How Bitcoin points to the future of decentralized protest

Protests throughout the world, in Hong Kong, Chile, France, the Middle East and elsewhere, are embracing the principles and products of cryptocurrency—in many cases without even knowing it.

Today’s movements are made up of hundreds and thousands of protestors, groups of disparate individuals aligned around values and causes. The decentralized networks they’ve adopted—reliant on technology rather than leaders—could ensure their longevity. It could also permanently alter the geopolitical landscape.

In the same way, blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is reliant on decentralized networks.

But just how closely aligned are these leaderless movements with the similarly decentralized blockchain and cryptocurrencies? And what impact are they having on the adoption of decentralized principles—and, ultimately, on the price and perception of crypto?

No banking on blockchain

The Internet provides a backbone for 21st century rebellion, but is also its weakest link. 

The Swiss Army Knife for modern day protesters is the smartphone; a communications tool that’s also a camera, GPS and more besides. The killer app is private, encrypted social media and messaging apps such as Telegram, with its secret chat function.

These tools enable protestors to evade surveillance; form anonymous groups; post video footage; agree how and where to rally, and request additional supplies.

But, earlier this month, Iranian authorities showed how they can be defused. 

Mass demonstrations against petrol rises, the result of US sanctions, turned violent but were quickly diffused when Iran pulled the plug on Internet connectivity for over 90% of the country.

It’s not an easy thing to do. But regimes around the world, including those in Russia, have been busy retrofitting traditional private and decentralized networks with cooperation agreements, technical implants, or a combination of both, to give themselves more power over Internet access.

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