This is an editorial opinion piece by Jessica Hodler, COO of Plan B Passport and co-host of “The Bittersweet Podcast.”
The world is accustomed to a centralized system that requires us to provide identification cards in order to open bank accounts, board planes, or even stay in hotels. But now, we have Bitcoin, a completely decentralized electronic protocol that allows anyone, anywhere to send safe money around the world without needing permission from anyone else.
There is a lot of debate in the Bitcoin community regarding the requirements for KYC versus non-KYC privacy and we will not specifically go into which path is better but will ask, What is KYC to get started?
‘know your customer’ or ‘know your customer’ requirements have been implemented in order to establish the legitimacy of a customer’s identity. Why did this start? It was intended to create a process of checks and balances that, in effect, ultimately strips people of their privacy and freedom to engage in whatever now requires identification.
Do KYC rules really guarantee strong boundaries?
Now, when we start talking about the idea of a passport – a booklet given to a person under the authority of a state that is allowed to enter and leave the country – it is important to note that the idea has not been around for that long. When you really think about it, the idea that you need a document authorized by a “commander” in order to travel the world is pretty outrageous. In fact, the entire system of modern border passport requirements came to fruition only about a century ago.
Passports and visas became essential travel documents after World War I. The 1920 League of Nations meeting in France laid the groundwork for universal passport standards, and thus, the fruits of standardized control. As bitcoin customers, we value money without permission, so what about unauthorized traffic? In many ways, people are born into this world and automatically become a human barcode, a number assigned as a slave to the current monetary system that exists today.
So, those who seek freedom of movement may be wondering, what really makes a border strong? One could say that strong boundary indicators include existing economic zones, infrastructure, military, GDP, unemployment rates, etc. However, what happens when people within those boundaries begin to have lower levels of trust in their governments? Does that begin to weaken the “strong frontiers”, regardless of the economies at home?
This brings us to November 1989 and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. This symbolized more than just the collapse of communism in Germany – it was the destruction of something that was preventing people from fleeing their country. As the “individual sovereign” says, “the fall of the Berlin Wall was not merely a symbol of the death of communism. It was a defeat of the entire global system of nation-states and a lift of efficiency and markets.”
It was an event that really demonstrated people’s ability to do when they finally had enough. The “sovereign individual” goes on to say that “the nation-state has become the most successful tool in history for the appropriation of resources. Its success was based on its superior ability to extract the wealth of its citizens.”
In the case of the United States, although it may not have actually built a wall, it has certainly put in place some “financial barriers” that would motivate the majority of its citizens to think twice before leaving. In 1995, an exit tax was proposed that would require Americans to pay large sums for their escape. Since its implementation, this tax has likely held many Americans hostage in their own country.
Fast forward to today, and we are witnessing another form of imprisonment all over the world. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other countries have banned their citizens from leaving due to certain medical decisions they decided not to make, and some people around the world are still unable to leave their countries to this day.
Not only were citizens unable to leave their countries, some were even taken to quarantine camps. If they do not have a second passport or other means of escape, they may be forced to remain in their countries and subject to authoritarian measures in place.
It’s not just people who are physically imprisoned, but these measures have now seeped into the online world. Censorship, suspension and possibly soon KYC requirements are being implemented on social media platforms. The world has turned into a politically correct “safe space,” where you need to make others feel like they are living in a warm, fuzzy bubble of their feelings, rather than being able to freely express their opinions.
Have you ever heard of the concept of “freedom of expression”? It doesn’t seem to be there much.
So, how can Bitcoin inevitably fix this? Bitcoin will eventually lead to smaller countries and the interoperability of judicial entities as it takes power out of the hands of governments and returns it to the hands of the people. It motivates people to go to places that offer better services, suit their needs and provide a higher quality of life, and it forces governments to work for the fruits of their labour.
Bitcoin is the freedom of the individual and it is time for the places we live to match that. Ultimately, we will live in a world where we are all citizens of Bitcoin.
This article is the first in a series inspired by the restrictions governments place on their citizens and the need for Bitcoin to dominate through unrestricted global travel. The next entry in this series explores how to increase your freedom in this reality, and find a way to change this system and make it work for you.
This is a guest post by Jessica Hodlr. The opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.