Recent protests in Ottawa and blockades around the Canada-U.S. border caused tension in a three week long tug of war between people and state. Truckers came out in opposition to mask mandates and mandatory vaccinations, drawing a large crowd of supporters in-person and online. Fiat and even crypto donations were flowing into crowdfunding campaigns and wallet addresses. Shortly after, the Canadian government instructed banks to freeze 206 accounts affiliated with the protest. In an unprecedented move, Trudeau signed the Emergencies Act. In a tweet by Ottawa police, they threatened financial sanctions as repercussions and viewed any support as a criminal charge. In recent days, the Emergencies Act has finally been revoked, though bank accounts remain frozen and wallet addresses continue to be blacklisted.
The Canadian government was able to easily blacklist 253 wallet addresses due to the easily traceable nature of Bitcoin: "The past and present ownership of every Bitcoin—in fact every 10-millionth of a Bitcoin—is dutifully recorded in the blockchain, an ever-growing public ledger shared across the Internet" (Bohannon). This is why criminals can't hide behind Bitcoin, or even Ethereum for that matter on centralized exchanges because of the identity authentication process (Know Your Customer). If another crypto fundraiser were to take place, Bitcoin may not be the answer — its addresses are too transparent on the blockchain.
The only way to avoid central authority's overstep without recourse is to successfully move away from wallets on centralized exchanges. In response to the Emergencies Act, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell advised worried users: "Don't keep your funds with any centralized/regulated custodian. We cannot protect you. Get your coins/cash out and only trade p2p," he tweeted. That sure sounds like an easy pivot, yet understanding how decentralized works requires a bit more knowledge and patience. A small token swap on Uniswap may cost hundreds of dollars in gas fees on Ethereum, which is again impractical for small traders. If the freedom convoy was to use such crypto proceeds for water, food, or materials to rally continued support—they'd need a customer and vendor to open their wallets and swap with each other. Inevitably, they'll still have to deal with the high fees and slow transaction speeds to make a successful trade.
Altcoins that have implemented technology to solve government tracking and fee issues remained relatively overlooked in the 2021 bull market. eCash, a previous fork from Bitcoin, implements larger blocks to virtually eliminate throughput scarcity. Privacy is available through the opt-in CashFusion protocol, upgraded in the latest release, which preserves supply auditability. eCash also has the same supply cap and low inflation characteristics as its predecessor, Bitcoin. The latest release of the eCash software also quietly turned every node into an Invisible Internet Project node, allowing users to participate in a separate, uncensorable, private layer of the internet. There are many other altcoins like Monero that claim to be "private cryptocurrencies" which can shield wallet addresses—yet higher inflation, poor auditability and ties to the darknet cast wariness for adoption and support.
The trucker's freedom convoy in Canada paved the way for an ambitious near-perfect case study for Bitcoin. But the government's successful interference of blacklisting wallet addresses exposed its flaws and the problems other altcoins still face. Bitcoin and Ethereum failed to overcome state opposition to their use in a crowdfunding campaign. Next time, we'll learn which cryptocurrencies can succeed.
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