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US grapples with crypto law

  • August 8, 2022
  • 3 min read
US grapples with crypto law

Human rights activists from nearly two dozen countries have written an open letter to the US congress in support of a “responsible crypto policy,” praising Bitcoin and ‘stablecoins’ as being essential tools, which aid democracy and freedom, for tens of millions of people.

This comes weeks after an anti-crypto open letter was sent to congress, claiming to be from the scientific community. Its lead signatures, however, included well known critics of cryptocurrency, as well as authors from high income countries.

The 21 activists that hit back include those from countries that have either seen conflict, or have otherwise unstable economies; Ukraine, Russia, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, Cuba and even North Korea.

“We write to urge an open-minded, empathetic approach toward monetary tools that are increasingly playing a role in the lives of people facing political repression and economic hardship,” the letter states. They add that they are humanitarians and advocates of democracy who have used Bitcoin to help at-risk people “when other options have failed.” They added that they wish to defend an open monetary system.

The group says that they have relied on Bitcoin and ‘stablecoins’ in the “struggle for freedom and democracy,” adding that “tens of millions of others” living either under authoritarian regimes, or in volatile economies, use it for the same reason.

“Bitcoin and stablecoins offer ungated access to the global economy for people in countries like Nigeria, Turkey, or Argentina,” they wrote, “where local currencies are collapsing, broken, or cut off from the outside world.”

They cited examples including Cuba, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Nigeria, who have all seen high crypto adoption, due to high inflation, or lack of proper financial infrastructure. Cryptocurrencies, they say, “helped keep the fight against authoritarianism afloat.” They pointed to how crypto played a part for Ukrainians, after their economy collapsed, following the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, New York’s governor Kathy Hochul is looking “very closely” at the proposed and controversial Proof-of-Work (PoW) crypto mining ban bill over the coming months. The bill would prevent crypto mining operations backed by fossil fuels, from setting up shop, or renewing their existing licenses, in the state. It would mean that only operations backed 100% by renewable energy would be able to operate.

The state senate passed the bill on the 3rd of June, much to the disappointment of the crypto community. This leaves its fate in the hands of the governor who can either approve or veto the law. The governor has yet to commit either way, with reporters noting that she hasn’t had time to fully review it. Hochul does, however, support the idea of reducing the environmental impact of crypto mining but not at the expense of jobs. “We have to balance the protection of the environment,” she said, “but also protect the opportunity for jobs that go to areas that don’t see a lot of activity, and make sure that the energy consumed by these entities is managed properly.”

 

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