New York’s legislative assembly passed Bill No. A07389 on June 2, 2022, “establishing a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations that use proof-of-work authentication methods,” such as those used by Bitcoin, “to validate blockchain transactions” (hereinafter, the “Moratorium”).
In other words, the Moratorium singles out for regulation one of many different types of cryptocurrency protocol consensus algorithms. And it singles out for regulation the users — “miners” or “validators” — of one specific type of algorithm.
The Moratorium, if signed into law by the governor, will violate proof-of-work miners’ rights to free speech under the First Amendment.
This is because proof-of-work miners engage in protected speech by broadcasting blocks of data across a protocol’s network. In fact, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, explained that proof-of-work miners are engaged in “publishing” data for the world to see on an immutable, distributed “timestamp server.” The Moratorium singles out block publishers on proof-of-work protocols for a financial burden not borne by block publishers of protocols using other consensus mechanisms. As this article will show, such content-based differentiation is unsustainable under the U.S. Supreme Court’s First Amendment precedent.