September 24, 2018
Vloggers. Sex workers. Conservatives. Iranians. People from every strata of society, with nothing in common, save for a shared grievance. All have found themselves locked out without warning by their payment provider. Account frozen. Funds seized. Lifeline severed. And for what exactly? For the amorphous crime of failing to comply with the terms of service. In reality, however, the only criminals are the financial providers who perpetrated these deeds against their customers.
Once Upon a Time, In a Cryptosphere Far, Far Away…
7th December, 2010. The combined forces of Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, and Western Union have imposed a financial blockade against Wikileaks in retaliation for publishing the largest leak in journalistic history. Pressured by the US government, the financial cartels roll over and do Uncle Sam’s bidding. By summer of 2011, with 95% of its revenue cut off, Wikileaks turns to an obscure alternative payment system called Bitcoin.
By December, bitcoins, then trading south of $3 apiece, are winging their way to Wikileaks’ BTC wallet. Not everyone is convinced that their decision to accept the nascent cryptocurrency is the right one, not least its creator Satoshi Nakamoto. “It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context,” he grumbles in a Bitcointalk thread. “Wikileaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”
Two days later, Satoshi Nakamoto logged out of the forum he founded for the last time and was never heard of again. Whatever his reasons for hanging up his mask, by the time he departed, the genie was out of the bottle. It would be several years before Bitcoin would permeate the mainstream and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with, but even back then, before Satoshi exited stage left, and…