'Red Alert' Crypto Campaign Gathers Support to Amend US Infrastructure Bill
Numerous US crypto advocates have launched an ambitious campaign aimed at driving up support for an amendment to a controversial infrastructure bill – claiming that the legislation would usher in “sweeping surveillance of crypto holders.”
An updated version of the bill – which would seek to fund and enshrine billions of dollars worth of public spending commitments into law – has also been slated as “unacceptable” for the crypto sector. Fears remain high that the legislation would seek to squeeze up to USD 28bn from the crypto sector in the United States.
The advocates are urging Twitter followers to back the amendment, launched by a bipartisan group of senators (the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, as well as the Republican Senators Pat Toomey and the Bitcoin (BTC)-keen Cynthia Lummis). The measure proposes an alternative crypto plan that would seek to force crypto exchanges and other players to relay data to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Coin Center, a crypto lobbying group, claimed that the amendment “explicitly excludes validators, hardware and software wallet makers, and protocol [developers] from the expanded definition of a broker.”
The three senators’ support is not enough, however, to ensure the amendment passes. The measure needs at least 60 votes if it is to be added to the bill.
Crypto enthusiasts and industry players have rallied behind a tool posted on the Fight for the Future website. Warning that the bill could “kill crypto” if passed, the site’s authors (who also called the issue a “red alert” on Twitter) invited American citizens to enter their phone numbers. The tool then uses this data to identify the phone number of the user’s senator’s offices. They wrote:
“We’ll provide you with a suggestion of what to say and connect you directly with your lawmaker’s office.”
The blockchain and crypto consultant Katherine Wu called the tool a “super easy process.”
However, the General Counsel at Compound Labs Jake Chervinsky wrote that “some people are reporting issues getting through to their Senators” using the link, suggesting other forms of contact if this proved to be the case.”
He called on “everyone” to contact their senators “now.”
The Coinbase chief Brian Armstrong warned that the bill could have dire consequences if approved. He wrote that the bill would mean that “almost anyone in the crypto ecosystem (miners, validators, smart contracts, open-source developers, etc)” could be “treated as a ‘broker,’” which would put “massive reporting obligations” on them. The measure, he added would also “force exchanges like Coinbase and others to surveil its customers’ transactions in a way that is more intrusive than the rest of traditional finance.”
His thoughts were echoed by Coinbase rival Kraken’s CEO Jesse Powell, who wrote that the amendment “isn’t going to pump itself.”
He claimed the process of using the tool to call his senators “took [him] less than five minutes,” but noted:
“We clearly aren't hitting them hard enough. Get ‘er done!”
The a16z general partner Kathryn Haun, meanwhile, wrote that her firm had written to Chuck Schumer, the New York Senator and Senate Majority Leader, as well as the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in support of the amendment.
"A proper regulatory strategy needs to reflect one important fact: crypto is not a monolith. The crypto universe extends far beyond its financial origins, encompassing artwork, community development, and new ways of forming organization," a16z wrote, adding that "We can't afford to sacrifice tomorrow's economic opportunity because of a flawed bill that has a simple fix."
Collins Belton, the managing partner of the legal firm Brookwood, claimed that he was “hoping everyone who has had a chance to raise their voices” would back the campaign.
“I know for a lot of us that traditional lobbying isn’t something of comfort, but it helps to come out in force and ensure that our representatives fight for our interests too.”