Congressman Bill Foster wants the US government to explore ways to reverse cryptocurrency transactions. The representative of the 11th Congressional District of Illinois stated this in an interview, explaining that such law will curb the rate of cryptocurrency facilitated crime, particularly ransomware attacks that have become a growing menace in the space. This, he believes, will make cryptocurrencies more sustainable.
Foster asserted that unlike fiat, criminals request for cryptocurrencies far too often, making it very important for plausible reversals and unmasking of bad actors.
“Unless they come up with a way to solve the ransomware problem, it is going to be very hard to sustain,” he said.
The recent attack on the Texas-based oil pipeline system, Colonial Pipeline, may be the much-needed proof that a solution is within reach. Hackers were able to gain access to and steal sensitive data before attacking equipment managing the pipeline. They demanded 75 bitcoins ($4.4 million at the time) in ransom to restore the system. Although the amount was paid, the FBI retrieved about 63.7 bitcoins as reported by the United States Department of Justice on June 7. The FBI didn’t disclose how it recovered the funds, but it was rumoured that they gained access to the private keys, obtained a court warrant and seized the bitcoin.
Foster further highlighted the need for identity-tracking systems to checkmate fraudulent activities.
"I think that that common ground is third-party anonymity where you can transact crypto assets anonymously under normal circumstances and 99.9% of the time, the blockchain will determine who gets paid what. But in those rare instances where something fraudulent, criminal, or mistaken has happened, then you have to be able to unmask and potentially reverse those transactions."
According to the scientist and co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a huge knowledge gap exists between him and his colleagues in the congress as regards the blockchain space. He revealed that most of the current crop of congress members share a common anti-crypto perspective.
“There’s a significant sentiment, increasing sentiment, in Congress that if you’re participating in an anonymous crypto transaction that you’re a de facto participant in a criminal conspiracy” Foster said.
These sentiments transcend beyond the congress to the inner chambers of the United States Treasury Department. Janet Yellen, the US Secretary of the treasury and an ardent critic of cryptocurrencies once described bitcoin as an “extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions” and a catalyst of illicit transactions. On the flip side, some lawmakers in the country have publicly advocated for bitcoin in recent times. Senator Cynthia Lummis urged people to invest in bitcoin, saying that she still holds 5 bitcoins which she bought in 2013. The Wyoming senator expressed confidence that bitcoin will become a mainstream asset class, a viable option for portfolio diversification and a reliable store of value. Lummis praised El Salvador for becoming the first country to adopt bitcoin as a legal tender, before warning the US congress about the negative impact of its fiat printing and spending spree.