Crypto lobbyists condemn industry trolls targeting MEPs – POLITICO

After the European Parliament approved amendments to tighten crypto market oversight last week, MEPs have faced a spate of sexist, racist, and abusive slurs from online trolls.

And two women in Parliament are getting the brunt of the attacks — in a pattern of cyberbullying that has been established for years.

The attack has now prompted industry groups to condemn the vitriol despite their objections to the underlying legislation.

One of them is the European Crypto Initiative (EUCI), which sent out letters on Wednesday to the MPs involved in developing rigorous due diligence checks for the crypto market to prevent money laundering.

“We deeply regret the personal attacks that have taken place,” EUCI said three co-founders, wrote Simon Polrot, Marina Markežič and Florian Gatz in the letter available to POLITICO. “We wish to lead by example on behalf of the many well-meaning European crypto players, take responsibility for the behavior of this community and set clear guidelines on how we believe constructive and respectful debate should take place.”

Blockchain also for Europe condemned the online abuseShe wrote on Twitter that there was “no excuse for verbal aggression.”

France’s S&D member Aurore Lalucq was among the MPs who fell victim to online abuse.

It’s about Parliament’s amendments to the so-called Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR), which has caused an uproar among both individuals and mainstream companies in the crypto market, although the changes are not final. A final round of legislative talks with EU capitals could yet overturn Parliament’s amendments.

However, once these changes are complete, businesses would need to look at who is sending and receiving any amount of funds in the form of crypto.

MEPs say tighter controls are needed to stop criminals abusing the crypto market’s anonymity to move illicit funds. But crypto advocates say the changes are a gross invasion of privacy, and the move has sparked calls to action from the likes of US exchange Coinbase – the second largest in the world in terms of trading volume.

reputation setback

While MPs are used to political crowds, those involved were shocked by the backlash that followed. Most notably, online trolls targeted the two women leading the effort: Belgian Assita Kanko of the European Conservatives and Reformists and French S&D member Aurore Lalucq.

“I was appalled by the insults, aggressiveness and spamming because I’m human,” Burkina Faso-born Kanko wrote in an email. The 41-year-old co-leader of the parliamentary hearings added that she believes the attacks came from a small but vocal group within the crypto community. “I look forward to working together and building laws that protect society and create more space for innovation and trust.”

Lalucq said she welcomes the statements from EUCI and Blockchain for Europe, which she believes are “a responsible move”. She added that she hopes “other members of the crypto industry will follow” after blocking messages to her own Twitter account to stem the flow of attacks.

EUCI and Blockchain for Europe say they don’t want the online attacks to affect their relationship with lawmakers in Brussels, particularly given the concerns they have about Parliament’s amendments. For their part, Kanko and Lalucq say they are interested in moving forward and would like to sit down with responsible industry representatives.

But Dutch S&D MP Paul Tang, who was branded a Nazi during the onslaught of online insults, was less lenient.

“It damages the reputation of the crypto industry, which is not in good shape anyway,” he said. “It’s in worse shape than the financial sector was in just before the 2007 crisis. It is opaque and many in the community act like members of a cult and do not take broader responsibility for society.” Crypto lobbyists condemn industry trolls targeting MEPs - POLITICO

Fry Electronics Team

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