The U.S. Department of Justice has officially announced the publication of a new Cryptocurrency Framework.
The Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework is an 83-page PDF prepared by the Cyber-Digital Task Force of the Office of Attorney General William P. Barr, and can be downloaded at www.justice.gov/cryptoreport.
However, the document does not contain any new binding legal requirements, but merely provides a framework for existing laws and regulations in the cryptocurrency sector.
In short, it is proposed as a kind of guide, a guidance document with the sole purpose of providing clarity to the public about existing requirements under the law or Department of Justice policies.
The Framework provides a comprehensive overview of the risks and challenges associated with the increasing spread and use of cryptocurrency, and also outlines the Department’s response strategies.
Risks, challenges and tools for cryptocurrency: the US Department of Justice report
The first part provides a detailed overview of the risks, and in particular the financial transactions associated with the commission of crimes, money laundering and evasion, as well as theft and fraud.
The second part explores the various legal and regulatory instruments available to the government to address the threats posed by the illicit use of cryptocurrency.
The last part includes a discussion of the ongoing challenges facing the government in this area, particularly with respect to business models and activities that can facilitate criminals.
The Cyber-Digital Task Force was established in February 2018, and had already published a similar report in July 2018.
Attorney General Barr said:
“Cryptocurrency is a technology that could fundamentally transform how human beings interact, and how we organize society. Ensuring that use of this technology is safe, and does not imperil our public safety or our national security, is vitally important to America and its allies. I am grateful to the Cyber-Digital Task Force for producing this detailed report, which provides a cohesive, first-of-its kind framework for those seeking to understand federal enforcement priorities in this growing space.”
Task Force member John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division, added:
“The United States has been enormously successful blocking terrorists, rogue regimes, and their supporters from funding their activity using traditional currencies. As the Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework explains, we will adapt our strategy and tools to 21st century financing, including to combat the use of cryptocurrencies to evade enforcement and harm our national security.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray commented:
“At the FBI, we see first-hand the dangers posed when criminals bend the important technological promise of cryptocurrency to illicit ends. As this Enforcement Framework describes, we see criminals using cryptocurrency to try to prevent us from ‘following the money’ across a wide range of investigations, as well as to trade in illicit goods like criminal tools on the dark web. For example, the cyber criminals behind ransomware attacks often use cryptocurrency to try to hide their true identities when acquiring malware and infrastructure, and receiving ransom payments. The men and women of the FBI are constantly innovating to keep pace with the evolution of criminals’ use of cryptocurrency.”