Human rights advocates from 20 countries have insisted that bitcoin “provides financial inclusion and empowerment because it is open and permissionless.” Along with stablecoins, the cryptocurrency offers “unprecedented access to the global economy” for people from countries whose currencies have collapsed or are cut off from the rest of the world.
Bitcoin as a Tool for Financial Inclusion and Empowerment
Around 21 human rights advocates from 20 different countries have sent a letter to the US Congress in which they defend bitcoin and refute allegations recently raised by some 1,500 computer scientists, software engineers and technologists. According to human rights advocates, “bitcoin enables financial inclusion and empowerment because it is open and permissionless.”
In their open letter to US congressional leaders, the advocates point out how bitcoin and stablecoins have offered “unprecedented access to the global economy for people in countries like Nigeria, Turkey or Argentina, where local currencies are collapsing, break or are cut off from the outside world.”
The human rights defenders explained in their letter that they had been forced to respond to the demands contained in another letter in the US Congress written by bitcoin opponents. In their so-called crypto letter, critics urged lawmakers not to bow to pressure from crypto space players and lobbyists. Computer scientists and their counterparts have claimed that crypto proponents seek “to create a regulatory haven for these risky, flawed and unproven digital financial instruments.”
Technologists also reject claims that cryptocurrencies are well positioned to solve the financial problems Americans face.
However, pushing back against the scientists’ claims in their open letter, the human rights advocates said they know full well that cryptocurrencies have made a difference in countries devastated by natural disasters.
In countries where citizens are oppressed, bitcoin has helped “keep the fight against authoritarianism afloat,” advocates said. The human rights defenders’ letter also highlights how technology that opponents say is “not designed for a specific purpose” has made a difference in Ukraine.
Crypto as an equalizer
Meanwhile, in their letter which aims to help US policymakers see that bitcoin “is valuable to tens of millions of people around the world”, the defenders highlight the backgrounds of the letter’s signers who criticize crypto -currencies. According to human rights advocates, “almost all of the anti-crypto letter writers come from countries with stable currencies, freedom of speech and strong property rights.” They added:
For most Westerners, the horrors of monetary colonialism, misogynistic financial policy, frozen bank accounts, exploitative remittance businesses and the inability to connect to the global economy might be distant ideas. For most of us and our communities – and for the majority of people around the world – these are daily realities. If there were “much better solutions already in use” to overcome these challenges, we would know.
Concluding their letter, the human rights advocates said US congressional leaders must investigate the value of these technologies, their empirically proven benefits for millions of people, and their potential. They also urged lawmakers to develop or implement policies that “do not impair their ability to use these new technologies in their humanitarian and human rights work.”
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