ICYMI: Crypto Surveillance…

ICYMI is an ongoing series of blog posts memorializing important Twitter threads from thought leaders at Coinbase and beyond. In this thread from 08/2/2021, Coinbase CLO (and ex-federal magistrate judge) Paul Grewal gives his thoughts on the surveillance provision in the infra bill.

A headshot of Paul Grewal, Coinbase CLO, smiling in a floral button-up

When I was a federal magistrate judge, one of my most important jobs was to act as a check on government overreach. Especially when it came to surveillance. This new crypto surveillance provision brings back a lot of bad memories.

The Fourth Amendment applies to state action, not private action. But provisions like this allow the government to circumvent that pesky limitation, by putting the onus on private actors to collect data on the government’s behalf.

When that happens, and it happens in too much legislation, the liberties of the innocent are sacrificed at the alter of going after cheats, scoundrels, etc. It’s a massive cost, but a diffuse one, and so too often we all accept it in quiet as a cost of doing business.

We can do better than this. Yes, let’s get solid reporting requirements in place that flesh out tax cheats. But let’s not casually compel production of data on millions of innocent Americans when a more tailored solution is just as effective.

*We’ve added links where appropriate. You can see original thread here.

ICYMI: Crypto Surveillance… was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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