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Thomas Wynne: Crypto Bill- A deep dive into murky waters?

Saturday 20 April 2024 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Thomas Wynne: Crypto Bill- A  deep dive into  murky waters?

It is reasonable that today so many Cook Islanders are asking questions around the process that got the Tainted Cryptocurrency Recovery Bill into Parliament and currently before a Select Committee, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

We could wonder as how an American company gained access to our Cabinet room, but some of that has been answered in letters to the editor and articles these past few days from journalists, local lawyers, and members of our financial services.

We could ask who met with government officials and who brought Drumcliffe CEO Jim Little from the United States to Rarotonga, though this has also been answered. We also know how the legislation was drafted and who drafted it, with two local lawyers declaring their work on the draft with Drumcliffe Partners from the United States. One lawyer publicly defended the Bill’s benefits; however, one would also think, payment of services to the same company creates a conflict of interest and personal bias on the legislations merit.

We could also question as to how did this legislation bypass the Crown Law Office and make it to Parliament, when Crown Law’s deputy solicitor general David Greig publicly slammed the bill, calling it “flawed”, adding that some provisions are “clearly unconstitutional”. Despite the Prime Minister’s Office saying “they are confident that whatever law we end up with will be in keeping with our constitution and laws, and will be aligned with other international agencies and countries fighting cybercrime”.

The global fight against cybercrime is one none of us would argue needs to be had, with too many of our own people falling victim to cybercriminals gaining access to their bank accounts and personal information. However, if we are to step deep into the policing of cybercrime as this Bill intends, then shouldn’t more agencies be made privy to it and have some sense of confidence that the process leading to that decision has been open, transparent, and met with sound advice; drawing on as many differing areas of counsel and careful consideration.

Opening up our sovereign country to the cyber world as a global sheriff to the cybercrime committed by foreign actors and states out there, engaging with foreign powers to partner with us and utilising any form of legislated hacking is a venture into a deep and murky water, a moana of potential opportunity yes, but also one with potentially treacherous consequences for our Ipukarea. And why the balance between opportunity and risk needs careful consideration and the now final process to becoming law, long, thoughtful, considered and on multiple levels.

Like you, we are driven by a deep desire to see our country and people thrive and flourish. I so love my country, and it is that deep sense of connection and aroa that compels me to write and think carefully about this decision and its process. I too have talked with others and some involved with the process, read the legislation and tried to understand it better.

However, the perceived lack of transparency in the process is overshadowing the potential benefits of the Bill. And even if like so many of us we are thousands of miles away, we are not thousands of miles away from the consequences to our families, our parents, our communities and the potential danger poor process and poor counsel can bring – in that respect we are all in this Vaka together. I do sincerely pray for a pause and for wisdom, as this Bill makes its way through the Select Committee process and back to Parliament.