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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

Congressman Cleaver Urges Cryptocurrency Companies to Monitor Extremist Groups

Feb 8, 2018
Press Release
Cleaver writes to the Bitcoin Foundation and other organizations imploring them to ensure bitcoin services are not used to harm Americans

(Washington D.C.) – Today, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) sent letters to the Bitcoin Foundation and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, calling for these entities to do more in efforts to prevent extremist groups from using cryptocurrency to fund campaigns of hate and violence.

"It is clear to me that cryptocurrency technology has the opportunity to play an influential role in finance as technology evolves. However, we must be diligent in ensuring this technology is not being used to support groups that wage campaigns of hate, abuse, anti-Semitism, discrimination, or violence," said Congressman Cleaver.

Following the deadly rally in Charlottesville last year, digital payment companies have worked to prevent their platforms from being utilized by hateful or violent extremists. However, many of these bad actors have started to rely on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It was recently reported that the head of a white nationalist movement stated that, “Bitcoin is the currency of the alt-right.”

“It is not my intention to stifle this growing technological industry, but rather work with them to root out these nefarious groups. I look forward to working with the Bitcoin Foundation and the Chamber of Digital Commerce in attempts to eliminate bigoted organizations from fundraising on their platforms,” Cleaver continued.

Congressman Cleaver has been an advocate for fighting discrimination in the tech industry and for greater accountability by social media platforms.

In November of 2017, Congressman Cleaver and Congresswoman Watson Coleman wrote to the Internet Association (IA) demanding accountability from the organization. The letter can be read here. The members urged the organization to stop the spread of racial and gender bias through technology and adopt practices to hold IA members accountable when it comes to the rise of Artificial Intelligence technology and the use of potentially discriminatory algorithms. IA responded and created a new role and inclusion initiative within its organization to work on discrimination issues and diversity in the tech industry.

In October of 2017, Congressman Cleaver and Congresswoman Watson Coleman sent a letter to Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, encouraging him to take immediate action to combat the spread of racially divisive communications and take seriously the threat of foreign entities’ use of the site to undermine American democracy. Twitter responded by stating it would enforce new policies to ban racist and violent posts from its platform.

Cleaver was also among members of the Congressional Black Caucus who met with, Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, to discuss allegations that Russian-backed agencies exploited the company’s system to influence the outcome of the 2016 election through the spread of racial and discriminatory messaging. Facebook responded with a series of policy changes and has since appointed its first African American to its Board of Directors.

The Letter to the Chamber of Digital Commerce can be found here.

The Letter to the The Bitcoin Foundation can be found here.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or Heather.Frierson@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.