Ron DeSantis, the outgoing governor of Florida, recently launched a two-pronged attack against Big Brother’s Digital Dollar, by proposing legislation that would ban the use of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in Florida. Taking a stance against the possibility of U.S. citizens being subjected to privacy breaches and the dubious potential of expanded surveillance and control, the proposal signals a major shift in governmental attitudes towards digital money.
The proposed ban comes as the federal government increases their research of issuing a U.S. CBDC, launching a new exec order last year to account for the potential switch to digital currency. This news has been met with criticism from both sides of the aisle, though seeing that the majority of Republican support has largely coalesced around DeSantis, it appears the tide is turning against the hypothetical digital dollar.
In his statement, DeSantis potentiated against the potential of government officials having a direct line into citizens’ spending habits and activities, which could be boosted by a successful CBDC release. In his words, “any way they can get into society to exercise their agenda, they will do it. So, what the central bank digital currency is all about is surveilling Americans and controlling behavior of Americans.” In addition, DeSantis argued that a digital currency would harm US-based small and medium banks, which would come under pressure as each state attempted to compete for commercial transactions via CBDCs.
Though there are a fair few arguments for the introduction of a digital currency, namely to increase the potential of financial inclusion and to account for the global trend of decentralization, measured opinions appear to be leaning towards the camp of observation and regulation rather than official launch.
Advocates of the U.S. digital dollar, such as the Treasury Department, have compared the potential financial and technological benefits of the currency with those provided by the Chinese central bank’s digital yuan. While this argument could have influenced accelerated research and stances, the initiative could prove to be nothing more than a point of comparison or a straw man.
Republican Congressman Tom Emmer has weighed in on the issue, with his most recent piece of legislation attempting to limit the Fed from direct issuance to citizens, stating publicly his concerns about the erosion of financial privacy should a CBDC go ahead. Joining Emmer in his concerns for citizens’ privacy, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has suggested nefarious forces may be more likely to pull the trigger on a digital dollar following the recent consolidation of Silicon Valley Bank.
The pressure for and against the digital dollar in the US has been building for some time, with legislation from DeSantis being the most recent move from a substantial political figurehead. The idea of a digital yuan being introduced to the US economy has been steadily gaining traction, and the proposal has been seen by some as a major step in pre-empting a potential switch to digitalized money.
Whether the proposal will become law in Florida remains to be seen, along with just how much it will affect the progress of the digital dollar and other potential CBDCs. Still, for the moment, the suggestion to limit Big Brother’s digital dollar in the US has come from the first Republican Presidential candidate to jump into the race since Donald Trump’s official registration, in a clear signal to the people and their privacy.