In a landmark case that could have far-reaching implications for the intersection of digital privacy and law enforcement, the DeFi Education Fund (DEF) has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the unique aspects of cryptocurrency technology when evaluating the Fourth Amendment rights of cryptocurrency users.
The case, IRS v. James Harper, revolves around the government’s order to cryptocurrency exchange Kraken to provide data related to the cryptocurrency transaction records of more than 14,000 people, including Harper, for tax enforcement purposes. Kraken challenged the order, arguing that it was an overreach of authority and could compromise users’ personal data. In its amicus brief, the DEF argues that the Supreme Court must treat the Fourth Amendment protections differently in cases involving information held by third parties. The organization asserts that Carpenter v. United States (2018) should be considered the most recent and authoritative statement on the “third-party” doctrine, effectively limiting the scope of government access to private data.
The DEF also underscores the unique nature of cryptocurrency transactions, emphasizing that they are not analogous to traditional banking. Unlike traditional banks, cryptocurrency transactions are recorded on a public ledger, making them traceable by anyone. The DEF asserts that the government’s request to access cryptocurrency transaction records provides an unprecedented window into users’ financial lives and personal associations. Finally, the DEF invokes Supreme Court precedents, such as Kyllo v. United States and Carpenter, to argue that the court must adapt its approach to privacy concerns in light of evolving technology. The brief contends that the government’s ability to access unlimited unrelated transactions through cryptocurrency technology necessitates a reevaluation of existing Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.
The DEF’s amicus brief raises important considerations for the Supreme Court as it deliberates on this case. The outcome of the case has the potential to set a precedent for protecting digital assets and personal information in an ever-evolving technological landscape.