The most potent tool governments can use to punish individuals is financial censorship. It involves cutting off access the the global bank system.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice utilized it through Operation Choke Point. It targeted firearm dealers, payday lenders and sexworkers. Pressuring banks to end their financial service access.
Bank accounts cannot be opened by marijuana companies that have been legalized under the state laws.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury finances censors all other countries that are guilty of human rights violations or attack others in a senseless manner, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Justin Trudeau the Canadian Prime Minister financially blocked Canadian truckers from occupying Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Although it’s obvious that government can exercise financial censorship in order to seize worthy targets for now, it’s not clear whether they can do so for longer. For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, this moment is a time to ask a critical question: Can bitcoin help?
Can a global decentralized monetary network that no one can control or manipulate take away the authority of the government to use financial censorship for good and evil?
An unusually successful crowdfunding campaign using bitcoin called Honk Honk, which raised over $1 million for Canadian truckers, provided additional insight. It appears that the answer to this question is “eventually, possibly, but more work needs to be done.”
Nick goes by @NobodyCaribouOn Twitter, I began talking to Canadian truckers early February. In this way, I taught them bitcoin and raised small amounts. Finally, I partnered up with a probitcoin YouTuber in order to launch Honk Honk HODL via the bitcoin-based crowdfunding website Tallycoin.
“MYou had an idea: If we have a thousand, or 2,000 dollars, then I can give one hundred to different truckers. That would be incredible. This would make a great experiment. It would be a great experiment, so why not?” Caribou.
Then crypto investors Jeff Booth and Greg Foss jumped in to lend their names and credibility—as did the popular Canadian YouTuber and streamer Ben Perrin, who goes by “BTC Sessions.”
Perrin states that “things just started snowballing much faster than I expected.” My initial thoughts were, “Oh, maybe, we’ll be able to get a few thousands dollars and some people will have the ability to buy gas cards and food.”
After GoFundMe pressured them into cancelling a previously accumulated fundraiser, the fundraiser went off. Canadian truckers receive $10 millionThen, a judge BlockedThe distribution of $9 Million from another crowdfunding platform. When the Canadian government made it clear that truckers would not be able to access their bank accounts, many supporters began to look to cryptocurrency.
Honk Honk HODL raised over $1 million in bitcoin donations.
Caribou explains, “So I would go through phases of becoming really excited, and it was showing that bitcoin solves the major problem. “And then I would go into fear mode, and I’d be like, ‘If I fuck this up, it’s going to look bad on bitcoin as an entirety’…that was a lot of pressure.”
Canadian officials were increasing pressure and invoked the Emergencies Act. This is reserved for situations that require immediate attention. “seriously compromises Canada’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity”
The $1 million was at stake and the public officials concerned worried about being targets of theft or other legal actions if the money went to someone else. The pressure was intensified by the fact that there wasn’t a clear strategy for how the bitcoin would be distributed. Donors began complaining on social media.
“I complained on Twitter that they didn’t have bitcoin., Then, that is a problem”, says aUser on Twitter with handle @JWWeatherman_He refused to reveal his true name. He even threatenedYou can sue the company if the funds aren’t distributed immediately to the truckers.
Weatherman says, “If you are robbed you should make it less lucrative for those around you to prevent future robbery.”
It was stored in what is known as a multisignature bitcoin wallet. Five people had the passwords or private keys. Three of these individuals needed to be in agreement before any money could be released.
Importantly, they didn’t have to store the Bitcoin that was raised. Bitcoin can solve the financial censorship problem only if individuals have the keys to their coins. Companies in control of bitcoin exchanges have custody just as any other bank. The government has the power to force exchanges into freezing bitcoin accounts. This is precisely what Canada did.
The pressure on the three most vocal promoters for Honk Honk HOLDL forced them to quit. Caribou was largely in control of the money.
“YouThink [Caribou] has just been an incredible human being through all of this…an incredible resource to the people that were there experiencing it,” says Perrin. He said, “I wasn’t as detailed as him in understanding what was happening on the ground.” So I am glad that he decided where these funds would go.“
Caribou accepted donations after he had raised more than $1 million in bitcoin. He then turned to J.W. Weatherman—the bitcoin tweeter who had threatened to sue him—for help.
The same reason most people don’t like it. [Weatherman]Caribou says that it is for this reason, too. His standards are the most high. He will hold my actions most responsible and will criticize them most.
Weatherman became disturbed when he discovered that Caribou was left alone with the bag.
“WWeatherman states that Weatherman was the only one who reached out to Weatherman. He had full control over the bitcoin and knew exactly what to do.“
Weatherman crowdsourced ideas via a public Google doc, and a volunteer programmer jumped in to write a script allowing them to quickly divide 14.6 BTC—worth approximately $630,000 dollars at the time—The truckers can transfer bitcoin to up to 100 different wallets.
They decided to go analog for their last mile. Caribou printed the code needed to get the Bitcoin wallets onto sheets of paper, and then tucked the envelopes inside. He then walked from cab to taxi with a cameraman and passed them along to truckers. Livestreamer One even captured one transaction in the middle his stream from a trucker’s cab.
“The truth was that the more we waited, the worse it became.” [to distribute the money]”The more these funds were at risk of being stolen, either by the government or by those who knew that we had those funds,” Caribou says.
Do you think that Bitcoin is censorship-proof by walking around the streets, handing out addresses and giving away envelopes? But it’s not. Satoshi Nagmoto invented bitcoin as an “peer-to peer electronic cash system” because when the last mile touches the physical world, there is a potential for state interference.
Caribou might not have been able to wait for the court to order him stop disseminating bitcoin that was raised during the fundraiser. This was part of an Ottawa class-action lawsuit that targeted anyone associated with funding the truckers.
One-third of all funds raised was in a wallet that was partially managed by trucker-affiliated non-profit members. Some of these people were also arrested during protests for “counseling others to commit the offenses of mischief.” Caribou also owned the necessary codes to access these funds. The police arrived at his house and seized the keys and took full control of bitcoin. He is raising money for his own legal defense, and he says he wants to transfer the funds to truckers once the lawsuit has been resolved.
“IWe’ll look backwards, but we can think forward. [the trucker convoy]Caribou considers it a very pivotal time in history.
Weatherman and Caribou made the decision to publicize the allocation of funds. This was criticized. The video also shows Caribou interfacing with truckers. we know that more than half of the 100 wallets, each containing 0.146 BTC—or about $6,300 USD—have been accessed so far.We don’t know how to tell. Bitcoin might be impossible to control, but it is also extremely transparent. Each transaction is made publically on the blockchain. This distributed database underpins bitcoin. There are reasonsA third party confirmed the fact that one trucker had accessed bitcoin by following the instructions.
Although the identities of truckers don’t exist in blockchain, law enforcement is remarkably adept at linking bitcoin addresses with their users. This is how many individuals who purchased drugs from the Silk Road, a bitcoin-fueled online marketplace, ended up getting prosecuted.
“If you [distributed the money using]Privacy [tools]There would be an overpowering cloud that hovered above my head, saying “That’s the man who stole bitcoin.” According to Caribou, the only way for donors to verify that bitcoin went to truckers was by videotaping the bitcoin being sent to truckers.
Pirren said that he wouldn’t do it again, after his government’s reluctance to allow him to. He would instead use some privacy-preserving features that bitcoin has offered since 2013. For example, a BTCPay server that allows each donation to be sent to its own address. The wallet can then combine the donations with bitcoin immediately. The money would not have been traceable using this method.
“There are currently funds in legal limbo. Perrin says that part of this is due to the fact they weren’t released quickly enough.
Caribou says that fundraisers in the future should develop a better plan to distribute funds and find ways to decentralize it.
“Develop a strategy. Then spend the funds. Caribou suggests that funds should be kept in a central place. It’s important to decentralize your money so that no one individual has a large amount of money.
They all considered the fundraising a success despite the challenges they faced and the threat of a lawsuit. However, it highlighted the importance for better strategic planning and easy-to use privacy measures to ensure bitcoin is censorship-resistant.
It is possible that not all the people who were sent bitcoin envelopes to their trucks have actually transferred it into their personal wallets. If the people who received the bitcoin tried to send them onto an exchange in order to make a trade for Canadian dollars, they could be flagged and the government can seize it. In a world that bitcoin has not yet been universally accepted, it is difficult to spend the money.
Weatherman says that he believes bitcoin is a censorship-resistant form of money. It worked as well or better than cash, gold bars or any other currency. Because it is technology, it can be distributed as gift cards and cash.
Perrin mentions that bitcoin is currently the only available fundraised currency after the government stopped funding crowdfunding and bank accounts. GoFundMe reimbursed donors following backlash against their decision to divert funds from GiveSendGo and other charities. announcedThe Canadian government will have to return the funds after it was “criminalized receiving of money” on March 10.
Perrin says, “If the government could shut down or seize assets from the protest you don’t like, then that opposing government might shut down assets of protest you like.” In the end bitcoin is totally apolitical. Bitcoin is a worldwide, censorship-resistant network that provides value.
Caribou said that he hopes the rest of the globe will learn from the Canadian experience.
“The legacy financial system is fraught with risks. It’s possible for people to steal your identity and money illegally. He said that money is the only way to go if it’s not used.We gave the world an example of what it means to be peaceful and loving and it made a big difference.
Zach Weissmueller. Graphics by Nodehaus
Photos: Normand Blouin/Polaris/Newscom; CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom; Lin Wei / Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; Arindam Shivaani/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Richard B. Levine/Newscom; Marco Verch; Nazareth College