In the Media

Op-Eds

 

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

 
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“There are dozens of pictures of [Bankman-Fried] with policymakers and regulators,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of crypto lobbying group DeFi Education Fund told Decrypt. “And I'm sure that, for many policymakers, he was the one crypto CEO they had met and spent time with. Obviously, it's not a good look when that one person ends up being, you know, a pretty big disaster.”

Miller Whitehouse Levine, policy director at DeFi education Fund, a nonpartisan advocacy organization, argued in an interview that the FTX episode illustrates the benefits of DeFi, namely that those interacting with these protocols “don’t have to guess what’s on their balance sheets, because it’s all reported on chain and updated in real time.”

“I see it as a complete vindication of DeFi protocols and their transparency,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, the policy director at the DeFi Education Fund, a D.C.-based research and advocacy group.

“I think it's going to gonna take a long time for the dust to settle with this situation, for people to find out exactly what happened and what is happening. And I think that no matter what happens, it'll certainly be an unfortunate situation from which a lot of people can learn a lot. And I think that from that perspective, it might delay the bill,” said DeFi Education Fund Policy Director Miller Whitehouse-Levine, referring to the DCCPA.

“These are questions of fairness and liability that are generally handled via state law,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director at DeFi Education Fund.

Notably, the Ooki DAO has not made an appearance in the CFTC’s case. But three amici have submitted briefs protesting the CFTC’s alternative means of service: the DeFi Education Fund, an advocacy group promoting decentralized financial products; LeXpunK, a group of cryptolawyers and software developers that offers open-source legal resources for DAOs; and Paradigm Operations LP, an investment firm that backs crypto companies.

"First Mover" is live from CoinDesk's Investing in Digital Enterprises and Assets Summit (I.D.E.A.S.) in New York City, diving into key investment ideas across Web3 and the digital economy at large. Host Christine Lee and DeFi Education Fund's Miller Whitehouse-Levine speak with Umee CEO Brent Xu with his crypto markets analysis, and Gennaro D'Urso, a scientist using a DAO to improve drug discovery.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick, of the Northern District of California, ordered that LeXpunK Army, a group of lawyers and software developers, and the DeFi Education Fund (DEF), a lobbyist group, could file Amicus Briefs, or friends of the court briefs. The two groups asked to join the case to argue that the CFTC should identify and directly serve members of Ooki DAO in a lawsuit alleging they violated federal law, rather than serve the DAO itself through a website chat bot.

While the briefs don’t answer the question of how the government should serve a DAO, the policy director for one of the outside groups, Miller Whitehouse-Levine of the DeFi Education Fund — a 501(c)(4) advocacy group that is itself funded by the Uniswap DAO — pointed me to an intriguing state court precedent.

DeFi Education Fund filed a motion Tuesday for leave to file an amicus brief, the day after advocacy group LeXpunK filed a similar motion in the case. The court approved the CFTC's motion for alternative service on defendant Ooki DAO on Monday, but DeFi Education Fund argued the court should reconsider that order.

The DeFi Education Fund (DEF), a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group focused on decentralized finance (DeFi) issues, has joined a group of crypto lawyers in arguing that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should not be allowed to serve the defendants of a lawsuit merely by posting on a website.

DeFi Education Fund policy director Miller Whitehouse-Levine tells Decrypt's Dan Roberts and Stacy Elliott in our Decrypting Mainnet series at Mainnet 2022 about how DeFi in some ways "came too early for the crypto ecosystem" and that some lawmakers see it as "hocus pocus, but there's still reason for optimism. He also sees Bitcoin as "a DeFi protocol for payments."

In an emailed statement to Decrypt, the DeFi Education Fund called the lawsuit against Ooki DAO an “unprecedented action [that] seeks to create novel policy in response to novel issues, all via an enforcement action.”

The issue has sparked a feud among crypto insiders. “Decentralization is a spectrum, and where the line is drawn between centralized and decentralized is a policy choice that Congress will eventually have to make,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine of the DeFi Education Fund lobbying association.

Our Friday Q and A featured a guy who has what must be one of the toughest jobs in Washington: explaining decentralized finance to lawmakers. And, a newsy week in financial regulation. Both the SEC and CFTC chiefs appeared at Senate hearings, though one (guess who?) had a bit of a rougher ride. We also covered two wonky but important meetings — one where the SEC put out a plan designed to make the $24 trillion Treasury market safer, and the other an industry roundtable to discuss what promises to be a complex and difficult government overhaul of market structure rules prompted by the meme stock investing craze. We also had a little fun, digging into a longtime bank lobbyist’s missing Bitcoin. You may remember him from last week.

Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director at the DeFi Education Fund, called the White House’s announcement a “let down given the hope that I shared with many others that the administration was ready to create a healthy environment for US [crypto] industry and users.”

The DeFi Education Fund, a policy nonprofit that advocates for decentralized finance, published the responses it said it received from the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) on Twitter on Tuesday morning..."We first reached out to FIOD on Friday and have made all the information we have received from them public," Max Bernstein, the DeFi Education Fund's communications lead, told Decrypt in an email. "They also did not decline to answer any questions directly."

The DeFi Education Fund, a policy nonprofit that advocates for decentralized finance, published the responses it said it received from the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) on Twitter on Tuesday morning..."We first reached out to FIOD on Friday and have made all the information we have received from them public," Max Bernstein, the DeFi Education Fund's communications lead, told Decrypt in an email. "They also did not decline to answer any questions directly."

Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of the DeFi Education Fund, said he intends to ask the Treasury Department to issue some frequently asked questions that address these issues, as well as create a general license that would allow innocent parties who have used Tornado Cash to withdraw their funds...“People want to be safe rather than sorry, and it's incumbent on Treasury to explain what people need to do to make sure they’re safe,” he said...“AML/CFT obligations are risk-based,” he added, referring to anti-money laundering and combating the finance of terrorism.

“It’s a new development in crypto and will have deep implications down the line,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director at research and advocacy group DeFi Education Fund, said. “The industry’s impression is that the U.S. government is pivoting from focusing on punishing bad actors to policing the protocols now.”

The New York Times' Dealbook: Crypto’s latest crisis

August 2022

The moves could threaten the future of crypto. The U.S. sanctions apply to Tornado’s smart contracts, which execute automatically when certain conditions are met. It’s the first time that the U.S. government has applied regulation directly to a software protocol, according to Miller Whitehouse-Levine, the policy director of a crypto lobbying group, the DeFi Education Fund. “What everyone’s afraid of,” he told DealBook, is that the authorities could start regulating autonomous protocols more widely. Tornado Cash developers and supporters say no one controls its code, and that’s by design.

“While most people won’t ever use a service like Tornado Cash, the government’s approach represents a dangerous precedent for limiting the right of Americans to use privacy tools for legitimate and lawful reasons,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of The DeFi Education Fund, wrote in an email to TIME. “Privacy is not—and cannot become—a crime.” “People seek privacy in transactions for a number of legitimate reasons, like to donate money to causes they believe in or to pay for sensitive medical treatments,” Whitehouse-Levine said via email. While conceding the tool can be used for illicit activities, Whitehouse-Levine said the Treasury sanctions put the entire debate in “uncharted waters,” as the move effectively banned an open-source software protocol.

Tornado Cash is an immutable smart contract that mixes a pool of various cryptocurrencies from many different senders as a way to protect the privacy of on-chain transactions, said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of the DeFi Education Fund. “People seek privacy in transactions for a number of legitimate reasons, like to donate money to causes they believe in or to pay for sensitive medical treatments,” Whitehouse-Levine said via email. While conceding the tool can be used for illicit activities, Whitehouse-Levine said the Treasury sanctions put the entire debate in “uncharted waters,” as the move effectively banned an open-source software protocol.

Ivey has also drawn attention from crypto policy advocates in Washington. DeFi Education Fund Policy Director Miller Whitehouse-Levine lauded Ivey as “open-minded” on decentralized finance issues. The organization aims to educate policymakers and counts Uniswap among its funders…“The U.S. would be well-served with leaders like Glenn Ivey who take an open-minded approach to digital assets and are eager to act so that the U.S. remains a leader in this emerging space,” Whitehouse-Levine told The Block in a statement. “We're also encouraged by the increasing number of candidates who are willing to work with DeFi leaders to build a responsive regulatory regime."

“There will be a chilling effect,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of the think tank DeFi Education Fund, noting that Celsius’s woes — as well of those of Voyager Digital, another crypto lender — has already spurred traders to pull their crypto from accounts on centralized platforms and into self-hosted wallets.

“No one is operating under any illusions given the SEC’s approach to crypto to date,’’ says Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director for the DeFi Education Fund. He stressed that he would “love” to debate the merits of regulating communication protocol systems, “if I knew what they were.’’

Whitehouse-Levine is attempting to reshape the debate around decentralized finance—the idea that transactions don’t need to rely on a central system—by deploying a team to meet with every congressional office by April.

“Longstanding critics will naturally use this crisis narrative to effect the policies that they seek,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of the think tank DeFi Education Fund.

“Digital assets are uniquely ill-suited for sanctions evasion because of all the ways that digital assets can enhance sanctions compliance when compared to traditional financial markets,” wrote DeFi Education Fund policy director Miller Whitehouse-Levine in a recent Decrypt op-ed.

Crypto advocates are already arguing that regulators would be violating the US constitution if they try. “The writing and publishing of software is free speech under the first amendment,” says Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director at the DeFi Education Fund, an industry advocacy group. “How do you ex ante ask folks to change their speech essentially to comply with what the government thinks they should be doing?”

The New York Times Dealbook: What Cuomo’s Resignation Means for Business

August 2021

The fight over the tax provision in the infrastructure bill was an “amuse-bouche,” said Miller Whitehouse-Levine, the policy director of the DeFi Education Fund, a new nonprofit initiative dedicated to this sector. Crypto supporters realize that they will have to “educate” officials in Washington and beyond, Whitehouse-Levine said.

 

Podcasts

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.