US Senator Warren introduces bill to study crypto’s role in ransomware

As cryptocurrency adoption continues apace in the United States,  lawmakers want to better understand how it’s used — for both legal and illegal purposes.

The Ransom Disclosure Act, introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Deborah Ross, would require victims of ransomware attacks to disclose information about ransom payments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The bill, introduced Oct. 5, aims to gather critical data on fiat and cryptocurrency payments and protect investors from cybercrimes.

In an ongoing effort to curb illicit financial activities in the U.S., Sen. Warren’s legislation aims to develop “a fuller picture” of ransomware attacks:

“My bill with Congresswoman Ross would set disclosure requirements when ransoms are paid and allow us to learn how much money cybercriminals are siphoning from American entities to finance criminal enterprises — and help us go after them.”

The bill will also support a study to find links between cryptocurrencies and their role in ransomware attacks, led by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The gathered information will be used to provide recommendations for improving the nation’s cybersecurity.

As Congresswoman Ross pointed out, U.S. investors are not yet required to report ransomware payments, which according to her, is key to countering ransomware attacks. The new legislation “will implement important reporting requirements, including the amount of ransom demanded and paid, and the type of currency used,” she said.

The bill would require ransomware victims in the U.S. to disclose ransoms within 48 hours of payment through a website to be set up by the DHS.

Related: Small business advocacy group recommends US congress ‘clarify the status of digital assets’

While federal authorities continue to introduce bills to regulate the crypto market, a report shared by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urges Congress to “clarify the status of digital assets to make clear when it is a security.”

Moreover, a recent bill from Oct. 4, the Clarity for Digital Tokens Act of 2021,” requests the SEC for a safe harbor for certain token projects. Proposed by Representative Patrick McHenry, the bill suggests an amendment to the Securities Act of 1933 that would allow projects to offer cryptocurrency tokens without registering with authorities for up to three years.