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3 Ways Governments Could Use Blockchain Technology to Oppress its Citizens

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blockchain technology to oppress

The blockchain has many applications for the public sector that can improve the quality of government services, safeguard property rights, prevent fraud, and cut red tape while improving transparency. However, what is not often discussed, is that malicious governments could also use blockchain technology to oppress its citizens.

This article highlights how governments could potentially misuse the blockchain to reduce the individual liberties of its citizens and suppress those with opposing views.

When a Sovereign Digital Currency Means Tracking All Financial Transactions

Blockchain-based decentralised digital currencies have the potential to enable economic, political and social freedom. Conversely, the emergence of sovereign centralized “cryptocurrencies” – issued by central banks – contradicts everything that bitcoin and the blockchain stand for and hoped to fix.

agentThe main goal of cryptocurrencies was to decentralize power, not to boost existing authorities. With centralized state-run blockchains, power is heavily concentrated as governments maintain control over the entire network.

Government-controlled cryptocurrencies could impose dangerous limitations on citizen’s civil freedoms, including pervasive anti-privacy measures.

By being able to track every single financial transaction, citizens would lose their financial sovereignty and the personal freedom that comes with spending one’s money on whatever a citizen wants.

Having every single transaction tracked would inevitably lead to mass financial data collection to determine behavioural and spending patterns of each individual in the country, which could be used against them, should they become at odds with the government or someone with close government ties.

When Blockchain-based Digital Identities Are Used to Track Digital Footprints

One of the most impactful developments in the blockchain industry has been the advancement of secure digital identities. Identification is needed for everything from voting to health care. For the over one billion people worldwide who do not have a legal form of identity, digital identities can provide a much-needed solution.

Digital identities can be stored on a blockchain, which can then be used to handle information such as a patient’s medical records, which can be easily and safely accessed by a health care provider when they are seeking care.

However, if a malicious government has full control of the digital ID system and all its citizens’ data, it could use this to track each citizen’s digital footprints. For example, if the social media accounts, financial services, mobile payment firms accounts of citizens are bound to their digital identity, the government could very easily track individuals’ movements in real-time.

This already happens to a degree in countries like the U.S and U.K. as we learned from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. Every day, intelligence agencies collect hundreds of millions of emails, texts, and phone calls and can collect and sift through billions more. The surveillance technology for tracking and identifying people is booming as is governments’ appetite for it. Add in the current digital tracking systems with facial recognition software and digital identities, and this endangers citizen’s right to privacy.

Blockchain-based digital identity systems thus need to be implemented with care and the oversight of the network should not be limited to the government as the potential for misuse is huge.

When Digital Identities Are Used to Create a Social Credit Scoring System

surveillance

Credit scores dictate a person’s involvement in the financial system, including loan or mortgage approvals, interest rates, and insurance rates. It can impact someone’s ability to rent an apartment or secure a credit card, for example.

China’s latest surveillance efforts include a social credit system that aims to rate each citizen’s social value according to their actions.

Drawing data from government agencies, court verdicts, and even mobile payment firms, the scheme assigns each person an individual score. Failure to repay debts or smoked on a train, you could land on a blacklist posted on a public website. The plan is to rate citizens by their financial and legal histories, their online behaviour, education records, and employment activities.

If such an oppressive social credit scoring system is implemented and interlinked with blockchain technology, the data stored on the system would become immutable and easily shareable with permissioned third parties, such as corporations, who could, in turn, limit low-ranking individuals’ ability to live freely even further.

Such a system could be used by governments to oppress its citizens especially those seen as having a lesser value or those that threaten its power. The blockchain could potentially amplify the oppressive nature of such a social credit scoring system.

Keep Your Leaders in Check

While the blockchain was created to decentralize power, the unfortunate reality is that as the technology has evolved, there are now ways it could be used to make oppressive governments more powerful.

Hence, it is important to stay mindful of how the blockchain can be misused when you hear of your government implementing a new blockchain initiative and to speak up if the initiative could go turn into a tool of oppression.

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Weekly Roundup: Swahili Blockchain Book Now Available, Binance P2P Volumes Hit $280 Million in Africa

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blockchain book

After experiencing raging swings this year, Bitcoin hit a new all-time high this week. On Monday, bitcoin recorded a price of $19,850, breaking the 2017 record. In other news, the Swahili blockchain book is now available for purchase, and Binance P2P trading in Africa is flourishing.

Read these and other stories in our news roundup this week.

Swahili Blockchain Book Now Available

Swahili Blockchain BookThe Swahili blockchain book is now available for purchase. The goal of this book, Jielimishe Kuhusu Blockchain, is to educate Swahili readers about blockchain technology. As a result, readers can contribute to regulatory conversations in their countries to help policymakers make the best decisions.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Professor Florens Luoga, is one of the first people to read the book. Sandra Chogo, the author, handed him the blockchain book during a conference held in the country.

According to Chogo, the Governor’s interest in the book could indicate that the regulator is warming up to the blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The book has already received a positive reception from the Tanzanian government.

Binance P2P Volumes Hit $280 Million in Africa

Binance P2P trading in Africa has grown significantly because the exchange is supporting six local currencies. So far, the exchange has processed a total volume of $280 million P2P trades in Africa.

In March 2020, Binance started supporting the Nigerian naira. Currently, African users can use Binance P2P to buy and sell BTC, USDT, DAI, BNB, ETH, and BUSD using the Kenyan shilling, the South African rand, the Nigerian naira, the Moroccan dirham, the Ghanaian cedi, and the Egyptian pound.

According to Binance, P2P traders on the platform are making an income between $30 and $350 each day.

“I solely rely on P2P trading as the main source of my income. With P2P trading, I can sufficiently meet my needs and bills. The best thing is that I can trade at my own time and any place,” said Robacoin, a P2P merchant.

P2P trading on the continent could continue the upward trend as more and more Africans turn to crypto to make an income and to remit money.

Nigeria Could Develop a Crypto and Blockchain Framework

Nigerian SEC to Regulate CryptoThe Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria classified digital assets as securities a few months ago. Now, the regulator and the Ministry of Finance are discussing the creation of a crypto and blockchain framework.

According to recent news, the two bodies want to create a regulatory environment for blockchain. Also, the Nigeria SEC is keen to facilitate the adoption of the technology.

“The general objective of regulation is not to hinder technology or stifle innovation, but to create standards that encourage ethical practices that ultimately make for a fair and efficient market,” the SEC Nigeria stated.

Furthermore, the country is hoping to obtain $10 billion in revenue from blockchain technology by 2030.

Sarafu Network Beneficiaries Soar 40,000

One of Africa’s community currencies project, Sarafu Network, now has 40,000 beneficiaries. The Grassroots Economics initiative is helping communities in rural Kenya to access basic needs like food. To date, users have traded more than 100 million community tokens. In October 2020, for instance, the beneficiaries traded more than 8 million Sarafu tokens for food. During a global pandemic and a declining economy, the Sarafu Network is helping the needy to stay afloat.

Grassroots Economics uses the power of the blockchain to create community inclusion currencies (CICs).

“In a typical community dependent on injections of the national currency – trade will often slow to a crawl and stop due to lack of a national currency as commodity prices increase. As we have seen in Kenya where Sarafu has been distributed to over 40,000 people, in communities with a Community Inclusion Currency trade can continue,” Grassroots Economics Founder Will Ruddick says.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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How to Buy Bitcoin with Gift Cards

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Buy Bitcoin with Gift Cards

In this guide, you will learn how to buy bitcoin with gift cards on Africa’s leading bitcoin peer-to-peer marketplace Paxful.

How to Buy Bitcoin with Gift Cards

If you have a gift card that is unused or with a balance, you can trade it for bitcoin. Leading bitcoin exchange Paxful is making it easy for people across the globe to trade gift cards for crypto.

According to a recent report by Arcane Research, gift cards are the most popular payment method on Paxful. One of the reasons for this is that immigrants use gift cards to send remittances home.

The steps below will show you how to buy bitcoin with gift cards.

how to buy bitcoin with gift cards

  • First, ensure that the gift card you want to sell has a balance. Also, take a photo of the receipt you received after buying your gift card. If you did not buy it, ask the person that did to send you a picture of the receipt. Bear in mind that some buyers might only accept a gift card purchased with cash.
  • Visit the Paxful website.
  • Next, create an account. If you already have an account, log in.
  • Carry out all the KYC requirements. On Paxful, that includes providing proof of your identity and address, email address verification, and phone number verification.
  • After completing the KYC process, click “Buy” then select ‘Bitcoin.’
  • Choose gift cards as the payment method. Also, enter the amount you wish to spend in your preferred currency. When inserting the amount, consider the gift card balance. Note that you cannot sell a fraction of the card’s value.
  • Click “Search Offers.” The platform will display a list of all traders that fit the terms you entered.
  • Look for traders that are accepting the gift card you are selling. For instance, if you have an iTunes gift card, look for traders that are accepting this card.
  • Examine their buying limits, prices, and terms. Also, review the trust rating of the seller, the feedback they have received, and if they have verified all their details. Trading with a fully-verified person reduces the risk of trading with a false trader. You will also want to trade with an active trader.
  • Once you find the right trader, click “Buy.”

buy bitcoin gift cards

Final Trading Steps

  • Read the terms of the seller.
  • Kick start a chat if the platform offers this feature. On Paxful, you can have a live chat with the seller. Here, you shall send a photo of the gift card and proof of ownership in the form of a receipt. Since sellers could offer invalid cards, Paxful requires them to upload a security deposit of 0.1BTC. The security deposit protects buyers from fraud.
  • Once you have provided the bitcoin seller with all the necessary card details, click “Paid.”
  • The seller will confirm payment after they have verified the card’s balance. Most retailers allow gift cardholders to view the balance online.
  • After the bitcoin seller has confirmed the payment, you will receive your bitcoin. The BTC balance should reflect after a few minutes.

Creating An Offer

buy bitcoin with amazon gift cardAlternatively, you can set up a buy bitcoin offer.

Here is how to go about it:

  • Log into your account.
  • Select bitcoin as the cryptocurrency you want to buy.
  • Choose gift cards as the payment method.
  • Select the currency of your choice.
  • Pick a bitcoin rate. You can choose the market or fixed price.
  • Select the price margin. This is the percentage of your offer, above or below the market price.
  • Enter the trade and time limits.
  • Next, write the trade terms and instructions. You can also choose the verification requirements for potential bitcoin sellers.
  • Once you are satisfied, create your offer and wait. The platform will display the offer to traders that are selling bitcoin in exchange for gift cards. If a trader likes your terms, then they will initiate a trade with you.

Purchasing bitcoin with gift cards is a straightforward process. To start buying bitcoin with gift cards, sign up to Paxful today.

*This article was written in cooperation with Paxful, Africa’s leading peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange. 

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RESIST! How Activists Can Use Bitcoin

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Activists Can Use Bitcoin

As social justice movements leverage social media platforms like Twitter to make their voices heard, many have discovered a new tool: Bitcoin. The internet is the epicentre of social change, and it only makes sense that activists are now adding bitcoin to their arsenal. During the recent #EndSARS Nigerian campaign, young feminists raised $55,000 in cash and bitcoin donations, which is an example of how activists can use bitcoin to raise funds.

So, can cryptocurrencies provide the same level of impact on activism as social media platforms? This article explores how activists can use bitcoin.

The Financial Challenges of Activism

Activism

Any activist willing to protest against injustice should know how to raise money. Protesters need banners, water, food, and medical care in case they get hurt. These requirements come at a cost, necessitating movements to search for funds.

Activists can raise money out of pocket or they can reach out to well-wishers for donations. The former option is unreliable, which means that social justice movements have to fully rely on donations. Unfortunately, government censorship can make it hard for such movements to receive donations through banks and other conventional financial institutions. Moreover, they could punish the donors that support social justice campaigns.

The #EndSARS campaign, for instance, has faced challenges with receiving donations because the Flutterwave links were down for some time. According to Tweets on the Feminist Coalition account, the Central Bank of Nigeria could have been behind the Flutterwave payment issues. However, it is unclear. Flutterwave is a payment solution in Nigeria, while the Feminist Coalition is one of the organisations that has been active in raising donations for the campaign.

Furthermore, donors outside the country where a campaign is taking place will find it challenging to send donations due to the high cost of sending money. Also, online payment platforms like PayPal are not available in every country. That prevents people in these countries from making donations to campaigns happening in other parts of the world.

Speed is also important when collecting donations. Activists will often need funds immediately to keep a campaign going long enough to make an impact. Therefore, if they are not receiving cash directly, they might have to visit a bank to withdraw large amounts of money. That could waste a lot of precious time.

Can Activists Use Bitcoin to Solve Financial Problems?

BLM

Yes, they can.

Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, which means that governments cannot prevent activists from receiving donations in bitcoin. That provides the convenience that activists need to fund their campaigns when they are still “hot” enough to make a difference.

To solve the challenge of receiving donations through Flutterwave, the Feminist Coalition is now accepting bitcoin donations only.

Bitcoin is pseudonymous, which means that governments cannot easily trace bitcoin transactions to the real-world identities of the senders and recipients. That offers a sense of security to both donors and activists, especially in countries where protesting can mean beatings, jail time, or death.

It is even better when social justice movements are decentralised because there are no public leaders that law enforcement can pursue. For instance, much of the #EndSARS and #BlackLivesMatter campaigns grew organically online.

Therefore, activists can use bitcoin to receive pseudonymous and censorship-resistant donations.

Moreover, they can receive donations from anywhere at any time. That is because bitcoin is accessible 24/7 to anyone with a smartphone or computer and an internet connection. As a result, more people can financially support causes they believe in, even though they live on another continent.

Also, bitcoin transactions do not involve third parties, thereby cutting down the cost and increasing transaction speeds. Once a donor sends BTC, the activist will receive it in minutes and fund their campaign immediately.

Furthermore, buying supplies for a protest becomes easier when local businesses start accepting crypto payments. For instance, several local businesses started accepting cryptocurrencies in 2019 in support of the Hong Kong protests against Chinese influence.

Bridging the Wealth Gap

BLM activistFighting deep-rooted social injustices require bridging the wealth gap between the oppressors and the oppressed.

In a world where the wealthy influence political decisions in their favour, amassing wealth could be a possible solution that marginalised communities can adopt to fight discrimination.

Here is where bitcoin can come in.

Since marginalised communities suffer discrimination from traditional financial institutions, bitcoin becomes an attractive alternative. The censorship-resistant and easy accessibility of bitcoin means that marginalised communities can use it to create wealth and acquire financial freedom and the power to fight prejudices.

By way of illustration, activists can direct part of the bitcoin donations they receive to fund small businesses in the community. As a result, financially stronger businesses can create jobs and increase the purchasing power of other community members.

Other methods that communities can use to create wealth include buying and holding bitcoin and accessing business loans in crypto.

Money can help fight police brutality better than protesting on the streets. That is what Bitcoin and Black America author, Isaiah Jackson, believes.

“Without economic strength, you have cops coming from outside of the community […], and they do not value it [or the people]. They do not see you as a person, and that is an issue,” he told Cointelegraph.

Moreover, marginalised communities can create their tokens or community currencies to improve their financial positions.

Social media has made the world aware of the social injustices that take place in various parts of the world. Now, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are giving the world a chance to support social justice movements financially. Together, both tools are creating a world where no one has to fight injustices alone.

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