New bill just introduced in the House, and which will very likely pass in some form, is a provision that would be disastrous

New bill just introduced in the House, and which will very likely pass in some form, is a provision that would be disastrous

Jerry Brito:

Included in the America COMPETES Act just introduced in the House, and which will very likely pass in some form, is a provision that would be disastrous not just for bitcoin but for privacy and due process generally.

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The so-called "special measures" provision would essentially give the Treasury Secretary unchecked and unilateral power to ban exchanges and other financial institutions from engaging in cryptocurrency transactions. How would it do this?

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Bank Secrecy Act §5318A allows the Secretary to identify a "primary money laundering concern" and take "special measures" to (1) require financial institutions to report information on the concern, and/or (2) prohibit FIs from maintaining accounts related to the concern.

"Special measures" authority is vast power that the Secretary of the Treasury has today, so in the current statute there are checks on that power.

First, the law requires that Treasury engage in a public rulemaking before instituting a prohibition. Second, the secretary can impose a surveillance special measure through a simple order, but its duration is limited to 120 days and must be accompanied by a public rulemaking.

While not full due process, these limitations at least alert the public and gives the public some opportunity to comment on a special measure's merit or constitutionality.

The new provision would do three things: -Add "certain transmittal of funds" to the list of things that can be banned by the Secretary -Eliminate all public notice and comment requirements -Eliminate the 120-day limitation for measures imposed without regulation

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If adopted into law, this provision would be disaster not just for crypto but for privacy and democratic public process related to *all* types of financial transactions.

It empowers the Secretary to prohibit any (or indeed all) cryptocurrency transactions (or any other kind of transaction) without any process, rulemaking, or limitation on the duration of the prohibition.

This provision was first introduced as an amendment to the national Defense Authorization Act last year

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After alerting folks in the House and Senate of that amendment's unintended consequences, it was removed from the final bill that passed. Unfortunately it's back verbatim without any improvements.

It still strips out *all* administrative process and duration limitations on the Secretary’s power to condition or prohibit transactions at financial institutions associated with primary money laundering concerns.

It's time to call your member of Congress and ask that they take action to make sure that notice and comment and duration limitations are not removed from 31 U.S.C. § 5318A as the America COMPETES Act would do.

submitted by /u/orangebees
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