Cryptocurrency: Emerging digital assets should protect users privacy and other rights

grarpamp grarpamp at
Wed Aug 10 12:42:44 PDT 2022

Emerging digital assets should protect users’ privacy and other rights

August 4, 2022

We write in response to the request for comments on the responsible
development of digital assets, including but not limited to the digital
dollar aka a Central Bank Digital Currency, stablecoins, and
cryptocurrencies. We believe all technology should be used to uplift and
empower marginalized communities, rather than oppress and exploit them. If
digital assets are to be adopted in the future then it must be done right.
To the greatest extent possible and for the sake of our democracy, we must
ensure that emerging technologies protect agency, human rights, and
freedoms for users in a world that has taken so much away.

As the agency studies the adoption and development of digital assets
pursuant to Executive Order 14067 of March 9, 2022, it is essential that
it considers the importance of choice, equity, privacy, and inclusion.
Such values must carry extra weight in today’s post-Roe environment
where people who can get pregnant are being stripped of their agency and
rights. These technologies should work to ensure financial privacy and
inclusion for users rather than contribute to the prevailing surveillance
and control regime. Strong encryption is crucial to ensuring safety in the
digital world, and must be utilized to the greatest extent possible in the
design of any digital assets developed by the US government. Users should
be sure that their right to privacy will be protected and not have to
worry about the possibility of surveillance backdoors in their wallets.

In the United States, nearly one out of every four residents is either
unbanked or underbanked. These overwhelmingly low income, young, mostly
Black and Hispanic people face huge costs in terms of both high fees and
time when they try to perform even the simplest financial transaction,
like cashing a paycheck. Underbanked people are forced to rely on
predatory services that not only charge exorbitant fees, but also have a
history of discriminating against frontline communities. If these trends
continue, the median Black household will have zero wealth by 2053. In
developing digital assets, the government must ensure that it does not
repeat previous mistakes and instead work to bridge the digital and
financial divides that currently exclude marginalized people.

It is crucial that efforts to advance digital assets center the needs of
marginalized people, not surveil them. In our current ecosystem,
marginalized people face systemic and discriminatory surveillance from
both corporations and law enforcement. We should be aiming to enhance
privacy and freedom, departing from the harmful violations of
megacorporations and financial systems. The right of people in the US to
opt-out of financial surveillance from credit card companies and other
predatory entities by using cash has long been enshrined in law. Digital
assets should replicate these advantages to the greatest extent possible
with particular focus on protecting privacy, anonymity,
permissionlessness, and accessibility for all. Such technology must center
the interests of everyday people, not Big Tech or Big Banks. Regulation of
digital assets should not be tailored to benefit abusive corporations or
future authoritarian regimes at the expense of the public interest.

While digital assets can offer innovative solutions to financial
exclusion, censorship, surveillance, access, and ownership, we cannot
overstate the threat they pose as a government-backed tool for
surveillance, manipulation, and exclusion. If these emerging technologies
are adopted and developed by the US government, they must be anchored in
justice, privacy, free expression, and civil liberties.

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