A Democratic congressman has called for an investigation of the cryptocurrency industry following Robert Mueller’s indictment — while another has called for a ban on cryptocurrency mining and buying altogether.
On July 13th, 12 Russian operatives were accused of interfering with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election — purportedly having aimed to undermine the campaign of the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Mueller’s 29-page indictment outlined the strategies and technologies used to compromise the election process.
Bitcoin, which was the payment of choice by the Russian operatives, has elicited new concern over digital currency from public officials. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo), in a letter to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), urged for a new protocol to help prevent digital currencies from assisting in illegal activities. In his letter, he asked the bureau to “initiate an investigation of the cryptocurrency industry and articulate further guidance to help prevent financial crimes.”
Cleaver, who currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee, acknowledged the “tremendous opportunities” offered by cryptocurrency. Attempting to strike a balance, the U.S. congressman explained:
It is my hope that the government will continue to take steps to better align the public’s interest in financial technologies with the public’s interest in limiting nefarious uses of these technologies.
Congressman Calls to End Bitcoin Buying and Mining
On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee gathered to examine cryptocurrencies’ potential domestic and global uses — this came only hours after a similar meeting held by the State Committee of Agriculture. What ensued was a chorus of anti-bitcoin sentiment fronted by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca). The U.S. congressman announced that:
We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies.
This isn’t the first time Sherman has spoken negatively of the nascent technology — having called cryptocurrencies a “crook” in March.
In his statement from the podium, Sherman went onto say:
Mining alone uses electricity which takes away from other needs and-or adds to the carbon footprint. As a store, as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion.
Not everyone was in complete agreement. Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tx) felt that bitcoin was favorable when compared to privacy-focused digital currencies like Moreno. The more easily traceable Bitcoin served as a benefit for tracking “stupid criminals” reasoned the Republican congressman.
Where’s the Blockchain Caucus?
Congress announced in early 2017 that a blockchain caucus that would educate and advise on matters of blockchain and digital currency. Even with such efforts, certain members of Congress still seem ill-informed. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Mn) who spoke at the meeting admitted that “there’s a lot of things here that don’t make much sense.”
These call to actions and meetings highlight a pivotal time for the U.S. government — as more and more elected law officials come to understand the possibilities of digital currencies and blockchain.
What do you think about the comments and actions made by U.S. Congress members? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikimedia Commons.
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