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What is the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act and Will it Become Law?

Last Updated September 21, 2023 2:40 PM
Omar Elorfaly
Last Updated September 21, 2023 2:40 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Representative Tom Emmer introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act.
  • The Act aims to limit fed oversight on commerce and finances.
  • Under the bill, the federal government can’t issue digital currencies.
  • The bill has passed the House Financial Services Committee.

Majority whip of the United States House of Representatives Tom Emmer introduced  the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act “to halt efforts of unelected bureaucrats in Washington, DC from stripping Americans of their right to financial privacy.”

The Minnesota lawmaker stated that the bill aims to safeguard American financial privacy by preventing the federal government from directly issuing a digital dollar to anyone and by mandating transparency for projects associated with a digital dollar.

Right To Financial Privacy

“Any digital version of the dollar must uphold our American values of privacy, individual sovereignty, and free market competitiveness,” said  Emmer in a press release. “Anything less opens the door to the development of a dangerous surveillance tool.”

If the bill passes in both the House and Senate, then signed into law by President Joe Biden, it would amend the Federal Reserve Act to restrain the Fed’s authority when it comes to CBDCs.

“Unlike decentralized cryptocurrencies, a central bank digital currency is a digital form of sovereign currency that is designed and issued by a government and transacts on a digital ledger that is controlled by that government.”

Hence, the bill addresses one of the biggest fears of the development of a CBDC. Some believe that the government may use such a currency to control and perhaps punish the activity of American citizens if it sees fit.

The lawmaker contends that at its core, a central bank digital currency represents government-controlled programmable money. Unless designed to mimic cash, it could bestow upon the federal government the authority to monitor and restrict transactions made by Americans.

Emmer even cited an example of the approach taken by the Chinese government where citizens may see their finances affected if they commit acts deemed unfavorable by the government.

“In China, the Communist Party is using a central bank digital currency to track the spending habits of its citizens. The data is being used to create a social credit system that rewards or punishes people based on their behavior.”

“We’re not going to let this happen. My bill ensures the United States digital currency policy is in the hands of the American people – not the Administrative State – so that it reflects our American values of privacy, individual sovereignty, and free market competitiveness.”

The Bill Passes The House

The bill has already passed the House Financial Services Committee. And, as mentioned , it only needs to pass the Senate and receive a signature from the US President to become a law.

The CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act was reintroduced  on September 12th, and co-signed by 50 representatives, including Emmer.

“The administration has made it clear: President Biden is willing to compromise the American people’s right to financial privacy for a surveillance-style CBDC. That’s why I’m reintroducing my landmark legislation to put a check on unelected bureaucrats and ensure the United States’ digital currency policy upholds our values of privacy, individual sovereignty, and free-market competitiveness,” Whip Emmer said.

Ryan Walker, Acting Executive Director of Heritage Action also added “We commend Congressman Emmer’s sweeping bill to prohibit a CBDC issued both directly from the Fed to Americans and indirectly via banks or other intermediaries. All members of Congress should support this measure to protect individual liberty and prevent threats of government coercion through the financial sector.”

Whether the bill will actually pass the Senate is something that time will only tell. However, what is obvious is that it will be in direct contradiction to how the US Securities and Exchange Chairman Gary Gensler plans on running the crypto legislation sector.

Considering the bill aims to strip the federal government, as referred to by Emmer as “unelected bureaucrats”, of power over a key payment option, Gensler is likely to fight it on all fronts possible.

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