US Treasury tornado cash penalties are ‘unprecedented’, congressman warns

According to a US congressman, the US Treasury Department’s sanctioning of cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash was an unprecedented move threatening privacy and innovation. And he thinks Congress should start asking questions.

On CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” show Thursday, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was wrong to sanction the service.

Read more: Tornado cash penalties turn into compliance nightmares

“I’m totally opposed to OFAC looking into this,” Emmer said. “My issue is that this software is controlled by code, not by any person or entity. So if you think about it, the Tornado Cash sanction is an unprecedented change in the Office of Foreign Asset Control in its policy of sanction.

“Their priority is to protect the national security of the United States,” he added. “So I think our role – Congress – can be more effective in asking OFAC to know if they think sanction addresses are controlled by people, not code, and what that means for privacy rights and innovation.”

The Tornado Cash ban is sparking an internal debate on Capitol Hill regarding which regulatory agency should be responsible for overseeing cryptocurrencies, according to Rep. Emmer. He said government agencies “are no longer doing the job that was given to them.”

When it comes to digital assets, it should be up to Congress to define “what qualifies or meets the definition of cash, commodities, and/or securities,” and which agency should be responsible for regulating each, a Emmer said.

The coin mixer sanction sent shockwaves through the industry and reignited concerns about privacy and the use of open source tools.

Congress must now “act together,” according to Emmer.

Emmer used the show to once again criticize the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for what it considers to be beyond its authority.

Read more: CFTC Commissioner: Crypto Market Needs Clear Guidance on Its Regulator

He said the SEC was “out of its way”, using its position as a “supervisory authority”. Emmer pointed to information requests and subpoenas the agency has issued to crypto companies, including companies that believe they fall outside the agency’s jurisdiction.

With just 28 legislative days left this year, “crypto legislation is unlikely to move,” Rep. Emmer said, referring to bills outlining which U.S. regulatory agency should oversee the crypto market. -change. However, it’s “very likely” that next year the crypto community can finally get some sort of regulatory clarity, “so we not only hold regulators accountable, but they know what their path is.”

Read more: Tornado Cash, cryptocurrency mixing service, blacklisted by the US Treasury

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