There has, apparently, been significant shock and surprise over recent reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a large number of subpoenas to initial coin offering (ICO) issuers and to ICO gatekeepers who may have been involved in token transactions that potentially did not comply with the federal securities laws.
To a large extent, this shock and surprise is shocking and surprising.
The SEC has been as clear as it knows how to be that virtually all tokens (and simple agreements for future tokens, or SAFTs) are securities for purposes of the federal securities laws.
It is true that the SEC's initial forays into the crypto space were comparatively gentle. Instead of bringing an enforcement action in the DAO case, the SEC instead opted to issue a report. The SEC also simply told Munchee Inc. to stop its unregistered token offering, and did not bring any further actions against it.