect the original, incorrect deadline of January 4th.

"This is a shit show," said Dayton Young, Product Director at Fight for the Future (pronouns he/him). "FinCEN tried to rush this dangerous new proposal through the approval process over the holidays when nobody was paying attention. Well, apparently they weren’t paying attention, either. And as a result, they’ve misled the public in all of their press statements and official filings. If FinCEN can’t be reliable, accountable, or transparent in their processes now, why should we trust them with our sensitive financial and personal information? Simply put, we shouldn’t. While we strongly urge FinCEN to drop this effort to increase financial surveillance, we think these irregularities should — at the very least — delay the rulemaking process and extend the comment deadline to the typical 60 day period."

This is not the first controversy surrounding FinCEN’s rollout of this particular regulation. Previously, privacy advocates reported that Regulations.gov redirected users to a beta version of the website on Tuesdays and Thursdays, breaking existing links and possibly preventing people from voicing their opposition to FinCEN’s new rule. 

To raise awareness of FinCEN’s new cryptocurrency regulation, Fight for the Future is joining with the Blockchain Association, Coin Center, and EFF to host an AMA on reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/ today, January 6th at 3:00pm. 

Anyone who would like to leave a comment with FinCEN can do so at Fight for the Future’s campaign site StopFinancialSurveillance.org.