Senator Lummis Slams DOJ's Stance on Private Crypto Wallets

U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis criticizes the DOJ's stance on non-custodial software, stating it threatens property rights and contradicts Treasury guidelines.

May 2, 2024 - 14:59
May 2, 2024 - 13:45
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Senator Lummis Slams DOJ's Stance on Private Crypto Wallets
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U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) expressed deep concern about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) approach to non-custodial software. She argued that the DOJ’s stance poses a threat to property rights and contradicts existing Treasury guidelines. Lummis criticized the DOJ's "hyper-aggressive argumentthat non-custodial software could qualify as a money transmission service. She stated that the DOJ’s stance goes against current Treasury guidance and undermines the rule of law.

"Arguments against self-custody software threaten the fundamental property rights that are core to being an American," Lummis said, adding that she will fight "for your rights to hold your own keys and run your own node,said Lummis. She vowed to defend the right to manage one's own crypto keys and nodes, accusing the Biden Administration of "criminalizing core tenants of the Bitcoin network and decentralized finance."

Her comments followed two recent legal actions where DOJ prosecutors sought criminal charges against software developers for unlicensed money transmission: an indictment against Bitcoin mixer Samourai Wallet and a response to a motion to dismiss in the case of Tornado Cash developer Roman Storm.

The DOJ’s interpretation of money transmission laws, which includes wallet developers without direct control over user assets, has faced strong opposition from the crypto community. Crypto advocacy group Coin Center called the DOJ's approach a "massive overreachand said it contradicts existing FinCEN guidance.

In a blog post, Coin Center's research director, Peter Van Valkenburgh, stated that the DOJ's stance suggests every cryptocurrency wallet and smart contract engages in money transmission, and every developer is involved in unlicensed money transmission. Coin Center filed an amicus brief supporting Roman Storm, arguing that Tornado Cash’s code publication is protected under the First Amendment.

Conclusion

Senator Cynthia Lummis remains steadfast in her opposition to the DOJ’s stance on non-custodial software, which she views as a significant threat to personal property rights and a deviation from established Treasury guidelines. Her commitment to defending individual crypto freedoms aligns with the concerns raised by crypto advocates, who argue that the DOJ’s approach is overly aggressive and contradictory to existing regulations. Through her efforts, Lummis aims to preserve fundamental rights in the digital financial space.