Congress Passes Bill to Study Crypto Use in Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2019

A bill to begin a study into how cryptocurrencies and the general online marketplace can be used in the proliferation of sex and drug trafficking has been passed by the United States House of Representatives. Called “the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.T. 502), the bill was passed on Wednesday, the 28th of January.

Sponsored by the U.S. Representative Juan Vargas for California's 51st congressional district, the bill was first introduced in June of 2018 and would look into the possible enablement of trafficking, online.

Requirements of H.R. 502

The bill mandates the Comptroller General of the U.S. to do a thorough investigation on how the online marketplace and cryptocurrencies could directly or indirectly cause an increase in sex and drug trafficking. H.R. 502 also requires the Comptroller General to recommend controlling, supervisory and legal steps that need to be taken to curb these activities, based on the findings of the investigation. In his plea to the House, Vargas said that

“If we are to craft effective regulatory and legislative solutions to combat these transnational criminal organizations, we need to fully study and analyse how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking, to determine how best to eliminate their use.”

However, according to an official press release from Juan Vargas, there is an acknowledgment that the real cause and also the depth of the problem is definitely not the online marketplace and is still largely a mystery. The press release mentions that “while evidence points to the growth of virtual currencies as a payment method for illicit sex and drug trafficking, the true scope of the problem and potential solutions are still unknown.”

The bill also requires the Comptroller General to put forward the outcome of the investigation, before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services.

H.R. 56 and Other Bills

Apart from the H.R. 502, legislators also agreed by voice vote to pass H.R. 56, another bill which would create funding for all efforts directed towards the prevention and possible elimination of all disreputable uses of cryptocurrencies. The bill also specifies an interagency task force to also run an investigation of new and emerging financial technologies that may be used illegally and illicitly.

There is also another bill recently re-submitted to Congress. This bill seeks to excuse companies who render non-custodial crypto functions, from certain state money transmitting laws.

Also, in October of 2018, a bill called “the Blockchain Promotional Act 2018” was proposed to the House by two Representatives. This bill seeks to setup a working group for research into the potential impact of blockchain and to also create a common, incorporated definition of the technology.

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