Alex Gladstein, the Human Rights Foundation’s chief strategy officer, alerts Americans of the narrative that comes from media outlets focusing on cryptocurrency and other privacy tools.
Gladstein said in a Time Magazine report published today that certain news sources reporting stories about the privacy-focused Signal or Bitcoin messaging app appeared to associate them with terrorists or criminal organizations. The exec of the Human Rights Foundation pushed back on narratives that in a negative light paint privacy and self-sovereignty, saying the next battle will move into money, cryptocurrencies in this case.
“Authorities will blame extremism not just on Signal and Telegram, but also on Bitcoin and anything they can’t control,” said Gladstein. He added: “Bitcoin is neutral like cash, and can’t discriminate between good and bad […] Some extremists use these tools. They also use mobile phones, email, and the internet.”
According to cointelegraph.com Gladstein argued that financial privacy was just as important as privacy in communication tools for a stable democratic state. He highlighted how young pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong used cash to travel to demonstrations instead of credit cards, meaning the government will have a tougher time monitoring them.
Meanwhile, government authorities have been able to “monitor and freeze bank accounts” for those associated with similar movements in Belarus, Russia, and Nigeria. Through these examples, several pro-democracy organisations and people have been able to leverage crypto to circumvent and yet gain funds through these measures. A Ukraine-based crypto exchange, for example, failed to cooperate with an official order from the Financial Investigations Department of Belarus to supply sensitive information on citizens who may possibly be classified as dissidents.
“Most Americans may not yet grasp that financial privacy is just as important as communications privacy for our democracy — that your spending habits say more about you than your words,” said Gladstein. “In an open society, the ability to buy political books, have discreet medical procedures, and build communities without government surveillance is essential.“
The executive of the Human Rights Foundation threatened that moving away from financial tools such as Bitcoin could contribute to a greater U.S. police state fueled by “mass surveillance to fight extremism.”