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  • L Misthos and M Bacina

US State Legislatures bizarrely seek to “ban” Central Bank Digital Currencies

State legislatures in the United States are oddly fighting back against the JUS Federal government's proposed introduction of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis has recently sought to block the use of CBDCs in business money transactions by signing a bill to amend the state's Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).

The "ban", according to Mr DeSantis is to prevent government overreach and the transfer of power from individual consumers to a central authority. Mr DeSantis cited that a future government may be able to stop someone purchasing a gun or buying too much gasoline.

According to Carla Reyes, an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law the "ban" seems to arise out of a misunderstanding of the UCC and how CBDCs operate.

They didn't ban anything...The law does exactly zero of the things that it says that it does.

In fact, the bill signed by Governor DeSantis does not provide any roadblock to CBDCs in Florida, as that is not within the power of the UCC.

According to legal scholar and teacher at University of Pennsylvania's Carey Law School Andrea Tosato, the UCC represents standards for basic transactions and give both parties in a transaction basic legal protections. The UCC, according to Ms Tosato, does not tell parties what they can or can't exchange, whether it is fiat or digital currency, and that this is the job of regulations or criminal codes.

Ms Tosato took issue with the Florida's definition of CBDC as something which is problematic, but also with the effect of the change.

the rabbit hole and the craziness of what was done with this Florida bill...there is no light-bulb moment. It makes no sense.

At a press conference Governor DeSantis made his speech in front of a sign which read "Big Brother's Digital Dollar", indicating not only a distrust with the Federal Government's "control" over a CBDC, but also potential privacy implications.

This appears to be borne out of a fundamental understanding of CBDCs which are underpinned by a transparent and accessible blockchain. Further, other jurisdictions which have entered into the CBDC space, such as the United Kingdom with its 'Digital Pound', have emphasised the importance of baking in privacy and data protection.

According to legal scholars, Florida's amendment to the UCC has no power at law to ban CBDCs and if Congress eventually authorises a federal CBDC, this will override any state-based legislation.

By Michael Bacina and Luke Misthos


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