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The SEC is facing another defeat in its recycled lawsuit against Kraken

Validated Media

The legal duel between the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Kraken, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, looks like another misguided attempt by the SEC to exert control over an industry that fundamentally challenges an outdated regulatory playbook. The agency’s lawsuit, filed in November, accuses Kraken of operating as an unregistered securities exchange.

The lawsuit isn’t just a repeat of the SEC’s past failures. It’s also a glaring example of regulatory overreach that fails to grasp the essence of cryptocurrency. It mirrors the agency’s actions against Coinbase, which mark a pattern of aggressive regulation that is both ineffectual and counterproductive. In its case against Coinbase, the SEC allegations similarly involved operating as an unregistered securities exchange. The approach fundamentally misunderstands the nature of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The lawsuit isn’t just a repeat of the SEC’s past failures. It’s also a glaring example of regulatory overreach that fails to grasp the essence of cryptocurrency. It mirrors the agency’s actions against Coinbase, which mark a pattern of aggressive regulation that is both ineffectual and counterproductive. In its case against Coinbase, the SEC allegations similarly involved operating as an unregistered securities exchange. The approach fundamentally misunderstands the nature of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Unlike traditional securities exchanges, platforms like Kraken offer a diverse range of digital assets that do not fit neatly into the securities framework. This misclassification by the SEC reveals a lack of understanding of the unique characteristics of cryptocurrencies, which function as decentralized assets, often with utility or currency-like features rather than conventional securities.

The SEC lawsuit against Kraken shamed the exchange for telling users they could attempt to profit by dollar-cost averaging into Solana. Source: Securities & Exchange Commission

One of the most striking issues is the absence of technological neutrality — the principle that regulatory frameworks should apply equally to all forms of technology, without favoring or penalizing any particular one. By forcing cryptocurrencies into the traditional securities mold, the SEC is not only misapplying laws but also showing a clear bias against digital assets. This lack of neutrality not only hinders innovation but also unfairly targets platforms that are striving to work within the regulatory landscape.

The SEC's aggressive stance risks driving business away from the U.S. to more crypto-friendly jurisdictions. This phenomenon, known as regulatory arbitrage, could result in the U.S. losing its position as a leader in technological innovation. The crypto industry is global, and excessive regulation in one country simply pushes businesses to relocate, taking their economic benefits and innovations with them.

The Kraken lawsuit is set to become another example of the SEC's failure to successfully regulate the crypto industry, akin to the outcome of its actions against Coinbase. This repetitive cycle of aggressive and misinformed regulation is not only futile but also harmful to the credibility of the SEC. It sends a message that the regulatory body is more interested in flexing its regulatory muscle than in understanding and adapting to new technological paradigms.

The case isn’t just an isolated legal battle. It is indicative of a broader issue within the U.S. regulatory framework's approach to cryptocurrencies. The SEC must move beyond its current, outdated tactics and engage with the crypto industry in a more informed and constructive manner. Regulation is necessary, but it must be reasonable, well-informed, and designed to foster innovation, not stifle it.

It looks the SEC is set for another resounding defeat, which will serve as one more reminder of the need for a new approach by regulators.

Daniele Servadeiis the 20-year-old founder and CEO of Sellix, an Italian e-commerce platform that has processed more than $75 million in transactions for more than 2.3 million customers worldwide. He's attending the University of Parma for a degree in computer science.

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