Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's efforts to freeze the bank and cryptocurrency exchange accounts of anti-vaccine mandate protesters squeezed the organizers of the protests, putting international trade in jeopardy.
In addressing the "Freedom Convoy" issue, Trudeau may find U.S. politicians who support cryptocurrencies lining up to thank him for alerting them to the potential for a harsh regime to invade the privacy of digital currency packages. A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to prevent a Trudeau-style crackdown on the U.S. government.
The Canadian Prime Minister's invocation of emergency powers has sparked a dormant debate about the role of cryptocurrencies in promoting civil disobedience and illegal activity. Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) advocates funding civil liberties lobbyists to use digital assets to fight authoritarian regimes, while acknowledging that cryptocurrencies have the potential to encourage illegal actors.
The Argument for De-Anonymizing Cryptocurrencies
Governments concerned about criminals, especially in the specialized decentralized financial sector, have every right to do so following the release of Chainalysis' Cryptocurrency Crime Report, which discusses how cryptocurrency crime has increased by 79 percent in 2021.
Decentralized financial services eliminate traditional payment intermediaries and methods, relying instead on a piece of code called a smart contract to perform financial functions, such as lending and adding investments.
Cryptocurrencies Liberate Citizens from Oppressive Regimes, Says Gladstein
In a 2018 Time magazine article, Gladstein addresses the plight of Venezuelans caught in a dictatorial regime, focusing on how unfettered authoritarianism is eroding financial security and independence. According to HRF, more than half of the world's population lives under a dictatorship.
Gladstein points out that the Venezuelan regime has cut inbound overseas remittances by up to 56 percent and has enacted laws that force banks to disclose information about payments of customer funds. To avoid dealing with banks, it can be risky to have family members send money to Colombia, cross the border to withdraw legal tender, and then return to Venezuela.
In China, President Xi Jinping is able to track all transactions on Alipay and WePay, but cannot monitor all cryptocurrencies on a large scale, nor can the Venezuelan regime, as there is no intermediary to review and monitor transactions. Thus, cryptocurrencies could be a lifeline for those who desperately need them.
Right-wingers believe that freedom is threatened
In the wake of Canadian protests and government responses, Republicans have realized that cryptocurrencies have the potential to promote civil liberties because of their inherently censorship-resistant nature. "There's a reason these little authoritarians around the world hate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: they can't control it," argued Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Republican Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) agrees with Cruz. "That's the national strategy. It's really just a concern that it's coming to the Western Hemisphere," Emmer said in an interview. "When you have a central government that can control your actions, your speech, and everything about your freedom? That's not freedom. And that's really what's at stake."
Former U.S. President Donald Trump attended a conservative political action conference in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 26, where he slammed Trudeau's move against truckers as a "left-wing fascist.
From these statements, it does appear that there are many Republicans who support cryptocurrencies. But why? New York Times writer Paul Krugman argues that Republican politicians' preference for cryptocurrencies is due to distrust of major institutions, a seed that Trump sowed within his party during his presidency. As a result, expect more Republican support for cryptocurrency legislation in the near future.
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