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Britcoin will bring in a new wave of financial censorship

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has a habit of copying China. Credit: Getty

June 30, 2023 - 1:15pm

The West continues to emulate the authoritarian tendencies of the Chinese state at a rapid clip. We copied various aspects of Xi Jinping’s Covid-19 pandemic response. Our police forces have begun rolling out facial recognition surveillance cameras. Now, it appears as though the introduction of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is next.

Since 2014, the People’s Bank of China has been trialling a CBDC, making it the first major economy to issue a government-backed digital currency. Countries around the world are now racing to do the same. This week the European Commission affirmed its commitment to the creation of a centralised digital euro, while a public consultation issued by the UK Treasury and the Bank of England is scheduled to close today.

A march towards digitalisation and the proliferation of private cryptocurrencies form the Treasury’s justification for these proposals. However, the case for a centralised digital currency has still not been fully made. Nor is it immediately apparent where a CBDC would fit into our existing financial ecosystem. What is clear, though, is that the introduction of a so-called “Britcoin” would constitute a major change to our society and could come at a cost to our civil liberties. 

Major financial institutions already have legal obligations to conduct due diligence checks on customers. But placing the state at the heart of our personal finances like this would open a Pandora’s box of new surveillance opportunities. A CBDC would work by recording financial transactions in a core ledger, and anyone with access to this ledger could see these transactions. Placed within an existing legal framework of counter-terror law, anti-money laundering regulations and investigatory powers law, generalised surveillance of our spending would be inevitable.

Experts have also pointed out that a CBDC could not work without the parallel introduction of some form of digital identity system, which in itself would present a raft of civil liberties issues. Pairing such a system with personal spending data would create a vast treasure trove of sensitive information ripe for financial surveillance and profiling. This would almost certainly lead to digital and financial inequality in our society, with the impact felt hardest by those at the fringes — including those without digital access or the right documentation such as the elderly, migrants and poorer people. 

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the possibility that a CBDC could be “programmable”. By its very nature, such a centrally administered digital currency could be manipulated and controlled like never before. Both the Treasury and the Bank of England have publicly stated that this is not their intention, but at other points they have contradicted such assurances by actively lauding the possibilities that programmability could bring. Speaking about the benefits of programmable digital currency in 2021, the Co-Chair of the Bank of England’s CBDC task force, Sir John Cunliffe said:

You could think, for example, of giving the children pocket money but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets. There’s a whole range of things that money could do — programmable money, as it’s called — which we can’t do with the current technology.
- Sir John Cunliffe

In the context of a project which in its infancy appears to lack the trust of the British people, this is a strange and far from reassuring analogy. 

In the same week in which Nigel Farage announced the sudden termination of his bank account, it is worth thinking about the rising spectre of financial censorship. The former MEP may be a polarising figure, but this tactic is increasingly being directed at groups on the Left and the Right by states and corporations alike. The relatively recent cases of Wikileaks and the Canadian truckers cast a concerning shadow.                                  

It’s time for a proper democratic debate on these proposals. Meanwhile, the emulation of crude digital authoritarianism must stop, or else the future for freedom in the UK will be bleak.


Mark Johnson is Advocacy Manager at Big Brother Watch.

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Steve White
Steve White
1 year ago

Hopefully people understand that Bitcoin is not a problem. It’s just a crypto-currency. It’s decentralized. The problem is that the technology behind it in the hands of central banks making government controlled digital currencies ike Britcoin. As the writer points out, CBDCs. They are indeed a huge threat. Just this week ECB President Christine Lagarde told us that Climate Change was the primary cause of inflation in the world, and because of this we need to move quickly to create infinite liquidity through a digital Euro
 
Her Davos master, Klaus “You Vil Eat Ze Bugz!” Schwab certainly expects to be able to control all aspects of our lives through your access to the trackable to the most minute level currency. You can count on AI flagging anything you do or buy that is out of line with their wills.
The thing is… Paris is on fire… Germany is headed into an economic depression… England is falling apart… In the US all the major cities are showing deep decline, the sign of an empire collapsing is her cities collapsing, and so what do we need?
Endless war with Russia… That’s the Biden admin and NeoCon focus… Next up is to convince Europe to support endless war with China, twist arms, blow up pipelines, bribe the right people, whatever you have to do to get the world to support this insane focus outward while domestically, where we all live falls apart… The managed decline seems to be on purpose. At the very least, we should understand that they just don’t care about us at all. They don’t care about human beings. We’re just something to be used, abused, discarded, destroyed. Useful or useless people…
To deny humans inherent value is not only cruel and evil, but it also is a denial of reality. Therefore I predict that things will not work out for them the way they think it’s going to. You can’t deny reality. Because there is a God who is above all, who moves in history, often through very weak looking means, yet the most powerful can not resist, or overcome His will. The more we operate as if thats not true, the more we’re in danger of running up against it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve White
Steve White
Steve White
1 year ago

Hopefully people understand that Bitcoin is not a problem. It’s just a crypto-currency. It’s decentralized. The problem is that the technology behind it in the hands of central banks making government controlled digital currencies ike Britcoin. As the writer points out, CBDCs. They are indeed a huge threat. Just this week ECB President Christine Lagarde told us that Climate Change was the primary cause of inflation in the world, and because of this we need to move quickly to create infinite liquidity through a digital Euro
 
Her Davos master, Klaus “You Vil Eat Ze Bugz!” Schwab certainly expects to be able to control all aspects of our lives through your access to the trackable to the most minute level currency. You can count on AI flagging anything you do or buy that is out of line with their wills.
The thing is… Paris is on fire… Germany is headed into an economic depression… England is falling apart… In the US all the major cities are showing deep decline, the sign of an empire collapsing is her cities collapsing, and so what do we need?
Endless war with Russia… That’s the Biden admin and NeoCon focus… Next up is to convince Europe to support endless war with China, twist arms, blow up pipelines, bribe the right people, whatever you have to do to get the world to support this insane focus outward while domestically, where we all live falls apart… The managed decline seems to be on purpose. At the very least, we should understand that they just don’t care about us at all. They don’t care about human beings. We’re just something to be used, abused, discarded, destroyed. Useful or useless people…
To deny humans inherent value is not only cruel and evil, but it also is a denial of reality. Therefore I predict that things will not work out for them the way they think it’s going to. You can’t deny reality. Because there is a God who is above all, who moves in history, often through very weak looking means, yet the most powerful can not resist, or overcome His will. The more we operate as if thats not true, the more we’re in danger of running up against it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve White
John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

In the case of Nigel Farage being denied access to numerous bank accounts for supposedly no reason (shall take him at his word), I think there will need to be safeguards for areas such as political views being protected. This isn’t like him being turned away from a small family-owned restaurant or a cinema, but this is something needed in order for him to live his life. Today it is him, tomorrow it could be anyone.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

In the case of Nigel Farage being denied access to numerous bank accounts for supposedly no reason (shall take him at his word), I think there will need to be safeguards for areas such as political views being protected. This isn’t like him being turned away from a small family-owned restaurant or a cinema, but this is something needed in order for him to live his life. Today it is him, tomorrow it could be anyone.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
1 year ago

The more middle men involved in a transaction (whether financial or informational), the more you cede control.
If you talk to me you can say what you want and I hear everything – including nuance. If you post on a platform for me to read, the platform can decide if and what I read.
If you pay me cash, I have the money and you have the good or service. If I pay by card, the card payment merchant set the rules and levy a cost of using a card; which you pay. If you rely on people paying by card, the card payment merchant can increase fees you have to pay or change the T&Cs. You have no control over the fee level. If the card payment merchant decides they don’t like your politics and refuse to provide a service, or “fine” you a sum, you have no come back, no say and reduced income.
If the Government controls how much money you receive, how and where you can spend it, how much it costs you to spend it or receive it and and what you can invest in, I can’t see it ending well.
Convenience comes at a cost. Always.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

If the Government controls how much money you receive, how and where you can spend it, how much it costs you to spend it or receive it and and what you can invest in, I can’t see it ending well.

Maybe. But what about social security payments for example? It’s well known that abusive partners take control of payments and use it for buying drink and drugs whilst bills and the rent don’t get paid. This technology could prevent that.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

If the Government controls how much money you receive, how and where you can spend it, how much it costs you to spend it or receive it and and what you can invest in, I can’t see it ending well.

Maybe. But what about social security payments for example? It’s well known that abusive partners take control of payments and use it for buying drink and drugs whilst bills and the rent don’t get paid. This technology could prevent that.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
1 year ago

The more middle men involved in a transaction (whether financial or informational), the more you cede control.
If you talk to me you can say what you want and I hear everything – including nuance. If you post on a platform for me to read, the platform can decide if and what I read.
If you pay me cash, I have the money and you have the good or service. If I pay by card, the card payment merchant set the rules and levy a cost of using a card; which you pay. If you rely on people paying by card, the card payment merchant can increase fees you have to pay or change the T&Cs. You have no control over the fee level. If the card payment merchant decides they don’t like your politics and refuse to provide a service, or “fine” you a sum, you have no come back, no say and reduced income.
If the Government controls how much money you receive, how and where you can spend it, how much it costs you to spend it or receive it and and what you can invest in, I can’t see it ending well.
Convenience comes at a cost. Always.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

“You could think, for example, of giving the children pocket money but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets. There’s a whole range of things that money could do — programmable money, as it’s called — which we can’t do with the current technology.”

But this would simply make the currency less useful and therefore less valuable. We already have things like voucher systems that can be spent only in certain ways, and the market places an emphatic discount on their real value compared with the nominal value they supposedly represent.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

“You could think, for example, of giving the children pocket money but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets. There’s a whole range of things that money could do — programmable money, as it’s called — which we can’t do with the current technology.”

But this would simply make the currency less useful and therefore less valuable. We already have things like voucher systems that can be spent only in certain ways, and the market places an emphatic discount on their real value compared with the nominal value they supposedly represent.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago

The Great Reset is nothing but a right wing conspiracy theory.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Yeah, but they love the conspiracies on here.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I was joking.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels
Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Yeah, but they love the conspiracies on here.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I was joking.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago

The Great Reset is nothing but a right wing conspiracy theory.