When Bitcoin first hit the scene, its fans touted it as a way for people to, “be their own bank.” There was no need for a middle man.
Bitcoin was the first decentralized digital currency in the world with a reputation for being libertarian and anti-banking with a cypherpunk influence. This reputation gave you key indicators about Bitcoin’s main purpose and functionality.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows anyone in the world to manage their own financial accounts. There’s no need for an intermediary like a bank or other middle men.
Because of the many benefits Bitcoin offers, it’s an extremely useful technology for organizations and individuals who are unable to use traditional banks. Some banks even refuse to service certain people and organizations because of their involvement in political activism or because of the type of work they do.
What Happened at WikiLeaks
In 2011, a Swiss Bank shut down WikiLeaks account with them. WikiLeaks, (a well-known whistle blowing organization), began to accept Bitcoin after that. The bank account shut down caused the organization to lose more than €100,000 or $110,000 earned throughout 2010. Paypal, Bank of America, Mastercard and Visa all refused to give WikiLeaks an account as well.
The only way WikiLeaks was able to continue to operate was to receive donations through Bitcoin. This turned out to be a successful maneuver. WikiLeaks received 4,025 Bitcoin between 2011 and 2017.
As of November 2017, that amount is worth around $32 million. WikiLeaks has no need to worry about how its operation will receive funding in the future.
The success of the WikiLeaks maneuver gained public attention recently when Julian Assange sent out a sarcastic tweet that thanked the organization’s enemies for forcing them to start accepting Bitcoin. Since they started doing this, Bitcoin has gone up in value 50,000%.
As of November 2017, WikiLeaks has started accepting Zcash, (ZEC), Monero (XMR) and Litecoin, (LTC) in addition to Bitcoin.
The Story on Edward Snowden
Even people who didn’t follow the story of Edward Snowden knew something about him. The public associated him with espionage and some sort of high tech criminal activity. However, those that followed the story understood his actions weren’t simply founded in the desire to be criminally mischievous. Snowden was another whistleblower who brought the US government’s, (specifically the NSA’s), mass public surveillance programs to light.
He showed the public how its government intelligence agencies like the GCHQ, CIA and NSA routinely spied on their citizens. They did this without restriction or fear of legal recourse. Snowden’s actions caused the public to become enraged in 2013. In addition, his actions did little to stop intelligence agencies from collecting private and personal data from organizations and citizens without restriction.
For those who value their privacy, Snowden’s exposure of these things was an important turning point in their relationship with their government and with technology. Many have made encryption a priority. They ensure they use top notch cybersecurity tools and platforms. They advocate for privacy whenever they can.
Most people concerned about their privacy are now using things like:
- Encrypted messengers like Signal
- Encrypted email services like ProtonMail
- The Tor Browser to surf anonymously online
- Pseudonymous digital currencies like Bitcoin for online financial transactions
Several countries refused to offer Snowden asylum under pressure from the US Government. Russia finally accepted him though. He moved to Moscow in 2013 and has lived there ever since. He is a regular speaker at teleconferences on issues of privacy and cyber security.
The Edward Snowden Defense Fund is working so that Snowden can receive a fair trial in the United States. They’re accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. Since US citizens were barred from donating to Snowden by President Obama, Bitcoin gives everyone the chance to donate to the cause without banks tracking the transactions.
So far, the fund has raised more than 202 BTC which is equal to more than $1.6 million in November 2017.
Pirate Bay: The Name Says it All
Pirate Bay offers an ethically questionable service. It provides free content versions of copywritten content. Pirate Bay was one of the first peer-to-peer, torrenting, file sharing websites in the world. However, they essentially enable the stealing and sharing of intellectual property that individuals and corporations rightfully own.
Pirate Bay was founded by Piratbyran, (a Swedish think tank called The Pirate Bureau), in 2003. It was established to build a supportive community around the free exchange of information, intellectual property and entertainment. Pirate Bay’s operators, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm were found guilty of assisting with copyright infringement.
In 2009, they were sentenced to one year in a Swedish jail along with fines. Pirate Bay’s first website was taken down. However, many proxy sites popped up soon after and are still in existence today. Experts believe that the complete shutdown of Pirate Bay is impossible.
Because Pirate Bay walks a fine line when it comes to ethics; traditional financial institutions don’t offer the company services. Pirate Bay uses Bitcoin donations to stay in operation. It’s been accepting Bitcoin since 2013.
Pirate Bay has several proxy sites that law enforcement agencies shut down on a regular basis. The main site features the Bitcoin donation address. The address has amassed 12 BTC over the years. In November 2017, it was valued at $100,000
Legal Cannabis Still Treated Like an Illegal Business by Banks
No matter what people think about cannabis, it’s legal for people to use in some medical situations, in 32 US states and some world countries and territories. There really is no ethical fine line when it comes to legal cannabis use.
Canada is even planning to make cannabis legal in summer 2018.
According to financial research conducted by New Frontier Data, states that decide to legalize cannabis will generate $655 million more in state taxes. Of that $655 million, $559 million will come from taxing the sale of cannabis.
Colorado’s cannabis industry generated more than $1 billion in sales throughout 2016. The industry created new businesses, new jobs and millions in new tax revenues throughout the state.
However, even though the legal cannabis industry is helping to heal sick people and bringing in millions in tax revenue, banks refuse to serve businesses within the industry.
They state that cannabis sales are still illegal on a federal level. Therefore, they can’t serve these businesses with traditional banking products. As it stands today, the legal cannabis businesses exists as a mainly cash one just like the illegal cannabis business did. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of robbery and theft for law abiding, tax paying business owners.
In order to avoid these risks, many legal cannabis business owners are switching to Bitcoin sales. There are also several startup companies working to develop point-of-sale Bitcion payment processors specifically for the legal cannabis industry. Many legal cannabis businesses already accept Bitcoin since it’s the only digital payment processor that doesn’t discriminate against users.