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Blockchain technology could drive the most significant change in society since the American Revolution, U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer says. But only if regulators resist the temptation to be heavy-handed.

“Now, it’s been two-hundred and thirty some years. We’ve kind of gone through this evolution,” Emmer told CoinDesk at the D.C. Blockchain Summit this week. “We’ve been centralizing, consolidating authority for years. This technology…it could maybe restore what it was the founders were looking for, what they tried to create.”

But the transformative potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies will never be fulfilled if regulators overreach, he said.

“We have to be vigilant and we have to remember that you create room for innovation when you don’t stifle it,” Emmer said. “And too much regulation, too many regulators has a tendency to put a wet blanket on it.”

And that’s where Emmer says he and his colleagues on the Congressional Blockchain Caucus come in. He told CoinDesk:

“It’s up to members of Congress with election certificates to push back where it’s appropriate to push back.”

Japan as a model

Emmer said the U.S. would do well to mirror Japan, where only one regulatory body, the Financial Services Agency, has jurisdiction over cryptocurrencies.

More clarity and certainty would help the blockchain space to flourish, but “the way you do that is you don’t have a dozen or so agencies that are all trying to grab for a piece of the jurisdiction and responsibility.” 

Rather, the best situation would be “one agency, you know where you’re going, you know who’s in charge, you know what the issue is, what you have to respond to.”

Yet government regulation is not the only way to achieve clarity and certainty about the rules of the road, Emmer claimed.

“I think the industry can actually supply a lot of this, and then it’s going to be up to legislators to be vigilant about recognizing we want the industry to do as much as it possibly can,” he said, adding:

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