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Coinbase Hits Back at SEC, Files Opening Brief in Appeal Process

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Tue, 12/03/2024 - 7:57
Coinbase Hits Back at SEC, Files Opening Brief in Appeal Process
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Coinbase has launched a formal appeal against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), criticizing the regulator's denial of its rulemaking petition and challenging the SEC's authority over the digital asset space. 

In a series of posts, Paul Grewal, the chief legal officer of Coinbase, outlined the company's frustration with the SEC's "perfunctory denial" and lack of clear rationale.

He has stressed the inconsistency in the SEC's stance on its regulatory authority over digital assets.

The SEC’s changing stance and Coinbase's challenge

For years, the SEC recognized its limited authority in the digital asset domain, prompting calls for Congress to grant it broader regulatory powers. 

However, Coinbase argues that the SEC has abruptly claimed extensive authority and initiated a broad enforcement campaign against the crypto industry, frequently altering its legal interpretations. 

Related

Grewal emphasizes that any assertion of new authority by the SEC should be accompanied by a formal rulemaking process. This is a step the SEC has skipped, leading to what Coinbase sees as a "disjointed regulation by enforcement" approach.

Legal and practical complexities 

Coinbase’s appeal shows the practical difficulties of applying traditional securities regulations to digital assets, which inherently settle without physical delivery of securities certificates. 

The brief argues that treating all entities involved in digital asset transactions as "clearing agencies" under these conditions is unfeasible, especially for decentralized blockchain components that operate autonomously. 

Coinbase contends that this lack of clear regulatory framework not only hinders the workability of existing laws for digital assets but also fails to provide necessary guidance for the industry. This undermines the legal and operational foundations of the digital asset market.

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