SEC's Peirce calls for an 'embrace' of the personal liberty ethos that underlies crypto

If a new speech is any indication, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce believes crypto is a battleground for the conversation surrounding government power and personal liberty.

In a speech today to the Federalist Society, Peirce — a dissenting voice against the SEC's past rejections of proposed bitcoin exchange-traded funds — said crypto poses new challenges to regulators, but that agencies "should figure out a way to embrace the personal liberty principles undergirding it."

Peirce cautioned against an excess of central planning, which she said is making a comeback through federal climate change efforts. Crypto's acts as opposition to central planning, according to Peirce.

For that reason, she said regulators must wrestle with the growing myriad of problems that the crypto space — and especially decentralized finance or DeFi — creates for enforcement, rather than curb its potential with undue regulation.

"If we were instead to steamroll the technology’s liberty-enhancing features under the weight of regulation, we would lose a lot of the power of the new technology to afford opportunities to people whose autonomy has previously been curbed by, for example, limited access to the traditional financial system, geographic location, social standing, or subjection to a repressive government," said Peirce.

With her growing concerns of personal liberty as it relates to financial regulation, Peirce quipped that her affinity for the Consolidated Audit Trail — a reporting utility that would enable the SEC to track orders and broker activity through the trade cycle with greater transparency — might earn her a new nickname. 

"I have spoken so often of my concerns about the CAT that I dread seeing my moniker change from CryptoMom to CATLady," she said. "The liberty implications of this proposal, however, warrant continued mention."