Every Friday, Law Decoded delivers analysis on the week’s critical stories in the realms of policy, regulation and law.

Editor’s note

The U.S. is preparing for its Independence Day tomorrow. New spikes in positive COVID-19 tests will put a damper on some but not all of the traditional fireworks, cookouts and Martina McBride. On the same day, new changes to the Russian Constitution, including those that may allow Putin to stay in power for another 16 years, take effect. In more light-hearted news, pubs will also reopen in the U.K.

The COVID-19 lockdowns have added new immediacy to the eternal tug-of-war between personal freedoms and common welfare. This week has also seen a rise in legal decisions around the world surrounding encryption and privacy, as well as the government’s relationship to cryptocurrencies as property or zones of privacy. 

Part of the classic appeal of crypto is a means of opting out of traditional government authority. Ownership over Bitcoin is as simple as “not your keys, not your coins”; monetary policy is determined by algorithms that feel no obligation to inject stimulus payments. And yet, how governments choose to treat Bitcoin matters and will continue to matter. Cryptographic independence can only go so far.

Kollen Post, Policy Editor