Joe Biden to Bring 30 Countries Together to Stem ‘Illicit use of Cryptocurrency’

October 05, 2021, 10:00 AM AEST - 1 week ago

US President Joe Biden intends to marshall the resources of 30 other countries to try to prevent “the illicit use of cryptocurrency”.

In a statement released to mark the beginning of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Biden said the US was linking up with nations around the world – “including our NATO allies and G7 partners” – to respond to cybersecurity threats.

We must lock our digital doors – by encrypting our data and using multi-factor authentication, for example – and we must build technology securely by design, enabling consumers to understand the risks in the technologies they buy.

Joe Biden White House briefing, October 1

The president said he was committed to strengthening US cybersecurity by “hardening critical infrastructure against cyberattacks, disrupting ransomware networks, working to establish and promote clear rules of the road for all nations in cyberspace, and making clear we will hold accountable those that threaten our security”.

Biden Ramping Up Against Ransomware

The Biden administration has been already ramping up measures against ransomware. Last month, the US Treasury announced “a set of actions focused on disrupting criminal networks and virtual currency exchanges responsible for laundering ransoms” as part of a whole-of-government effort to counter ransomware.

Also in September, Treasury issued the country’s first sanctions against a cryptocurrency exchange. Registered in Prague but based in Moscow and St Petersburg, Suex was linked to alleged ransomware cash-outs among other transgressions.

Ssshhhh … Don’t Mention Russia!

Conspicuously absent in Biden’s statement was any mention of Russia, in particular its growing ecosystem of cyber gangs. Yet ransomware had loomed large in conversations between Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in July.

Meanwhile, just last month the US Securities and Exchange Commission quietly signed off on a deal to spy on crypto DeFi transactions. And in May, Biden revealed a new proposal to report crypto transactions over US$10,000 from 2023, with the aim of generating an additional US$700 billion in tax revenue each year.

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