Discover more from Association of Cryptocurrency Journalists and Researchers
ACJR leadership elections are coming up! 🤓
The best blockchain and crypto industry coverage in September 2021
Happy September from the Association of Cryptocurrency Journalists and Researchers! 👋
It has been a long month. El Salvador officially started accepting bitcoin as legal tender, everyone thought that Walmart was going to start accepting Litecoin (it’s not), and Coinbase added memecoin SHIB as a trading option...all that and there are still two weeks left to go in September!
Luckily, we at the ACJR are here to give you our monthly roundup of the best news coverage and research in the space — plus a few little announcements of our own. First of all, a big shout-out to everyone that came to our NYC ACJR crypto happy hour! Look at all those smiling faces.
It’s never too late to apply for ACJR membership. If you’re interested in getting access to our full membership benefits (including a members-only Telegram chat), please apply here. Whether you're a journalist, a researcher, or just someone interested in the crypto space you can join our wide variety of events and in-person meetups. For journalists, in particular, you can join our “Off the Record” (virtual) events and seminars.
Want to get even more involved in shaping the future of crypto journalism? Join the ACJR leadership board! We’re kicking off the first community election in Q4 2021, opening the board to the next batch of ACJR officers that will determine how the nonprofit allocates resources. Open officer roles include co-president, co-treasurer, and co-secretary, up to six prospective leadership roles.
Officers have the power to organize educational and networking programs, distribute awards and scholarships, and get free lifetime ACJR membership! To submit your name for the first ACJR election cycle, email email@example.com with your resume and a short description of what you want the nonprofit to achieve in 2022. Candidates must already be an ACJR member, so apply here if you haven’t already.
Our “Off the Record” series is back this month — this time, sponsored by Kraken!
Join us on September 27 for a session on “Crypto Goes to Washington,” where CoinDesk reporter Nikhilesh De, The New York Times reporter Ephrat Livni, and Politico reporter Kellie Mejdrich talk about the upcoming infrastructure bill and how crypto became a part of the legislative conversation.
You can register for the events here, as well as see what other upcoming “Off the Record” sessions we will have this fall.
For crypto researchers out there, there is now a chance to get a grant from the DeFi Education fund. Are you interested in educating policymakers about DeFi? This grant program is looking for crypto natives to help explain DeFi to confused lawmakers! Venture capitalist Li Jin is also hiring a crypto-focused researcher for Atelier Ventures. The crypto job market is booming.
There’s also a new crypto research newsletter in the game — “The Bitcoin Layer,” written by “Layered Money” author Nik Bhatia. If you’re interested in deep analysis of Bitcoin, this is for you. And for those more interested in NFTs, check out the “Means of Creation” podcast’s new Youtube video about publishing, NFTs, and commerce.
Before we head down to the best journalistic pieces this month, we wanted to shout out an opinion piece from Bitcoin Magazine on the Lightning Network. The author’s opinion is pretty obvious (the piece is called “Why The Bitcoin Lightning Network Doesn’t Work (Yet),” which makes it even more fun to read.
For the first time we are listing two articles by the same journalist in the roundup because, frankly, MacKenzie is just killing it. We love how these pieces break down the economic history that lends bitcoin value in each particular community.
“FBI Screwup Lets Agents Access Information They Weren’t Supposed to See,” by Jose Pagliery and Shannon Varva, The Daily Beast
While this piece is technically only crypto-adjacent, it touches on very important privacy concerns and how the government can abuse digital evidence — a topic near and dear to many crypto fans’ hearts.
“Loot Is a Viral Social Network That Looks Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen,” by Casey Newton, The Verge
Loot has quickly become the summer’s trendiest NFT project. Did you know it was made by a co-creator of Vine? Or that Loot bags of NFTs contain gear (in text form) for a game that doesn’t actually exist? Confused? Read this piece!
“Cryptocurrencies: Developing Countries Provide Fertile Ground” by Jonathan Wheatley and Adrienne Klasa, Financial Times
We often talk about how crypto can “bank the unbanked,” but this piece actually goes into detail about different emerging economies (Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil, to name a few) and how cryptocurrency can be useful there.
And now for two pieces that we wish did just a little bit better.
The New York Times opinion section published a piece by Binyamin Appelbaum, “Bitcoin Cosplay Is Getting Real,” that erroneously compared the return of a bitcoin ransom (though blockchain tracing) to cracking the Enigma code in WWII. We don’t care that the piece is negative about Bitcoin, we do care that the author clearly doesn’t know how a blockchain works.
The New York Times published yet another egregious error, earlier this month, in a piece about Bitcoin and electricity usage. The incorrect article implied that all Coinbase exchange transactions must be validated by the Bitcoin network, thus using copious amounts of energy. That’s not how this technology actually works. Decrypt’s editor Jeff Roberts pointed out in a response that most Coinbase transactions are actually cleared internally. They don’t use the proof-of-work-fueled Bitcoin blockchain.
Ahead of the September 27 vote on the infrastructure bill, we have a note from crypto-focused attorney Grant Gulovsen:
On July 28, 2021, the White House first announced that it had reached an agreement on the details of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) (the “Infrastructure Bill”) which would be taken up for consideration shortly thereafter in the Senate.
As stated by the White House, the would be “financed through a combination of [various measures, including] strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to cryptocurrencies.” In particular, the bill would amend the U.S. Tax Code to define a “broker” to include “any person who (for consideration) is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person."
The crypto industry quickly picked up on this problematic language, expressing concern that the expanded definition of “broker” could include things such as miners, validators and even software developers, many of whom would be faced with difficulty (if not outright impossibility) complying with the new reporting requirements.
What then followed was a series of amendments (and counter-amendments) offered by various other Senators, ultimately resulting in a compromise amendment presented by Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) which clarified the definition of a “broker” to exclude validators, hardware and software wallet makers, and protocol developers.
All of this ended up being for naught, however, when Richard Shelby (R-Al.) objected on August 9, 2021. As a result, the original “broker” language mentioned above remained in the Infrastructure Bill when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 69-30 on August 10, 2021.
Where Is the Bill Now?
As of this writing, the Infrastructure Bill has moved to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is scheduled to be voted on September 27, 2021. However,because of some procedural maneuvers that are beyond the scope of this article, no amendments will be considered, so the same language referenced above is going to be included in the final bill when it goes up for a vote in the House.
Perhaps the only silver lining in all of this (at least so far), is that the U.S. Treasury Department has indicated that it is “set to clarify that only cryptocurrency companies it considers brokers will need to comply with proposed IRS reporting requirements.” However, as of the date of this writing, no such clarification appears to have been published yet.
What This All Means
First and foremost, I believe the crypto provisions were thrown into the Infrastructure Bill as what was thought to be a quick and easy way to help get the bill passed because the crypto industry was not considered an important or vocal enough constituency to worry about (note — boy did they get that wrong).
Second, if Congress was actually serious about raising $28 billion from the crypto industry, the last thing it should have done was change the rules in such a way that it would cripple that industry (because you can’t raise $28 billion from an industry if it no longer exists). This suggests a lack of education among lawmakers.
Third and finally, although the crypto industry is really good at mobilizing in a *reactive* manner, I personally don’t believe it is very good at engaging with lawmakers and regulators in a *proactive* manner.
Luckily, thanks to Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — the same Senator who co-sponsored the original amendments to the Infrastructure Bill — we still have an opportunity to educate American leaders about blockchain technology.
Toomey has specifically requested feedback from the crypto industry on clarifying laws around cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies. Until September 27, 2021, you can submit your thoughts directly to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee about how you think the U.S. government should “encourage the growth of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the United States.”
This is, in my opinion, a very rare and very important opportunity that should be taken advantage of by anyone who cares about the future of crypto in the U.S.
You should *not* rely on the crypto lobbyists to do this work for you. They may (or may not) share your vision of what crypto can or should be in the future. If you have ideas that you believe should be heard, click on that link and show them that we want to have a say in the future of our industry.
(courtesy of Nic Carter)
Subscribe here! Don’t think, just click! 😉