The U.S. government has created a task force to handle various cases of consumer fraud, including digital currency fraud, cyber-fraud, and money laundering. Enforcement will involve cooperation between an extensive number of government departments and agencies:
The President’s order directs the Task Force to invite participation from our law enforcement partners at many departments and agencies…we can identify and stop fraud on a wider scale than any one agency acting alone
The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein earlier today. Rosenstein hinted at the plan in February, referring to it at the time as a “comprehensive strategy for cryptocurrency.” Rosenstein has also commented on other crypto-related law enforcement that is already taking place: in June, he praised the seizure of more than $20 million worth of Bitcoin from Dark Web vendors.
The creation of the task force is relevant to changes involving the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bloomberg describes the Bureau as being “hailed as a regulatory crown jewel of consumer protection by Democrats while maligned by Republicans as a bastion of government overreach.” Due to an ongoing overhaul, the CFPB faces fewer enforcement powers and a strategy that demands it protects all parties — not just consumers. Nevertheless, the Bureau director endorsed the new consumer-focused task force:
Interagency cooperation is incredibly important…This task force is an example of the growing cooperation of the Bureau’s work with other federal and state authorities to combat a multitude of bad actors out there today.
Other divisions of the government have taken a stance on cryptocurrency in the recent past. The SEC has begun to regulate cryptocurrencies as securities. Internally, the U.S. House Ethics Committee compelled House members to disclose their crypto holdings. Meanwhile, a Supreme Court justice has speculated on the future of cryptocurrency.
But for now, this new task force focuses on crypto activity that affects the public. Cryptocurrency-related cybercrime is indeed a vital issue. But critics argue that regulation will also remove the anonymity of cryptocurrency, make crypto difficult to spend and use in general, and hinder its adoption and growth.
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