Law Decoded: Crypto on the rise, Big Tech on notice, Dec. 11–18

Every Friday, Law Decoded delivers analysis on the week’s critical stories in the realms of policy, regulation and law. Law Decoded will be going on a break next week for the holidays but will return in the new year. 

Editor’s note

As the holidays loom, Bitcoin has been shattering all-time highs. For reasons why, consult Cointelegraph’s markets coverage. I honestly never know. Maybe with the act of Christmas shopping taking place behind the computer, people have turned to Coinbase instead of Amazon. Or maybe the threat of the Treasury demanding reports from exchanges interacting with self-hosted wallets has people trying to move as much fiat into crypto and then off of exchanges as possible.

In broader legal news, we may well be entering a new era of trust-busting in tech. Major names like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google have been on thin ice for a long time, but new laws on competition in the EU and new antitrust suits and investigations in the U.S. this past week are the culmination of long-term concerns from lawmakers and regulators.

The relationship between government attitude towards those colossal tech firms and crypto is, as always, an open question. It has always struck me that, particularly on issues of consumer data use and monopolistic practices, the great majority of the crypto industry benefits from lawmakers scrutinizing the huge platforms. Open-source software distributed across nodes avoids such problems using tools that are technological rather than legal.