Tech experts call for Congress to bring ‘skeptical approach’ to crypto

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More than two dozen high-profile tech experts have signed onto a letter asking congressional leaders to apply a skeptical eye to the booming crypto industry.

The letter, published Wednesday and addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, among others, comes from 26 industry experts including Harvard’s Bruce Schneier and Google Cloud principal engineer Kelsey Hightower.

The tech leaders question claims by crypto evangelists that “crypto-assets are an innovative technology that is unreservedly good” and instead urge lawmakers to “take a critical, skeptical approach” toward crypto.

“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 letter reads.

It argues that claims that the crypto-asset industry is “in any way suited to solving the financial problems facing ordinary Americans” are simply “peddled by those with a financial stake” in its success.

Despite its prolonged slide, the cryptocurrency sector still has a market cap of $1.27 trillion, according to CoinGecko, with the leading digital token bitcoin taking up a $562 billion chunk alone.

The signatories write that “not all innovation is unqualifiedly good” and say that “the history of technology is full of dead ends, false starts, and wrong turns.”

It continues on to argue that blockchain technology is “poorly suited for just about every purpose currently touted as a present or potential source of public benefit” and call it “a solution in search of a problem.”

They urge lawmakers to make sure that people “are not left vulnerable to predatory finance, fraud, and systemic economic risks in the name of technological potential which does not exist,” saying that crypto assets are often used in “unsound and highly volatile speculative investment schemes” that trick retail investors “who may be unable to understand their nature and risk.”

The letter arrives as Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are set to introduce their Crypto Oversight Bill, which Lummis told CNBC last week “creates a regulatory for digital assets which … hits the sweet spot between regulation that is clear and understood and does not stifle innovation.”

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