Controversial US Sanctions Bill Calls for Cryptocurrency Research

A foreign sanctions bill signed into law by President Donald Trump included a little-noticed provision on cryptocurrencies.

AccessTimeIconAug 7, 2017 at 2:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:48 a.m. UTC
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A foreign sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump included a little-noticed provision on cryptocurrencies.

The U.S. Congress cleared the bill late last month imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. It was a politically controversial development, given ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the stated opposition of the Trump administration to the legislation.

Trump ultimately signed the bill into law last week, though he sharply criticized the measure in an accompanying signing statement.

Notably for the blockchain industry, however, is that the bill includes a mandate for the development of a national security strategy aimed at "combating the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance."

One provision, which focuses on research into "illicit finance trends," mentions cryptocurrencies as an area of study.

The text calls for:

"[A] discussion of and data regarding trends in illicit finance, including evolving forms of value transfer such as so-called cryptocurrencies, other methods that are computer, telecommunications, or internet-based, cybercrime, or any other threats that the Secretary may choose to identify."

The initial draft strategy is due to Congress within the next year, according to the bill's text, and is set to include input from US financial regulators, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.

In some ways, the new bill echoes another submitted in May as part of a wider Department of Homeland Security legislative package.

That measure, as CoinDesk reported at the time, calls for research into the potential use of cryptocurrencies by terrorists. Like the DHS bill, the new sanctions law doesn't constitute a shift in policy, but rather indicates that Congress is taking steps to explore the issue more closely.

Donald Trump image via Shutterstock

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