The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Roth-Gaudette (she/her), Executive Director at Fight for the Future.
“U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mark Warner (D-VA) recently introduced the Crypto-Asset National Security Enhancement (CANSEE) Act in an effort they say will prevent money laundering, stop crypto-facilitated crime and sanctions violations. But this bill falls very short of its mark. Instead of creating a safer digital world and protecting users, it presumes that anyone seeking anonymity online is a criminal, scammer, cheat or terrorist and stomps on users’ right to privacy.
This bill is wildly unconstitutional and would violate the First Amendment. It imposes penalties on anyone who controls a digital asset protocol or “makes available an application designed to facilitate transactions using a digital asset protocol”. The problem here is that this could extend to creators, developers, or builders who are experimenting with this technology or creating privacy-protecting tools for their communities. It not only treats these individual people as financial institutions like banks or exchanges, it also would have a chilling effect on the creation of rights-preserving technologies and violate their first amendment right to code.
There is no doubt that the crypto industry needs regulation to curb bad actors capitalizing on the technology. However, we don’t need lawmakers casting a wide net and hoping for fish— we need coherent legislation based on an understanding of the technology that is thoughtfully aimed at bad actors.
Research clearly shows that the use of cryptocurrency for money laundering and illicit activity is vastly overstated. Exaggerating the connection between DeFi and crime does not lead to sound policy or support the effective allocation of resources. In their joint statement, the Senators referenced the most recent Treasury National Money Laundering Risk Assessment but clearly missed where it says that “the use of virtual assets for money laundering remains far below that of fiat currency and more traditional methods.” Crypto is far from a money launderers’ primary tool for the job and we should not put the rights and safety of everyone at risk for the possibility that bad actors will occasionally use privacy-preserving tools.
By overstating the risks, this bill threatens those who are trying to create alternatives to Big Tech as well as undermines human rights and free expression. This will impact not only the cryptocurrency space but also anyone actively exploring non-traditional financial options. In today’s landscape, that includes abortion patients, individuals seeking gender-affirming healthcare, sex workers, and other vulnerable persons. Many of the other problems with crypto are certainly real, but this bill is a terrible solution and needs to be thrown out.”