Human rights activists address Congress in defense of Bitcoin

In a letter countering a recent call to crack down on crypto, human rights activists sought to draw attention to Bitcoin’s utility for dissidents in authoritarian countries.

A group of 21 activists from 20 countries have signed the Letter in Support of Responsible Crypto Policy, defending the role Bitcoin and stablecoins play in dissident struggles around the world. Drafted by the pro-crypto Bitcoin Policy Institute (BPI), the letter describes cryptocurrencies’ utility in Cuba, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and, most recently, Ukraine.

It was issued in response to the Letter in Support of Responsible Fintech Policy, which gathered about 1,500 signatures from tech experts and computer scientists urging US Congress to crack down on cryptocurrencies, crypto tokens, and Web3.

Calling crypto assets “risky, flawed, and unproven,” the anti-crypto letter decried the blockchain technology as a “solution in search of a problem” which “has now latched onto concepts such as financial inclusion and data transparency to justify its existence, despite far better solutions already in use.”

Cautious enthusiasm

The BPI’s address was published on the same day Senator Cynthia Lummis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the draft of the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which establishes crypto assets’ legal status and stablecoin regulations.

While prominent members of the crypto community praised the proposal as “thoughtful” and “a major step forward for the crypto industry,” the pro-crypto letter’s signatories sounded more reserved, pleading with Congress not to implement policies that would hamper “human rights and humanitarian work.”

The Letter in Support of Responsible Crypto Policy was signed by Ire Aderinokun, a founding member of the Feminist Coalition in Nigeria, Alex Gladstein from the US-based Human Rights Foundation, and Afghani girls’ education activist Roya Mahboob, among others. Other signatories represented countries like Cuba, Belarus, Russia, Palestine, and North Korea. Members of the public can sign the letter until June 14.