Bitcoin continues to get widely accepted by many industries—and a few of the reasons why are payment convenience, decentralisation, and other economic or financial use cases. But not so long ago, this certain group saw Bitcoin’s value from another perspective. According to Alex Gladstein from Human Rights Foundation (HRF), buying Bitcoin strengthens a “tool for protecting” human rights.
Way back in 2020…
The Human Rights Foundation, a prominent international organisation dedicated to promoting democracy and freedom, is continuing to research the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) to safeguard human rights across the world. They established a fund in 2020 to help software engineers make the Bitcoin network more private, decentralised, and secure so that it can better serve as a financial instrument for human rights activists, civil society groups, and journalists throughout the world.
What is the Human Rights Foundation?
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a New York-based non-profit that promotes and protects human rights across the world, with an emphasis on closed societies. Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, a Venezuelan film producer and human rights activist, established the Human Rights Foundation in 2005. Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov now serves as chairman, while Javier El-Hage serves as a chief legal officer.
What about the HRF Bitcoin Development Fund?
As mentioned above, the Bitcoin Development Fund at HRF is dedicated to enhancing the Bitcoin Network’s privacy, usability, and resilience. According to their website, HRF has given more than $750,000 to developers and educators throughout the world so far. The Bitcoin Development Fund continues to receive assistance from HRF, with the next round of gifts set to be revealed in Q3 of 2021.
Bitcoin and Tyranny: What is Gladstein’s take about it?
In Gladstein’s 2018 essay “Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom,” he talked about Venezuelans’ case of using Bitcoin as an escape valve. Venezuelans have no method of reforming the policies that have ruined their economy since they live in an authoritarian state. They are unable to hold their rulers responsible in free and fair elections or to agitate for change without fear of retaliation.
But ever since innovations happen, Venezuelans started using Bitcoin to avoid hyperinflation and financial regulations. Speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries have obscured Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention’s true, liberating potential. Bitcoin can be a helpful financial tool for those living under authoritarian governments as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.
Many Venezuelans migrate to escape tyranny and a lack of food, medication, and medical supplies. However, those who stay behind are cut from remittances or money coming from abroad. New rules compel Venezuelans to conduct international transactions through local banks, and institutions must reveal information on how people get and spend their funds. Under government pressure, Venezuelan banks have blocked consumers from accessing their online accounts using foreign IP addresses.
Some Venezuelans have begun receiving bitcoin from relatives in other countries to get through this bureaucracy. It has become feasible to text your family and request Bitcoin, then receive it minutes later for a little charge. Because Bitcoin is decentralised and appears in your phone wallet in a peer-to-peer manner, government censorship is impossible.
Additionally, below are the summarised reasons why Gladstein became interested in using Bitcoin to aid in human rights activism, as stated in a 2019 Forbes Article (How Bitcoin Can Help In The Fight For Human Rights):
- Bitcoin is deflationary, which means the government cannot create more of it and debase the currency’s value.
- Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, disabling the government to halt a transaction.
- Bitcoin is permissionless, which means you may use it without a passport or ID.
HRF Latest Update
According to the May 2021 report of Yahoo! Finance, the HRF Bitcoin Development Fund will award $210,000 to Bitcoin developers, two Lightning Network wallet teams, and an Arabic translator in its current round. Calvin Kim, Dhruv Mehta, and Abubakar Nur Kahlil, Bitcoin Core contributors, will each earn $50,000 in this round; the Breez and Sphinx wallet teams will each receive $25,000; English-Arabic translator Arabic HODL will receive $10,000.
For years of being around us, Bitcoin has proven enough of its value in many ways. Although there are still some risks to consider, the Bitcoin developers are in the progress of making it better. Many may not need this at the moment, but it cannot be denied that Bitcoin has the potential to make a big difference for people who cannot trust the central authority.
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