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US crypto agency names first director

Eun Young Choi will lead the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) in identifying, investigating, supporting, and pursuing the Justice Department's cases involving the illegal use of digital assets.

She will focus on virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, infrastructure providers, and other entities that are enabling the misuse of cryptocurrency and related technologies to commit or facilitate criminal activity.

"The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department, in turn, accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds," Eun Young Choi said.

According to Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, the NCET will serve as the focal point for the department's efforts to tackle the growth of crime involving these technologies.

"With the rapid innovation of digital assets and distributed ledger technologies, we have seen a rise in their illicit use by criminals who exploit them to fuel cyberattacks and ransomware and extortion schemes; traffic in narcotics, hacking tools and illicit contraband online; commit thefts and scams, and launder the proceeds of their crimes."

Rogue nations, authoritarian states, and criminals are aggressively exploiting cryptocurrencies due to their convenient nature - the transactions are instant, borderless, and the currency itself is liquid. Malign actors leverage cryptocurrency for ransomware, money laundering, cryptojacking, human trafficking, domestic extremism, child exploitation, frauds and scams, terrorism, narcotics, and many more illicit activities.

The US government appears to be making strides towards regulating the technology, with nearly three dozen bills addressing blockchain and cryptocurrency proposed in the past year alone.

However, a congressman has admitted that nine in ten of his colleagues probably do not even understand how cryptocurrency works.

"A lot of people are just mystified by it," said Don Beyer, congressman for Virginia. "They may be able to spell 'crypto,' but that's about it. I don't want to exaggerate, but maybe 90% of congress members are in that position."

I don't hold myself to be some expert [...] it's difficult stuff," he added. "There are probably only five or six people in Congress who could give you an accurate explanation of how blockchain works."

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