What the Biden Executive Order on Digital Assets Means for Privacy

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Author: Dale Rappaneau

Dale Rappaneau is a policy intern at the Future of Privacy Forum and a 3L at the University of Maine School of Law.

On March 9, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order on “Ensuring Responsible Developments of Digital Assets” (“the Order”), published together with an explanatory Fact Sheet. The Order states that the growing adoption of digital assets throughout the economy and inconsistent controls to mitigate their risks necessitates a new governmental approach to regulating digital assets.

The Order outlines a whole-of-government approach to address a wide range of technological frameworks, including blockchain protocols and centralized systems. The Order frames this approach as an important step toward safeguarding consumers and businesses from illicit activities and potential privacy harms involving digital assets. In particular, it calls for a list of federal agencies and regulators to assess digital assets, consider future action, and ultimately provide reports recommending how to achieve the Order’s numerous policy goals. The Order recognizes the importance of incorporating data and privacy protections into this approach, which indicates that the Administration is actively considering the privacy risks associated with digital assets.

1. Covered Technologies

Definitions

Digital Assets – The Order defines digital assets broadly, including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and all central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), regardless of the technology used. The term also refers to any other representations of value or financial instrument issued or represented in a digital form through the use of distributed ledger technology relying on cryptography, such as a blockchain protocol.

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