HomeCryptoThe Newest Privacy Conflict in the World of Cryptocurrency

The Newest Privacy Conflict in the World of Cryptocurrency


The Threat of the SEC’s Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) to Personal Privacy and Digital Asset Industry

The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) latest mass surveillance tool, the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT), has gone “fully operational” at the end of May, sparking concerns over personal privacy and government overreach. The CAT requires SEC registered broker-dealers, exchanges, and alternative trading systems to collect and report trade information related to every U.S. trade, as well as the personal information of every U.S. retail brokerage customer.

While the impact on traditional financial institutions is evident, the implications for participants in the digital asset economy are also significant. The CAT will be the largest database of securities transactions ever built, raising fears of unchecked government surveillance. The collection of data points about trades, traders, and retail customers, including customer names, addresses, and account details, could potentially include transaction identifiers and wallet addresses for digital asset market participants.

The concerns are further exacerbated by recent regulatory developments, such as the finalization of the Dealer rule-making and the proposed rule to expand the definition of what constitutes an “exchange.” If these rules stand, digital asset users’ information will be reported to the CAT, exposing unprecedented amounts of crypto trading data and personal customer information to surveillance.

Former Attorney General William Barr has raised constitutional concerns over CAT, emphasizing the need to respect individual rights and privacy. Despite warnings from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce and organizations like the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) about the security risks posed by the database, the SEC has yet to implement amendments to enhance cybersecurity.

The implementation of CAT has already led to two lawsuits challenging its release, highlighting the importance of judicial oversight in curbing government overreach. The crypto community is urged to voice opposition to CAT and educate elected representatives about the threat it poses to constitutional rights and privacy.

In a society where privacy should be the norm, excessive financial surveillance regimes like CAT raise serious concerns about government intrusion into personal financial matters. It is essential to push back against regulatory overreach and protect Americans’ rights to privacy in the face of growing surveillance measures.


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