Trudeau’s Government Seeks to Make Expanded Digital Financial Surveillance, Including Cryptos, Permanent

Trudeau’s Government Seeks to Make Expanded Digital Financial Surveillance, Including Cryptos, Permanent

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau invoked a country-wide Emergency Act against the Ottawa trucker convoy. The Emergency Act criminalizes many things, among them; financing the protestors. To enforce the rule, the government has full authority to freeze bank and crypto trading accounts suspected of aiding the truckers. According to finance minister Chrystia Freeland, the country is also considering making some of the current rules permanent.

Canada to Make the Extensive Digital Financial Surveillance Permanent

Following Justin Trudeau’s government’s invocation of the National Emergencies Act, the Ottawa truckers were caught in a tight space. The Act encompasses different rules that criminalize activities like blockades and financing of the protestors. It allows the government authorities to scrutinize all financial transactions, including cryptos, and freeze the suspected ones.

Last Friday, Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said that the Act is helping the government to prevent money laundering and financial terrorism. The broadened power requires all digital transactions, including cryptocurrency, to be monitored by FinTrac. She explained :

“As of today, all crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use must register with Fintrac, and they must report large and suspicious transactions to Fintrac.”

Freeland justified the move to mitigate the risks of illicit funds and provide more information for the Fintrac to use in investigations. Before invoking the Act, the Canadian truckers were not captured by the country’s existing surveillance powers. Therefore, the authorities are preparing a legislature to provide that surveillance power to the Fintrac permanently.

The Ongoing Digital Financial Surveillance Saga in Canada

Last Friday, Freeland reiterated the point at another press conference, saying:

“We reviewed very, very carefully the tools at the disposal of the federal government, and we used all the tools that we had prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and we determined that we needed some additional tools,” she noted. “Now some of those tools, we will be putting forward measures to put those tools permanently in place. The authorities of FinTrac, I believe, do need to be expanded to cover crowdsourcing platforms and their payment providers.”

Canada’s current government has shown how it can work with overpowered surveillance. Last week, numerous truckers were arrested for violating the Act. The government was also empowered to freeze bank accounts and cancel insurances without the need for a court order. Last Wednesday, the Justice Minister also said that those who contributed money digitally(including cryptos) should worry over a possible account freeze.

The news of the possibility of the government making the rules permanent is worrying since it previously promised that they would be temporary. Now, only time will tell how the financial landscape in Canada may change considering that the government seems hungry for more surveillance power.

Crypto Regulation in Canada

Canada is among the few countries with working crypto regulations. In FEB 2020, it introduced the Virtual Currency Travel Rule requiring all institutions to keep records of cross-border transactions. The country also treats the coins as securities and uses securities laws in their monitoring.

Now, it wants to keep the power to surveil all digital transactions through legislation. The happenings of the coming weeks may change the scope of crypto usage in Canada forever. If the rules are made permanent, crypto investors there may feel the pinch of a forced centralization in assets designed to be decentralized.

However, the self-hosting of BTC and altcoins can help circumvent the powers of state seizure of assets. Self-hosted cryptos can keep investments away from government seizure since they are private possessions. Therefore, the adoption of BTC and other cryptos may be vital in evading the freezing of assets without consent.

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