There can be no doubt that tech is empowering the individual. From securing our email and keeping our digital correspondence safe from government surveillance through encryption, to blockchain being used to ensure that elections are protected against government corruption, tech is restoring the balance of power between us and the state.
But as great as things may appear to be getting, it is important to remember that when we are up against a foe as formidable as the state, we must practice constant vigilance. And the latest Bitcoin news to come out of China is a perfect example of what we are up against.
The Chinese Crypto Community Gets Dealt a Blow
According to the Managing Director of Dhanua Capital, a California-based venture capital fund, Dovey Wan, the Chinese government just gave an official order to ban all cryptocurrency related commercial activities. A ban on all crypto trading and exchanges was already put into effect earlier this summer. When the first bans went into place, the Chinese government expressed concerns over the crypto world merging with the world of finance and insisted that only government-issued currency is permitted. But this new ban takes things even further.
Rather than restricting actual cryptocurrency transactions, this new ban prohibits the spreading of information related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. WeChat, one of China’s most popular messaging apps, has already been asked to terminate the accounts of crypto news outlets. Within the first few days of the new rules going into effect, eight crypto news outlets had had their accounts closed on WeChat. The Cyberspace Administration of China cited a violation of new policies as the primary reason.
The new rule came as a result of the Cyberspace Administration’s “Temporary Regulations on the Development and Management of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools” guidelines, which were instituted in early August.
These new rules are completely dystopian in nature and seek to control the actions of individuals as is evidenced by an excerpt taken from the new law, which reads:
“Users of instant messaging tools serving in public information service activities shall abide by relevant laws and regulations. For instant messaging service users who violate the agreement, the instant messaging service provider shall take measures such as warning, restriction, suspension, and closure until the account is closed, and save the relevant records and fulfill the obligation to report to the relevant competent authority.”
WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, stated that the accounts were shut down because they were “suspected of publishing information related to ICOs [initial coin offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.” The new rule forces private messaging services, like WeChat, to comply and also sites “national interests” as a reason for the new crackdown.
The Fight Continues
Many of us believe, and rightfully so, that blockchain and cryptocurrencies can help individuals maintain a balance of power with the government. But China’s attempts to block not only blockchain-related activities but actual news and information is downright terrifying. But it is also a sign that governments truly fear the potential blockchain and cryptocurrencies hold for a decentralized future.
It is likely that China will not be the only government to take such extreme measures against crypto-related activities, but just because we receive pushback from the powers that be does not mean we should abandon our quest altogether.