All eyes are on Canada. Our northern neighbor’s crackdown against anti-COVID-19 mandate "Freedom Convoy" protesters continues to escalate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has even invoked emergency powers.
But things just took an unexpected turn.
The Canadian government is even trying to stop people from funding the protests. It's using emergency powers to crack down on crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. And now Trudeau is going after cryptocurrency donations being sent to some truckers. The goal here is simple: The government wants to cut off the protesters from money and stop people from funding a cause the government dislikes.
If that sounds grossly authoritarian, that’s because it is.
This is the latest escalation in what some call "financial censorship," or governments colluding with or pressuring financial institutions to squash dissenters and disfavored speech. Yet Canada’s disturbing attempted crackdown may actually end up proving just how valuable Bitcoin can be as a means of resisting financial censorship.
"Every attempt at financial censorship is a marketing campaign for Bitcoin," the hugely popular Bitcoin influencer Anthony Pompliano recently argued on his Substack. "Bitcoin is censorship-resistant money. No one can prevent you from sending it to anyone else. No one can confiscate it from you without your permission. No one can debase the currency."
Well, there is no centralized authority or company that controls the cryptocurrency. There is no Bitcoin HQ. This stands in contrast to something like GoFundMe, which does, in fact, have one company in control that the government can lean on to shut something down.
"If the Freedom Convoy raised money through a censorship-resistant currency, no one could have taken those funds from them," Pompliano concluded.
However, there’s a catch. Bitcoin is only censorship-resistant under certain conditions.
If you hold your Bitcoin through common third-party exchanges such as Coinbase, then there is still a central authority that could be coerced to confiscate funds. This is why a popular saying has emerged in the online cryptocurrency community: "not your keys, not your crypto."
Basically, you must have a noncustodial wallet — hold your own "keys" — to ensure that your Bitcoin cannot fall victim to financial censorship. This isn’t as easy or convenient as using a third-party exchange, but Bitcoin die-hards think it’s absolutely worth the extra effort.
"If you hold Bitcoin in the correct way, meaning taking full ownership, taking self custody, your money cannot be taken," Bitcoin influencer and author of Undressing Bitcoin Layah Heilpern told me. "Bitcoin is censorship-resistant. I've had my funds frozen before because banks don't like crypto. As a result, I use my Bitcoin to keep my company going and keep everyone paid."
So Bitcoin does indeed offer Canadians a way to outwit their authoritarian government’s attempts at financial censorship—if they use it properly.
The public should be closely following these developments. Because if you think the U.S. government would never do something similar, you’re not paying close enough attention.