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SEC chair Gary Gensler and LBRY co-founder Jeremy Kauffman. Art by Clark Miller
SEC chair Gary Gensler and LBRY co-founder Jeremy Kauffman. Art by Clark Miller

The SEC v. LBRY: How a New Hampshire Court Battle Could Rewrite the Rules of Crypto

The libertarian co-founder of a small blockchain platform goes up against Gary Gensler’s SEC in a small court case with enormous implications.

SEC chair Gary Gensler and LBRY co-founder Jeremy Kauffman. Art by Clark Miller
Aug. 26, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Less than two hours before we spoke on the phone last week, Jeremy Kauffman tweeted that if voters elected him as New Hampshire’s next U.S. senator, his goal would be “for America to never launch another drone strike in the Middle East.” It was a sentiment shared by many self-identified libertarians, who have long opposed U.S. military incursions abroad. But then came the next line of Kauffman’s post: “Failing that, my fallback goal is to have Liz Cheney strapped to the next bomb.”

A 37-year-old computer scientist, blockchain CEO and dark-horse Senate candidate from Manchester, N.H., Kauffman considers himself a “dissident,” one who’s living under a government regime of “soft totalitarianism.” But he also likes to keep things light: “I play a little bit, at times, this character of a bombastic, over-the-top libertarian. But that’s what social media is. This is the game that we're playing.”

But the primary focus of our call was not Kauffman’s controversial tweets, or his long-shot campaign to oust Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., from Congress this November, or even his red-pilled campaign site. It was his ongoing fight against the Securities and Exchange Commission, which sued Kauffman’s blockchain startup LBRY in March 2021, nearly three years after the agency began investigating the company for securities violations. The case is being closely watched by crypto executives and investors, as well as by regulators in Washington, D.C., as a potential watershed moment in the industry’s history. When a judgment is issued sometime in the coming weeks, it could mark a significant step forward for crypto—or a dramatic leap backward, depending on where you stand.

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