WASHINGTON —Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., sent a letter to two virtual currency associations on Thursday asking them to adopt practices to curb hate groups from using anonymous payment technologies to fund themselves.
Cleaver, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, cited reports that some of the hate groups that surfaced during the violent Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally in August are reportedly using cryptocurrencies to fund their operations after getting shut out by other financial services providers.
“I am concerned both that the bitcoin ecosystem may be providing a welcoming environment for the funding of campaigns of hatred and hostility, and that the movement of funds among anonymous white supremacist accounts will be increasingly difficult to monitor,” Cleaver said in the letter to Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Digital Chamber of Commerce, and Brock Pierce, chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation.
“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,” the congressman wrote.
Cleaver pointed to crowdfunding platforms and a “major transaction services company” that took steps to tighten rules to prevent their services from being used to fund hate and violence after Charlottesville.
Apple Pay reportedly dropped support for websites that sold white supremacist merchandise.
Cleaver said cryptocurrency has “tremendous potential that should not be dismissed” but asked that the bitcoin community take steps to police itself.
“Government with all of its procedures and complexities, may move slower than the pace of the technology at times, but does and will continue to rely on the private sector to implement timely responses to matters of technological concern,” Cleaver wrote.
“I would be pleased to learn that your members are adopting terms and service that would result in restrictions or closure of accounts that facilitate such reprehensible uses," he added, "but, more importantly, I am eager to know where your organization stands.”