Censorship resistance is still one attribute that seems to have an extreme importance. Before Bitcoin, online merchants were limited to centralized payment hubs, such as PayPal, who were able to prevent certain transactions from taking place over the Internet.
In 2011, Bitcoin donations enabled organizations like Wikileaks to easily receive donations. Online Black markets like Silk Road were also able to use the digital currency as a mean of exchange. Today, these two events still are the best illustrations of Bitcoin’s usefulness and the ability to present new solutions for old issues.
The recent limits placed on Voat’s PayPal account are the latest example of the payment company’s willingness to exert control over online commerce, or for example, when PayPal decided to shut down the account of Kim Dotcom’s cloud storage service, the well-known Mega.
Bitcoin has a way of bringing up the debate as to whether or not money is speech. After all, creating a Bitcoin transaction involves nothing more than sending a cryptographically signed message to the rest of the network.
Voat is a Reddit clone that has enjoyed a large amount of traffic lately due to the site’s policy to leave content uncensored as often as possible. After experiencing a peak in popularity, Voat saw their PayPal account permanently limited when this PayPal account was used for nothing more than donations.
Much like speech, there are going to be some transactions that people don’t like in a world of free and open digital transactions. To bring this back to a real-world example, it’s obvious that some people wanted to censor donations to Wikileaks back in 2011, and it would have worked if it hadn’t been for Bitcoin.
If we allow for the gates to censorship to be opened, we also open up the possibility that innocent individuals or organizations end up being censored or financially harmed.
Bitcoin has brought a new form of speech; one that let us support entities, individuals and organizations who fight for what’s right. So, it will be increasingly important to preserve Bitcoin’s immunity to censorship.