Protesters have erupted in different parts the world, taking to the streets to take a stand against diverse issues ranging from aggressive political issues to economic troubles and police brutality. Different protests from Hong Kong, to the United States to Nigeria, to Thailand, to Belarus and beyond, there seems to be a wave of protests.
Their protesters fight are diverse: fighting against established political classes, opposing police brutality or calling for reexaminations of elections with possibly fraudulent vote counts.
Yet their concerns are common: they are aligned against powerful and entrenched politicians who largely control trust within their borders. From use of force against protesters to regulations that control domestic banking systems to the control of state-affiliated media, political incumbents have a lot of power to wield to advance their interests. In order to create meaningful dissent, you have to work around that power.
Cryptocurrency offers one way to doing so. From the payment processor side, you can set up your own payment service using open-source software such as BTCPay. With decentralization, you don’t rely on any third-party organization to vet or potentially censor your payments, and there are no processing fees: a stark contrast from the conventional banking system in nation-states that are largely dependent on the corpus between political and legal power to maintain their good financial standing.
An example of this is the Feminist Coalition, an organization of Nigerian activists, moving to accept donations in bitcoin as part of the #EndSARS movement dedicated to fighting police brutality in Nigeria. The Feminist Coalition has reported that its bank account has been shut down, along with a donation link provided by centralized payment processor Flutterwave. Flutterwave’s chairman is Tunde Lemo, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The move to bitcoin not only helps the Feminist Coalition to be resilient to censorship for payment processors who are entrenched in traditional power structures, it also helps donors decide the level of privacy they need to make donations to a cause that might be frowned upon in official circles.
People can choose to use Wasabi wallet and the combination of tools they bring to the fore (broadcasting via the Tor network, using CoinJoin to more deeply anonymize transactions) to express a strong desire for privacy. They can use a bitcoin address they don’t use very often and which can’t be strongly tied to their identity to send cryptocurrency donations. Or they can choose to express a very loose expression of privacy by sending from a more centralized exchange with stricter identity rules such as Coinbase.
The essential point is that people can send cryptocurrency when centralized exchanges censor payment processing and there’s no other ways to transact, and they can choose how strongly they want to link their personal identity to financial transactions in the face of political repression and political power.
This same dynamic is what happened with Hong Kong Free Press, an English-level media organization that has pro-democracy support and perspectives within Hong Kong which is also using BTCpay to accept bitcoin and donations.
Given the new national security law, it’s possible that payment processors might shut off Hong Kong Free Press and their access to the financial resources required to operate — and it’s possible that they might go after with their donors, especially ones with weaker privacy protections.
In Thailand, where pro-democracy protestors have emerged, protesters have put up signs asking for others to buy bitcoin. In Belarus, government employees fired for supporting the political opposition have been supported with grants partially financed through cryptocurrencies by the BYSOL organization, an organization founded by civic society and technologists that “support[s] anyone who was repressed, prosecuted, or lost their jobs because of participating in strikes or peaceful protests in Belarus.”
Those facing political prosecution fill out a form that took one just ten minutes to figure out, and then they’re set up on a mobile cryptocurrency wallet, then sent grants and support. BYSOL is fundraising with bitcoin and ethereum as funding options. The organization has raised slightly over $2 million USD to send out to support protesters for their bravery if they are economically tied to the state and are punished for it.
Around the world, as protests mount, cryptocurrencies are starting to be used in various ways to go around established political power and to support protestors and dissidents. Each use further bolsters the case that cryptocurrencies can help support meaningful dissent and political diversity even in the face of extreme repression.
This article is sourced from:https://www.forbes.com