Crackdown on Trucker Crypto in Canada Fuels GOP Backlash in the U.S.

“There’s a reason these petty bosses around the world hate bitcoin and crypto: they can’t control it,” the senator said. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told POLITICO in a statement. “The modern radical left’s playbook is that if you don’t comply, they are ready to destroy your reputation and your personal finances.”

While support for Freedom Convoy truckers was not universal, Trudeau’s use of emergency authority – later extended by Canada’s House of Commons – reignited debates about how digital transactions Anonymous can simultaneously fund civil disobedience and embolden illegal activity. He revoked the emergency after crowds dispersed from downtown Ottawa.

Meanwhile, the backlash over Trudeau’s response has sparked copycat convoys heading to Washington. Hundreds of people gathered in Southern California, intending to cross the country to protest nearly two years of US lockdowns, mask mandates and other public health measures taken to combat Covid -19.

Former President Donald Trump slammed the Canadian government’s tactics at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, telling a fiery crowd that ‘you’re either with the peaceful truckers or with the fascists from the left. ”

Congressional Republicans are also throwing grenades.

“This is the strategy of the Chinese Communist Party. It is truly concerning that it has arrived in the Western Hemisphere,” the rep said. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who co-chairs the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, said in an interview, referring to Trudeau’s actions. “When your central government can control your movement, your speech, everything about your freedom? It is not freedom. And that’s really what’s at stake.”

Privacy advocates and human rights groups have long viewed digital assets as a way to circumvent payment systems overseen by traditional financial institutions and government agencies. This can be helpful if you direct aid to civil liberties groups operating under authoritarian regimes, said Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation, a group chaired by the pro-democracy Russian lawyer and chess champion Garry Kasparov. But Gladstein noted that the same tools can also embolden money launderers, drug dealers and con artists.

This is no small feat for governments concerned about the growing popularity of decentralized financial platforms, which allow individuals to transact without having to use banks or credit card services. Data firm Chainalysis estimates that cryptocurrency-based crime soared 79% to a record $15.8 billion in 2021 – even as the share of illicit activities in transaction volumes soared of crypto fell.

Criminals are also constantly using conventional payment and financial systems for scams, crypto lobbyists point out. Even so, while US regulation of digital markets is still in its infancy, members of Congress like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And federal agencies have sounded the alarm about the lack of visibility into the ownership of digital wallets that can be used to transfer crypto assets across borders outside of traditional channels.

Trudeau’s emergency orders attempted to cut to the quick in this regard.

After GoFundMe launched a fundraiser for its platform’s Freedom Convoy, supporters quickly flocked to another effort spurred by Bitcoin-focused social media influencers. The new push, hosted on crowdfunding platform Tallycoin, quickly raised around $1 million in Bitcoin to cover food, accommodation and other basic necessities for truckers as the protest dragged into its third week.

Trudeau’s emergency order was intended to block the disbursement of those funds by targeting accounts held on virtual currency exchanges that require names and addresses to meet anti-money laundering and know-your-own rules. customer.

Leaders of major crypto exchanges like Kraken and Coinbase laundered the order, urging their Twitter followers to consider decentralized services where they would have custody of their own crypto if they feared a government would freeze their accounts. Attempts to block transactions on decentralized services, including those that offer digital wallets without collecting personalized information, have been met with derision.

Even after the House of Commons voted to keep the emergency orders and Ottawans whose lives were disrupted by the protests were prosecuted, Trudeau’s actions have become common cause for cryptocurrency. libertarians seeking to avoid government surveillance of their markets.

“The common argument for gun ownership is that we have guns as a last resort to protect ourselves – in this country – against a corrupt government [if it] backfires on the people,” said Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell, whose company is currently seeking a lead account with the Federal Reserve. “Bitcoin can also be one of those defense mechanisms.”

Crypto proponents on Capitol Hill make similar arguments — albeit in less intense terms — noting that Americans’ growing reliance on electronic payments through bank accounts, credit cards, and other online services offers the government more means to monitor or repress transactions deemed illegal or problematic.

Multiple sources said Canada’s attempt to limit digital assets to support the protests underscored the need to maintain some level of privacy protection around crypto transactions. Jerry Brito, executive director of the crypto think tank Coin Center, noted that lawmakers have recently sought to expand the Treasury’s authority to monitor and freeze financial institutions’ accounts in an effort to curb ransomware attacks, money laundering, and money laundering. money and other illegal activities.

Blockchain Association executive director Kristin Smith, whose trade group counts Kraken and other exchanges among its members, said the Ottawa protests could be a “teachable moment” – arguing that it There would have been a similar backlash if former President Donald Trump had used such tactics to go after Black Lives Matter protests, for example.

Three days after Trudeau summoned emergency authorities, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) introduced legislation it would prevent federal agencies from implementing rules that could prevent Americans from using crypto in peer-to-peer transactions.

Davidson said he’s been considering introducing the bill for more than a year — since then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has proposed rules to improve the federal government’s oversight of decentralized finance. But the protests in Canada underscored that privacy “the risks of not protecting that are great,” he said in an interview.

“A lot of the same people who really love the Patriot Act also hate crypto,” he said.


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