HRF, the New York-based nonprofit that promotes and protects human rights globally, has launched a fund to support Bitcoin developers who make the Bitcoin network more private, decentralized and resilient. The first grant, worth close to $50,000, has been gifted to London-based Bitcoin developer Chris Belcher to realize an implementation of his CoinSwap protocol. A second grant of the same size will be announced soon.
“At the moment, the Bitcoin network is improving but is far from as usable and private as it needs to be with authoritarianism and surveillance on the rise in many countries,” said Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation. “With more support, developers like Chris can make it possible for activists to receive donations and continue their important work under increased pressure.”
A Grant to Make Bitcoin More Private
The Human Rights Foundation was founded in 2005 by Venezuelan film producer and human rights advocate Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, and is currently chaired by Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. It has been a strong advocate for Bitcoin and its privacy features for some time, with Gladstein in particular frequently promoting the digital currency as a financial tool for human rights activists, civil society organizations and journalists living under oppressive regimes.
“Human rights defenders and reporters around the world face increasing financial repression in the form of frozen bank accounts, restrictions on foreign funding, payment surveillance and general difficulty in earning income or receiving donations,” Gladstein said. “Bitcoin can be a powerful tool for them to use moving forward alongside encrypted messaging apps like Signal and projects like Tor Browser and SecureDrop.”
The Human Rights Foundation was contacted last week by a private individual…