Dem congressman pushes to keep white supremacists away from cryptocurrency

Dem congressman pushes to keep white supremacists away from cryptocurrency
© Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker is pressing cryptocurrency groups to make sure that white supremacists and other extremists don’t use their technology to secure funds.

ADVERTISEMENT
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) in letters to the Bitcoin Foundation and the Digital Chamber of Commerce recounted how white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va., procured funding on financial technology apps like PayPal and Venmo. Such companies promptly banned known white supremacists from their platforms.

“Unfortunately, however, the actors that violated the terms and conditions of the aforementioned online payment systems have found an alternative in cryptocurrency,” Cleaver wrote to the groups, which lobby on behalf of organizations that work with cryptocurrencies.

After being driven off other platforms, white supremacists have turned to cryptocurrencies to solicit and store funds.   

Reveal News found one instance in which a neo-Nazi received a total of $1 million worth of bitcoin. Other white supremacists regularly receive and exchange bitcoin.  

“In light of these facts, it is clear that the corporate cryptocurrency community should take the necessary steps to deter these troubling activities,” Cleaver wrote.

“I would like to know what steps your members are taking to ensure that the bitcoin services they provide are not being used to facilitate radical campaigns of abuse, harassment and/or violence against Americans.”

Cleaver also noted that despite his concerns, he believes that cryptocurrency “is a technology with tremendous potential” that “should not be stifled.”

Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies are often decentralized and don’t have a single authority regulating their use, making it difficult for anyone to be banned from using the technology. But exchanges and digital wallets where such currency is swapped and stored are often controlled by companies that can regulate who uses their platforms.