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Financial justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill

United State capitol in Washington, D.C. © iStock - Muni Yogeshwaran
Suzanne Potter

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(California News Service) Consumer advocates are coming out against a bill to regulate the cryptocurrency market, saying it is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act would give regulatory power to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission instead of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Mark Hays, senior policy analyst for the nonprofits Demand Progress and Americans for Financial Reform, said it would be a mistake.

"You're basically creating a more permissive regulatory regime that allows crypto businesses to do basically what they do with a patina of protection," Hays pointed out. "But it actually doesn't provide the same kind of protections you get if you simply dealt with them the way we do now."

Supporters of the bill said it creates robust consumer protections and provides regulatory certainty for the growing industry to flourish. The bill passed the U.S. House last month with majority Republican votes but also some support from progressive Democrats, including Representative Robert Garcia, D-Calif., Representative Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif., Representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Representative Mike Levin, D-Calif., Representative Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Representative Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.

Kevin Stein, chief of legal and strategy for the nonprofit RISE Economy, said lawmakers should put the needs of vulnerable consumers first.

"There are all these horror stories and consumer violations, so we need regulation," Stein argued. "The crypto industry put a lot of money and a lot of lobbying power into trying to get the rules that they want and that is always a recipe for disaster."

The U.S. Senate will now consider whether to take up the bill.