Blockchain technology is "poorly suited for just about every purpose currently touted as a present or potential source of public benefit" and must be approached with skepticism, a group of 26 high-profile computer scientists, software engineers and technologists wrote in a letter to U.S. lawmakers Wednesday.
The letter offers a tech industry counter to a growing lobbying effort from the cryptocurrency industry in Washington and comes as Sens. Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand are expected to offer a bill proposing new federal regulations for digital assets.
"We urge you to resist pressure from digital asset industry financiers, lobbyists and boosters to create a regulatory safe haven for these risky, flawed and unproven digital financial instruments and to instead take an approach that protects the public interest and ensures technology is deployed in genuine service to the needs of ordinary citizens," the authors wrote.
Harvard lecturer and privacy-focused technologist Bruce Schneier, Google cloud principal engineer Kelsey Hightower and Web3 Is Going Great creator Molly White are among the signatories. The letter is adddressed to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several committee chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate.
Crypto lobbying spending jumped to $9 million last year, from $2.2 million in 2018, according to consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.
“We’re counter-lobbying, that’s what this letter is about,” signatory and software developer Stephen Diehl told the Financial Times, which was first to report the letter.
While advocates for cryptocurrency say it can serve as a tool for financial inclusion and transparency, the letter counters that the industry has only recently latched onto those concepts and better solutions are already available.
A draft version of the Lummis-Gillibrand bill, published by the The Block, designates the CFTC as crypto’s lead regulator — something supported within the industry. While Lummis said the published draft is outdated and the actual version will be released on June 7, she has generally been supportive of the industry.
The letter does not reference to any legislation directly but encourages Congress to "look beyond the hype and bluster of the crypto industry" when setting its legislative priorities.