After I changed jobs last September, I stopped doing a lot of digital activism. The break has been great, honestly. It’s hard to fight on NSA surveillance abuses, crackdowns on whistleblowers, and free speech violations for literally years at a time. It was in many ways easier to focus on strategy and the day-to-day challenges of keeping smart people happy in their jobs, coordinated in their work, and highly productive.
The one program area I kept in my docket was blockchain. I’ve published a bunch of different blog posts in the last few months exploring the collision of free expression and blockchain regulations:
Could Regulatory Backlash Entrench Facebook’s New Cryptocurrency Libra?
EFF and Open Rights Group Defend the Right to Publish Open Source Software to the UK Government
Why Outlawing Cryptocurrency Purchases by Americans is a Terrible Idea
Coin Center’s Report Explores Privacy Coins, Decentralized Exchanges, and the First Amendment
SEC’s Action Against Decentralized Exchange Raises Constitutional Questions
I also want to share a bit about why I’m interested in this issue, since my parents find it baffling.
My first job in consumer advocacy was at a scrappy but principled nonprofit called the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. In addition to writing consumer guides about protecting privacy and cataloguing data breaches by companies, we’d get questions from consumers who were struggling with privacy issues. People could literally call us up on the phone and say, “I’m having this horrible privacy problem, do you have any suggestions?” We’d point them to our guides, or to other nonprofits working in the space, or sometimes we’d explain how to file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency. A lot of the time, we’d just tell them how to find an attorney, or ask them if they’d be interested in talking to the press.
Continue reading “Why I’m So Persistently Intrigued by Blockchain”