US cryptocurrency legislation (Re: FSFE and the war in Europe)

Paul Boddie paul at
Fri Mar 18 11:41:44 UTC 2022

On Friday, 18 March 2022 10:18:06 CET fsfe at wrote:
> Perhaps a statement about this pending legislation would be relevant and on
> topic for FSFE:
> -facilitating-transactions/

A statement about US legislation targeting cryptocurrency exchanges that 
allegedly facilitate sanctions evasion? I might be upset about any supposed 
threat to Free Software developers who inadvertently find their code being 
used to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions, but then the people running 
that Web site are...

"...the leading non-profit research and advocacy center focused on the public 
policy issues facing cryptocurrency and decentralized computing technologies 
like Bitcoin and Ethereum."

Based in Washington DC, no less, meaning that they are full-on lobbyists for 
that industry. And I find it hard to sympathise with that industry, 
personally. Claims that "crypto" would be useless for criminal transactions 
don't exactly line up with the experience of anyone receiving the average 
scam/spam mail trying to extort money out of them.

And the idea that criminals wouldn't use Bitcoin - for instance - because "all 
the money can be traced" deliberately neglect that just because there's a 
wallet doesn't mean everybody knows whose wallet it is. (It reminds me of the 
debate about what kind of identity guarantees OpenID could give, but maybe 
that isn't a perfect analogy.)

Free Software developers definitely need protection from bad law, but the 
"crypto" business does not deserve our sympathy. It promotes wasteful and 
ruinous use of technology (good luck getting a graphics card) and needless 
energy consumption, driving climate change to stimulate asset price bubbles. 
Useful idiots for this industry write outrageously disingenous articles like 

And it also promotes pervasive levels of fraudulent activity that burdens our 
infrastructure and targets the vulnerable. Here is an article just from 
today's news:

The confluence of Facebook and "crypto": two awful tastes that couldn't 
possibly be any worse until they are brought together. Interestingly, this 
legislation was mentioned yesterday on Electoral Vote:

In case you might be wondering, the author there is Andrew Tanenbaum whose 
reputation in computer science is well established. And he isn't wrong about 
how people have been rather too easily convinced that "crypto" offers a 
solution to problems that could otherwise be easily fixed if people genuinely 
cared about things like poverty and opportunity.


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