New Threat to Crypto With FISA Renewal, Vitalik Buterin Speaks Out

Joe Biden signed the bill extending Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for two more years. The legislation enables surveillance that may affect the crypto market worldwide.

FISA surveillance

The US Senate dealt a critical blow to privacy by renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Friday after the bill passed the House last week. On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed the legislation giving a swathe of spying capabilities to the US surveillance institutions.

In short, Section 702 of the FISA allows the US government to collect information on foreign nationals living outside the country without needing a warrant. Privacy advocates raise concerns that the provision is susceptible to misuse and abuse, leading to data collection on US citizens.

American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties organizations argue that Section 702 has served as a convenient "backdoor" for gathering intel on Americans, allowing law enforcement institutions to prosecute suspects for crimes unrelated to national security without proper authorization.

Elizabeth Goitein, a senior director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty & National Security Program, stated, "The provision effectively grants the NSA access to the communications equipment of almost any US business, plus huge numbers of organizations and individuals."

The controversial law can have a negative effect on the crypto market in the US and globally. Especially so with the growing push towards regulation, KYC, and combating under-the-radar transactions. The FISA renewal hasn't escaped the attention of industry leaders.

Vitalik Buterin posted a statement on Twitter reminding that crypto is more than just trading tokens and it involves "a broader ethos of freedom and privacy." He also noted that those values continue to be under attack not just in the US but globally.

Values aside, with the reauthorized FISA bill, the US government maintains its extensive authority to collect data from a number of sources, including tech companies like Google and Facebook, without asking for a warrant. The crypto industry, which has emphasized decentralization and anonymity from its inception, is particularly vulnerable to these surveillance powers.

Regulatory bodies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as well as the Department of Justice (DOJ), may use the legislation to ramp up campaigns against crypto businesses, including DEX platforms (decentralized exchanges) to force compliance and data collection requirements.

In essence, the renewal of FISA poses grave challenges to the industry's core principles of decentralization and privacy, which have already been damaged by ongoing crackdowns.