In a first such attempt to counter lobby, the technologists wrote to the US lawmakers terming cryptocurrencies as “risky, flawed, and unproven digital financial instruments.”
As per the report by Financial Times, the 26 computer scientists and academics, including Harvard lecturer Bruce Schneier, former Microsoft engineer Miguel de Icaza and principal engineer at Google Cloud, Kelsey Hightower, criticized cryptocurrency investments and blockchain technology.
They have asked Washington to resist pressure from digital asset industry financiers, lobbyists, and advocates to develop a regulatory safe haven for the asset class.
In the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the critics attempted to discourage regulators from backing the efforts of pro-crypto lobbyists.
Schneier reportedly said,
“The claims that the blockchain advocates make are not true. It’s not secure, it’s not decentralized. Any system where you forget your password and you lose your life savings is not a safe system.”
Confirming their counter-lobbying efforts, one of the signatories, Stephen Diehl, who also happens to be a software developer, said,
“We’re counter-lobbying, that’s what this letter is about. The crypto industry has its people, they say what they want to the politicians.”
Growth in Crypto Lobbying
According to the Public Citizen analysis of federal disclosures, spending on crypto lobbying has quadrupled from 2018 to 2021, from $2.2 million to $9 million. The number of lobbyists representing the interest of the sector also climbed to 320 from 115 during the same period.
The report also noted that the list of lobbyists for the crypto industry has some of the most high-profile names, such as former top officials from the commodities watchdog, CFTC, the federal administrative agency, the SEC as well as the Treasury Department. Former lawmakers, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), and former high-ranking congressional employees, have also lobbied for the industry.
Additionally, the Blockchain Association – a trade association that lobbies US politicians on behalf of the crypto industry – has increased its lobbying efforts from $540,000 to $590,000 in the first quarter of 2022.
Last month, cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase also announced establishing a Think Tank to ramp up lobbying efforts with the country’s policymakers.