Congressman Warns that Central Bank Digital Currencies Could be Used to Spy on American Citizens 

During a speech at the Cato Institute, Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer argued that the launch of a central bank digital currency in the United States could lead to the mass violation of privacy rights in America.   

At his March 9, 2023, speech Emmer argued that a CBDC would be “easily weaponized” as a surveillance mechanism to “choke out politically unpopular activity” and other forms of dissident activity:

“As the federal government seeks to maintain and expand financial control to which it has grown accustomed, the idea of the central bank digital currency has gained traction within the institutions of power in the United States as a government-controlled programmable money that can be easily weaponized into a surveillance tool.”

On February 22, Emmer introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance Act to stop the creation of the Digital Dollar Project, which has witnessed considerable progress in how it would be implemented since the second version of the project’s white paper was published in the middle of January.

“Recent actions from the Biden Administration make it clear that they are not only itching to create a digital dollar but they are willing to trade Americans’ right to financial privacy for the surveillance-style CBDC,” he continued.

Emmer believes that the “ownership economy” the organic, free-market cryptocurrency sector is promoting is a major threat to the bureaucratic class in the DC Swamp, as it “shifts economic power from centralized institutions back into the hands of the people.”

According to Cointelegraph, the Federal Reserve’s latest discussion paper tried to allay fears of CBDCs by noting that it would only implement them provided that they have “broad public and cross-governmental support.” 

Emmer and other pro-cryptocurrency advocates are still concerned with the potential dangers that are attached with CBDCs:

“It not only tracks transaction level data down to the individual user but also the ability to program the CBDC to choke out politically unpopular activity.”

Emmer believes that decentralized cryptocurrencies can produce a viable alternative to the US’s fiat monetary system and restore many of the “American values” that turned the US into an economic superpower in the 20th century. Namely, free markets, individual sovereignty, and privacy were the principles that he believes made America great. 

He stressed that by even conducting experiments with CBDCs, the US is undermining these values:

Nothing could be more dangerous than adhering to a manufactured sense of urgency like this and ultimately developing a CBDC that is not open, permissionless and private.

Overall, Emmer’s concerns are merited. CBDCs are a technocrat’s wet dream as far as weaponizing technology goes. They offer bureaucrats the chance to use otherwise promising technology to snoop on people and micromanage their economic lives like never before. 

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