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Op-Eds

Op-Eds

CoinDesk: In Lejilex vs. SEC, Crypto Goes on Offense in the Courts

Authored by Amanda Tuminelli & Jake Chervinsky; February 2024

CoinDesk: Congress Gets the Runaround From Regulators, Again

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine & Kristin Smith; November 2023

CoinDesk: When Did Privacy Become a Bad Word?

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine & Amanda Tuminelli; August 2023

Blockworks: Crypto rights are fundamental American rights

Authored by Amanda Tuminelli & Marisa Coppel; August 2023

Blockworks: Don’t Drive Crypto Into the EU’s Open Arms

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; May 2023

The American Conservative: The Wrong Lesson from the Fall of FTX

Authored by Lizandro Pieper; April 2023

CoinTelegraph: CBDCs will lead to absolute government control

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; April 2023

CoinDesk: Why Ex-SEC Official John Reed Stark Is Wrong About Crypto 

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; February 2023

Fortune: What the media gets wrong in its persistent crypto criticism 

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; July 2022

The Well News: DeFi Needs Flexible and Fair Regulation, Not Just Enforcement

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; June 2022

CoinDesk: The Scarcity Mindset Driving Crypto's Energy Critics 

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; May 2022

Decrypt: Cryptocurrencies Won’t Help Russia Evade Sanctions

Authored by Miller Whitehouse-Levine; March 2022

Media

Media Mentions
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Amanda Tuminelli, chief legal officer for crypto advocacy group the DeFi Education Fund, said in a statement to Law360 that the LEJILEX case sends a message to the SEC that industry participants intend to challenge the regulator on its crypto authority. "A ruling on the important questions raised by this suit would provide precedent for other federal courts to follow and would achieve a modicum of clarity for the sector in the United States," said Tuminelli. The DEF is not involved in the lawsuit.

The DeFi Education Fund (DEF), which also submitted a comment letter in 2022, said on Tuesday that the SEC’s new rule is “misguided and unworkable.” “While the SEC acknowledged receiving comments discussing DeFi, including our concerns, the SEC not only failed to confront the substance of our concerns but also failed altogether to articulate any discernible path to compliance for DeFi market participants,” DEF said. “Imposing obligations on entities in the DeFi ecosystem that cannot be complied with is wrong, impractical, and hostile to innovation.”

The DeFi Education Fund (DEF), which also submitted a comment letter in 2022, said on Tuesday that the SEC’s new rule is “misguided and unworkable.” “While the SEC acknowledged receiving comments discussing DeFi, including our concerns, the SEC not only failed to confront the substance of our concerns but also failed altogether to articulate any discernible path to compliance for DeFi market participants,” DEF said. “Imposing obligations on entities in the DeFi ecosystem that cannot be complied with is wrong, impractical, and hostile to innovation.”

The DeFi Education Fund was among crypto groups that objected to the original proposal. The group called Tuesday's final version "misguided and unworkable." "The SEC not only failed to confront the substance of our concerns but also failed altogether to articulate any discernible path to compliance for DeFi market participants," the organization said in a statement. "Imposing obligations on entities in the DeFi ecosystem that cannot be complied with is wrong, impractical, and hostile to innovation."

The DeFi Education Fund called the adopted rulemaking on Tuesday "misguided and unworkable." "While the SEC acknowledged receiving comments discussing DeFi, including our concerns, the SEC not only failed to confront the substance of our concerns but also failed altogether to articulate any discernible path to compliance for DeFi market participants," CEO Miller Whitehouse-Levine said in an emailed statement. "Imposing obligations on entities in the DeFi ecosystem that cannot be complied with is wrong, impractical, and hostile to innovation."

“The breadth and ambiguity of the proposal’s qualitative standards would raise many questions about the status of investors who use AMMs, other DeFi protocols, and other all-to-all execution protocols,” DeFi Education Fund CEO Miller Whitehouse Levine wrote in a letter.

For example, "everyday economic activity" like liquidity pools or swaps might be captured in the part of the proposal that addresses users exchanging different types of digital assets, a letter from the DeFi Education Fund said.

Further, in a memo she wrote when dismissing a lawsuit against Uniswap founder Hayden Adams, Failla distinguished between decentralized apps, protocols and tokens, in an “indication of how careful she will be here,” Chief Legal Officer at the DeFi Education Fund Amanda Tuminelli said.

A spokesperson from the DeFi Education Fund (DEF), a DeFi-focused research and advocacy group, told The Defiant the hearing was “a step forward.” Judge Failla called the group’s amicus brief, which the DEF filed in August, “really fine” for explaining what crypto wallets and staking really are. “That actually, in some respects, makes more sense to me than the [SEC’s] description of it in the complaint,” Failla said. “On wallets and staking, the court rightly noted the paucity of factual allegations in the SEC’s complaint, and we were happy to hear that our amicus brief on these issues was useful in the court’s understanding of them,” the spokesperson said.

“This is the most important case in decades for commerce in this country, the relationship between business and the government, and the relative balance of the legislative and executive branches,” Miller Whitehouse Levine, CEO of DeFi Education Fund, told DL News.

After years of ambiguity, 2024 and the years to follow look likely to cement the U.S. government’s relationship to digital assets. The stakes are high: Should the Biden administration get its way, DeFi might soon be effectively outlawed in America, the DeFi Education Fund’s Miller Whitehouse-Levine previously told Decrypt.

“Regulatory agencies — the CFPB included — are trying to grab jurisdiction in a way that creates statutory contradictions,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, CEO of the DeFi Education Fund, told DL News.

“At the moment, it is literally not possible to comply with the reporting requirement,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, CEO at the DeFi Education Fund, told Cointelegraph. What’s needed instead for the 60 million Americans who own digital assets today are “fit-for-purpose tax provisions” that basically regard crypto as a different sort of case.

The challenge has been led by the DeFi Education Fund, a crypto advocacy group that says that the technology the patent covers predates the patent itself and has called True Return Systems a "patent troll" that threatens to force anyone using oracle systems to pay. On the same day in 2022, True Return Systems brought two suits against what amount to technology programs, arguing that they were infringing on the True Return Systems patent.

“I think it's quite clear that it applies to pretty much any transaction in which someone is, in exchange for a good or service, receiving over $10,000 worth of crypto assets,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, CEO of the crypto lobbying group DeFi Education Fund, told Decrypt.

For years, sporadic enforcement actions and dragged-out lawsuits have defined the American government’s relationship to the crypto sector. According to Miller Whitehouse-Levine, CEO of crypto lobbying group DeFi Education Fund, 2024 looks poised to finally bring some much-craved certainty to U.S. crypto regulation—for better or worse.

  • What is DeFi?
    DeFi is an umbrella term for open-source software protocols that run on the internet that allow people to conduct financial activities in a new way. DeFi is about creating universally accessible financial infrastructure that anyone with an internet connection can access and use, and that’s something anyone can get on board with who values things like accessibility, independence, self-custody, or autonomy in their financial lives.
  • What are the benefits of DeFi?
    DeFi is software that can increase economic access for everyone by making the digital economy fairer, more transparent and more equitable. Increased Transparency: DeFi protocols increase operational transparency about the mechanics of market infrastructures and associated fees by using open-source software, which makes transactions more transparent and auditable by using blockchain-based records. Equitable Market Access: DeFi protocols are open and available to anyone in the world with an internet connection, giving them the potential to significantly expand access to financial services.[1] That access empowers more people to use financial services without having to go through intermediaries that may prevent sectors of the market from participation, either through unavailability, absolute prohibitions, excessive pricing, or unfair or discriminatory treatment. 24/7/365 Liquidity: Users can access and use markets at all times of the day without the need for closing markets at the end of each day. Among other things, this eliminates the risk of capital dislocations due to illiquid aftermarket trading in traditional systems. Lower Costs and Faster Settlement: DeFi protocols reduce friction and transaction costs for the creation, distribution, trading, and settlement of financial assets with faster settlement times for users. Improved Security: Transactions using DeFi protocols are recorded on blockchains, the records of which cannot be manipulated or amended, offering greater security to users. Greater Control: The absence of intermediaries in DeFi protocols provides individuals with the ability to custody their own assets, giving them greater control and certainty. Additionally, in some instances, market participants can directly develop community-governance standards. Greater Uptime: Permissionless blockchains are operationally resilient (the Ethereum blockchain has never gone down), whereas traditional market infrastructures have had major technology failures, resulting in downtime for securities markets. Elimination of Broker Risk: DeFi protocols have no employees to supervise, no financial risk for users from broker activity or custody, and no interaction between a broker and customers that could result in unlawful sales practices or other unfair and discriminatory dealing. Elimination of Anti-Competitiveness: Users can easily move their self-custodied cryptocurrencies from one protocol to another at any time without significant friction, unlike the “siloed” experience in traditional financial services.
  • Why does DeFi challenge the traditional approach to financial regulation?
    To a large extent, the existing financial regulatory system applies centralized intermediaries. Before the development of cryptocurrencies and DeFi protocols, digital financial activities required the use of intermediating financial institutions. DeFi protocols allow people to engage in economic activities using software instead of financial institutions, similar to how people can use bitcoin’s software to conduct peer-to-peer payments. But “what they are” — open-source software programs that run on the internet — createst insuperable challenges for a regulatory framework predicted on the necessity of intermediating businesses in financial activities. DeFi developers and market participants share those objectives: to protect consumers, prevent illicit financial activity, and limit systemic risks. The problem is that it’s impossible to accomplish those goals using the old toolbox. “No regulation can be static in a dynamic society.” Our approach to accomplishing long-standing policy objectives has always needed to adapt to technological innovation. DeFi is no different. DeFi is something genuinely unprecedented, and we need to develop a new toolbox that can allow for societies to enjoy the benefits of DeFi while simultaneously equipped to accomplish core policy objectives.
  • What is DeFi not?
    DeFi is a truly decentralized alternative to Centralized Finance (CeFi). CeFi relies on trusted intermediaries to effectuate activities on behalf of customers, custody assets and control permissions or access. By contrast, DeFi runs on permissionless protocols that lack centralized intermediation entirely.
  • How does the DeFi Education Fund handle conflicts of interest?
    For any conflicts of interests that may arise over normal course of business, individual members of the DeFi Education Fund will recuse themself from said activity.
  • Does the DeFi Education Fund have members?
    As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, we do not have any members.
  • How is the DeFi Education Fund funded?
    We were allocated an initial one million UNI back in August 2021. We also engage in fundraising activities to further support our mission.
  • I have questions, who should I contact?
    For general inquiries, please reach out to contact@defieducationfund.org For media-related inquiries, please reach out to max@defieducationfund.org For grant-related inquiries, please reach out to grants@defieducationfund.org
Podcasts

Podcasts

In today's episode, Santi is joined by Rebecca Rettig and Miller Whitehouse to update us on the latest policy concerns impacting crypto. They cover the origins of the DeFi Education Fund and the realities of educating regulators on the novelty of DeFi. They then shift gears and discuss onchain illicit activity that exists, how to find a compromise between permissionless systems and state control, the role stablecoins like USDC play, and reactions to the SEC’s proposed dealer rule that threatens DeFi participation. Rebecca breaks down her recently published paper "Genuine DeFi as Critical Infrastructure" offering a conceptual framework for regulation that leverages DeFi’s transparency while allowing permissionless systems to thrive. Stay tuned for all of this and much more!

Bankless Podcast: The US Government is Trying to Kill Crypto

October 2023

We need to stop the US from killing crypto. The new IRS proposals could effectively destroy DeFi and other crypto use cases. The good news? We can change this. 5 minutes is all it takes to leave a comment and get the interpretation delayed. In this episode, we bring on Miller Whitehouse-Levine of the DeFi Education Fund and tax lawyer Jason Schwartz to discuss the proposed rules and their catastrophic implications.

Amanda Tuminelli of The DeFi Education Fund joins the podcast. In this episode we discuss: Amanda’s background and path to joining The DeFi Education Fund; The IRS “broker” rulemaking process and its potential impact on DeFi; The SEC’s “Exchange” rulemaking process; DEF’s amicus briefs on SEC vs. Coinbase; and Patent trolls in the DeFi ecosystem

Amanda Tuminelli (@amandatums) is chief legal officer for the Defi Education Fund, where she leads the organization’s impact litigation and policy efforts. She was previously an attorney at Kobre & Kim and Dechert LLP, and served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Eastern District of New York.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Government indicted Tornado Cash developers Roman Storm and Roman Semenov for three counts of conspiracy involving a staggeringly large number: $1 billion in criminal proceeds. The U.S. Department of Justice attached North Korean hackers to a large portion of this sum, alleging that Tornado’s privacy tech enabled nefarious deeds. Amanda Tuminelli, chief legal officer of the DeFi Education Fund, joins the show to assess whether the U.S. Government got it right or is merely misguided in its understanding of how blockchain technology works. Should Tornado Cash devs be held to account for the criminal use of their software?

The Pretty Good Policy for Crypto podcast welcomes Miller Whitehouse-Levine and Amanda Tuminelli of the DeFi Education Fund for a discussion of the fund's recent SEC filing and Tuminelli's experience as the fund's new Chief Legal Officer. Host Paul Briggner facilitates a conversation about Tuminelli's previous legal work, as well as her transition to working in the cryptocurrency industry. The episode sheds light on the DeFi Education Fund's goals for impact litigation and policy work, and the potential impact of their recent filing.

The Defiant Weekly Roundup: Is Crypto In The US Doomed? Regulation Expert Weighs In

June 2023

DeFi Education Fund's Amanda Tuminelli joins the show to discuss this week's SEC enforcement actions and what it means for the future of crypto in the U.S.

Joining us today are the best in the biz Chervinsky & Amanda Tuminelli who are here to answer all our questions about the SEC and it's assault on the crypto industry as a whole.

The PGP for Crypto Podcast: Miller Whitehouse-Levine, CEO of DeFi Education Fund

April 2023

Miller Whitehouse-Levine, is the CEO of the DeFi Education Fund. With an extensive background in public policy, Miller has dedicated his career to driving innovation and fostering a regulatory environment that supports the growth of the blockchain and DeFi industries. Before joining the DeFi Education Fund, Miller led the Blockchain Association's policy operation, shaping key policy initiatives in the blockchain space. Prior to that, he worked at Goldstein Policy Solutions, where he contributed to the development of a boutique lobbying firm specializing in financial services, telecommunications, and cybersecurity. Miller holds a B.S. in International Politics and a minor in Mandarin Chinese from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. His unique blend of policy expertise and passion for decentralized finance make him a key figure in the ongoing conversation around DeFi's potential and its regulatory landscape.

Miller Whitenhouse-Levine the CEO of DeFi Education Fund, Marisa T Coppel Policy Counsel at Blockchain Association and Sarah Brennan GC of Delphi Ventures join host Tommy for the definitive episode on crypto regulations.

Sheila Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation, and Miller Whitehouse-Levine, Policy Director of the DeFi Education Fund, offer insider takes on how lawmakers and regulators are viewing crypto after FTX’s catastrophic failure. Both expect heightened activity in the U.S. from what they’re calling the “Crypto Congress.” Will this be the year for stablecoin regulation? Is DeFi still in the crosshairs? What about Ripple’s fight with the SEC? The two crypto policy experts look to the U.S. and beyond for what regulatory battles lie ahead in 2023.

Miller Whitehouse-Levine, Policy Director at DeFi Education Fund (DEF) – a non-profit organisation that explains decentralized finance to policymakers around the world and advocates for policies welcoming of decentralized financial infrastructure – joined us for an interview to walk through the basics of DEF and the important role that Policy work plays within crypto.

On today’s “Breakdown” interview, NLW is joined by Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director at the DeFi Education Fund. They discuss the state of regulatory discourse in Washington, D.C., along with key recent events including Treasury Department sanctions.

Miller Whitehouse-Levine of the Defi Education Fund joins Andrew in the studio today to discuss the latest news and activity of the DEF.

ReFi DeFi: DeFi Education Fund

October 2022

It's clear that US regulators are shining a spotlight on DeFi. It's essential that we have a group that is dedicated to educating policymakers and shaping the future of DeFi. In this episode, we had the honour to speak to Miller Whitehouse-Levine, Policy Director at the DEF.

Miller Whitehouse-Levine (@millercwl) is the Policy Director at the DeFi Education Fund (@fund_defi). With oversight from the DeFi Education Fund’s grants committee, Miller has overall strategic and operational responsibility for the execution of the Education Fund’s mission and goals. Prior to joining the fund, Miller led the Blockchain Association’s policy operation and worked at Goldstein Policy Solutions on a range of public policy issues, including crypto. In this conversation, we cover all aspects of the Tornado Cash saga, how the DeFi Education Fund works, and outline the interplay between the various government and international agencies governing crypto.

BBC: Business Daily

September 2021

Regulators are taking a close look at new crypto-trading environments, known collectively as Decentralised Finance, or DeFi. advocates say the technologies underlying DeFi offer an inclusive and democratic approach to finance, while critics say it is a potential hotbed for money laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal activity. The BBC's Ed Butler dives into the world of DeFi, speaking with Laura Shin, crypto journalist and host of the Unchained podcast, to hear about DeFi, and the kinds of entrepreneurs attracted to it. We also hear from Miller Whitehouse-Levine from the DeFi Education Fund, who argues the potential benefits of DeFi, and digital forensics expert Paul Sibenik of CipherBlade explains what tools are out there for tracking criminal activity across dentralised finance platforms. And veteran crypto investor Jamie Burke of Outlier Ventures explains why he has got so much of his own portfolio in DeFi.

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