Sarah E. Jimenez
Every time, Governments try to crack down on the freedoms that the Internet provides, there is a backlash, and the digital currency experiment, is no exception.
Many have tried to clampdown on Bitcoin regulation, including steps taken by the Chinese to end Bitcoin mining, South Koreas' total Bitcoin ban and Egypt's call for branding Bitcoin as "haram'.
Yes, powerful leaders are shaking in their boots and yet, decentralized digital trading has continued to grow exponentially.
Why is this something we should care about?
Whilst we can all cheer for freedom and pray the market regulates itself, the truth is we want to be able to exercise some control right away, as Bitcoin gives large internet wiggle room to some of our ugliest social outsiders.
It's only a matter of time until the opinion that you personally despise, blows up on the Net.
If like me, you detest the Neo- Nazis, it doesn't matter, there are those that feel otherwise and want to finance hate projects online. Rather than preaching from a soap box, thousands of extremists' views can now be heard and bankrolled by simply setting up a crowd funding site.
The internet with all its good, has given the Neo- Nazis a wider reach. Thousands of potential recruits are brought onboard by online Twitter groups and anonymous message boards.
It hasn't been pretty, witnessing how many Far-right supporters creeping out of the shadows online and with thousands of groups gathering speed over the growing dark net, we are all a little bit nervous.
In response to this and at the same time of the Charlottesville rally, the online activities of far-rightists were put under a microscope and the press proudly claimed that tech platforms were kicking the racists off their site.
Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and Patreon shut down far-right fundraisers and Google Pay and Paypal stopped White Nationalists selling merchandise with Nazi branding.
Most of us cheered and claimed that we could still have our virtual freedom cake and eat it. We could and should have online mass fundraising and we can and will stop the haters financing their next cyber venture.
This victory however was short-lived and the Nazis got pragmatic. By using bitcoin to finance their initiatives under new crowdfunding platforms, aptly named Hatreon, Goyfundme and Counter.Fund, the Far-right put themselves back in play, online.
The Neo Nazis just love Bitcoin. Richard Spencer has even called bitcoin the "currency of the alt right'. Think about it, if you truly believed that all banks are controlled by a Jewish conspiracy, Cryptocurrency with its' decentralized platforms is a fantastic opportunity to finally finance without ethnic minorities in control, it's freedom from those you hate.
Unless of course, Bitcoin was also controlled by the Jews or another minority group, or initiated by a Japanese American, back in 2009, but let's get to that one, another time.
Bitcoin allows extremist groups such as Neo-Nazis and 'cyber- jihadists' to raise, transfer and disperse funds at an unbelievable pace.
Under the guise of free speech, "Voat" a right-wing alternative to Reddit, claims that 'no legal subject should be out of bounds'. For fundraising, Hatreon is offering donors a chance to give monthly support for different projects. Finally, for payments, jihadists were able to pay its members for their cyber missions solely in bitcoin, which of course, due to bitcoin volatility could put be a plus or a minus for extremists.
The downside for the extremists and the potential light at the end of the money tunnel here, is that Bitcoin transactions tied to a Bitcoin wallet are public. The bitcoin wallet ID, completely in the open, may be a great way to raise funds away from traditional banks but it’s a very easy way for those tracking extremists to follow the money trail. Isn't that nice to hear?
So, the Internet has not only brought our extremists out of the closet and onto the Net, it may also be exposing their activities, way past their comfort zone, through deregulated cryptocurrency.
With the upcoming G20 summit we will see if powerful nations are even able to impose real and effective regulations on Bitcoin trading to hamper extremist financing, because frankly, digitalized currencies are a little out of control.