- The debate between two opposing groups involves human rights activists defending BTC and a group of software technicians and engineers.
- Crypto advocates point out that digital currencies are an option for many people living under tyrannies where fiat money has failed.
- Critics of the crypto industry demand a “responsible Fintech policy” and disqualify current uses of blockchain technology.
Activists and human rights defenders from some 20 countries around the world sent a letter to US congressmen in defense of the crypto industry, facing criticism from a large group of computer engineers, technologists, and developers who think that the “status quo of crypto assets is not sustainable.”
The letter available on the Financial Inclusion website is addressed to the leaders of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives of the United States. Among them are Senators Charles E. Schumer and Mitch McConnell and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy.
In the letter, the activists affirm that in their fight for freedom and democracy they “have relied on Bitcoin and dollar instruments known as stablecoins, as have tens of millions of others living under authoritarian regimes or unstable economies.”
Cryptocurrency proponents argue that “Bitcoin provides financial inclusion and empowerment because it is open and permissionless” since “anyone on earth can use it.” They note that cryptocurrencies “offer unparalleled access to the global economy for people in countries like Nigeria, Turkey, or Argentina, where local currencies are collapsing, broken, or cut off from the outside world.”
Challenges to the Blockchain as “Innovative Technology”
On the other hand, critics of cryptocurrencies have urged lawmakers “to take a critical, skeptical approach toward industry claims that crypto-assets (sometimes called cryptocurrencies, crypto tokens, or web3) are an innovative technology that is unreservedly good.” Likewise they ask members of US Congress, “to resist pressure from digital asset industry financiers, lobbyists, and boosters to create a regulatory safe haven for these risky, flawed, and unproven digital financial instruments.”
Instead, they say lawmakers should “take an approach that protects the public interest and ensures that technology is deployed in genuine service to the needs of ordinary citizens."
On the Flipside
- Following the collapse of Terra-Luna and the devaluation of cryptocurrencies in general, pressure groups and lobbyists have stepped up their presence in Washington to allay concerns.
- Currently, US lawmakers and regulators are discussing a regulatory framework for stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin advocates claim that “when currency catastrophes struck Cuba, Afghanistan, and Venezuela, Bitcoin gave our compatriots refuge," and those at risk have been able to be helped “when other options have failed.” They also said that “When crackdowns on civil liberties befell Nigeria, Belarus, and Hong Kong, Bitcoin helped keep the fight against authoritarianism afloat.” As after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, "these technologies (which the critics allege are “not built for purpose”) played a role in sustaining democratic resistance."
Take “an Empathetic and Open-Minded Approach”
They further stated that the letter urges lawmakers to adopt “an open-minded, empathetic approach toward monetary tools that are increasingly playing a role in the lives of people facing political repression and economic hardship."
Several of the 21 activists who signed the document in response to the anti-bitcoin letter participated in the Oslo Freedom Forum, held from May 23 to 25. Proponents of BTC said that “nearly all of the authors of the anti-crypto letter are from countries with stable currencies, free speech, and strong property rights.”
They argued that “Dollar and euro users have most likely not experienced extreme currency devaluation or the cold grip of dictatorship.” They also mentioned that ideas related to “the horrors of monetary colonialism, misogynist financial policy, frozen bank accounts” and other calamities may seem distant to these people.
While for cryptocurrency advocates and “our communities — and to the majority of people worldwide — they are daily realities,” they state. They add in their letter that if there were “‘far better solutions already in use’ to overcome these challenges, we would know.”
Both Groups Pressure Lawmakers
Human rights defenders advocate for an open monetary system and recommend lawmakers “research and explore the global value of these technologies, their empirically proven benefits for millions of people, and their potential.” “We hope that you and your colleagues do not craft or implement policy that hurts our ability to use these new technologies in our human rights and humanitarian work,” the letter says. Critics of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, for their part, call on US lawmakers “to act now to protect investors and the global financial marketplace from the severe risks posed by crypto-assets and must not be distracted by technical obfuscations which mask an abject lack of technological utility.”