Alex Gladstein, Strategy Director of Human Rights Foundation (HRF)warned Americans about the narrative from the media reporting on cryptocurrencies and other data protection tools.
In an article for the magazine time published today, Gladstein said many news outlets reporting on the privacy-focused messaging app Signal or Bitcoin (BTC) tended to associate them with terrorists or criminal organizations. The HRF executive rejected narratives that cast privacy and self-sovereignty in a negative light, saying the next battle would be for money, in this case cryptocurrencies.
“The authorities will blame extremism not only for Signal and Telegram, but also for Bitcoin and everything else that they cannot control.” Said Gladstein.
“Bitcoin is neutral like cash and cannot differentiate between good and bad […] Some extremists use these tools. They also use cell phones, email, and the Internet. “
Gladstein claimed that Financial privacy was just as important to a healthy democratic state as privacy in communication tools. Highlighted how young Hong Kong democracy protesters used cash instead of credit cards to travel to protests So the authorities would have more difficulty tracking them down.
Meanwhile, government officials in Belarus, Russia and Nigeria have been able to “monitor and freeze the bank accounts” of people associated with similar movements. In these cases, many pro-democracy groups and individuals have been able to use cryptocurrencies to circumvent these measures and still obtain funds. For example, a Ukraine-based cryptocurrency exchange refused to comply with an official request from the Belarusian Ministry of Finance to provide personal information about people who could potentially be classified as dissidents.
“Most Americans may not yet understand that financial privacy is as important to our democracy as communication privacy. Your spending habits tell more about you than your words.” Said Gladstein. “In an open society, the ability to buy political books, use discreet medical procedures, and build communities without government oversight are essential.”
The HRF executive warned against this The move away from financial instruments like Bitcoin could lead to a larger police state in the United States driven by “mass surveillance to combat extremism”.
It is unclear if this narrative will change under the administration of new US President Joe Biden. Many in the crypto space appear to be optimistic about the election of Biden to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler. Janet Yellen, confirmed yesterday as Secretary of the Treasury in the United States Senate, said cryptocurrencies are “primarily for illegal funding” but plan to encourage their use for “legitimate activities”.