FinCEN’s Extended Public Comment Period Ends Today, Over 65,500 Submitted

  • FinCEN pushes back the public comment period for its crypto surveillance laws to today.
  • Privacy-focused groups raise stern criticism on the proposed rules on crypto.
  • They claim the rule plays differently for crypto transactions as compared to banks.

The U.S Treasury Department on Financial Crimes, FinCEN, has extended the public comment period to January 7th after wrongly indicating the period ended on January 4th. Following the change, the public now has a few more hours to submit their opinions, comments, and amendments to the Proposed Rule, which will force cryptocurrency firms to surveil their customers as well as keep records on every cryptocurrency transaction above $3,000 from a private wallet.

According to FinCEN’s press release, concerned parties and the public had 15 days to read through the 72-page document and send their comments back to the authority. The post later clarified the submission period would end on January 4th, implying the regulator released the proposed law on December 20. However, the regulator has since pushed back the date to January 7th according to the website receiving the comments,

The 15-day public comment period has been heavily criticized across crypto communities from both top firms in the space such as Coinbase and Gemini and the regular crypto users. Dayton Young, product director at digital privacy rights group, Fight For Future said,

“FinCEN has pushed back the comment deadline for its latest cryptocurrency surveillance proposal […] because government officials can’t count to 15.”

Privacy groups fight against the proposed rule

In addition to vehemently speaking against the short comment period, representatives from various privacy rights groups including Fight for Future, Blockchain Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Coin Center held a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session to rally the public to use the extra time to criticize the proposed rule.

Blockchain Association’s Kristin Smith stated the hastened law was probably being pushed by the outgoing administration to completion before they leave the office. According to Smith, the Blockchain Association is working on stopping the rule from coming into law “until the Biden Administration.” Smith also talked about the possibility of going to court to stop the implementation if it passes.

“But if it does, the Blockchain Association plans to file a preliminary injunction [sic], or a temporary restraining order to prevent it from going into effect then will challenge on process grounds.”

Kristin Smith Blockchain Association

The representatives also criticized the rule as targeting the crypto industry and exchanges differently from current rules applied to fiat and banking transactions. Coin Center Research Director, Peter Van Valkenburgh said, the rule, “does not object traditional financial institutions to the same strictness as shown to crypto transactions.”

Jon Thornton, Fight for Future questioned the increasing surveillance on people’s financial transactions stating,

“The fact that financial surveillance is normalized doesn't make it right. Cryptocurrencies should be an evolution away from the abusive practices of the past.”

While FinCEN is still collecting comments from the public till 12 AM ET, crypto companies are calling on the public to reject the proposed rule to save their privacy. In the meantime, it is not clear if the submitted comments between 4 Jan and 7 Jan will be considered by FinCEN when making amendments. No official communication yet from the authority. As of now, over 65,615 comments have been submitted.

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