Carla L. Reyes, Associate Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law, Hasshi Sudler, Professor of … [+]
HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
Blockchain industry executives are addressing the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, telling the Republican-dominated panel that the sector should be allowed to flourish even as federal agencies and the White House carry out a crackdown against major players in the digital-assets business.
Prepared remarks for a hearing on “ensuring American leadership in blockchain and other distributed-ledger technologies” seek to portray the industry as a positive force, albeit one that needs better regulations from Washington than it has now.
Citing an Electric Capital report that the U.S. stands to gain four million blockchain-related jobs by 2030, president of Ethereum-scaling startup PolygonMATIC -3.9% Labs, Ryan Wyatt, contends that far from being a threat, blockchain is good for America even if new consumer protection laws regarding the technology still prove necessary. Wyatt’s planned testimony states that policy makers and industry participants need to “come together with a willingness to build out regulations that intersects properly with the realities of this technological innovation and protects consumers and the U.S. markets.”
Prepared remarks from Ross Schulman, the senior fellow of decentralization for privacy non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, state that while “blockchains make it easier to provide transparency” and could potentially be applied to “legal proceedings where chain of custody is of the essence,” they have counterintuitively improved Americans’ privacy by leading to breakthroughs in cryptography that let individuals prove information about them is true without revealing other private details.
Schulman added: “The two greatest things that Congress could do to protect Americans from harms related to blockchains would be to pass consumer-driven comprehensive privacy legislation and to adequately fund the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] so that it can hire the technical and legal experts it needs to properly investigate and prosecute those harms.”
Leaders of the House panel said in an announcement about the hearing that if America cedes leadership in blockchain and other “emerging technologies,” that “countries like China will set the rules for more control, continue to suppress freedom, and beat us in the global economy.” Those comments were signed by Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the committee, and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), head of the Innovation, Data, and Commerce subcommittee.
The Republican senators support of blockchain applications comes as regulators nominated by President Joe Biden have clamped down on what they describe as the risks of trading unregulated securities. Over the course of this week alone the Securities and Exchange Commission has sued the largest exchange in the world, Binance and its top American rival, Coinbase, for failing to comply with existing regulatory requirements. In March Biden proposed a 30% tax on electricity used to mine cryptocurrency.
The hearing is taking place today starting at 10 a.m.. Other speakers include Carla L. Reyes, associate professor of law at the Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and Hasshi Sudler, chief executive of science research firm Internet Think Tank and professor at Villanova University College of Engineering.