To that end, last week, the National Association of Attorneys General held a conference in Burlington, Vermont, entitled “The Surveillance Economy: How Attorneys General Protect Privacy, Safety, and Equality in the Information Age.” The event was attended by the AGs from Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Guam, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. While this conference focused on several important issues, including data privacy and artificial intelligence, an entire panel was dedicated to emerging issues in the cryptocurrency space, including cryptocurrency’s role in ransomware attacks.
The panel featured Hester Peirce, Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Brian Quintenz, former Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) (now an advisory partner at a cryptocurrency venture fund); and Bob Seeman, noted Bitcoin critic; and it was moderated by Vermont AG T.J. Donovan, who was well-versed and highly interested in the issue. Panelists discussed what cryptocurrency is and debated how to define it for the purposes of regulation (e.g., a security, a commodity, property, etc.) This definition is critical for how cryptocurrencies are issued, exchanged, taxed, and regulated. Panelists also debated whether cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that facilitates them are like “the early days of the internet” or “the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme” and a new age “tulipmania.” This sparked discussion over whether regulation of these products should be effectuated through enforcement or traditional rulemaking.