Back to the future. Coinbase has ceased providing Wikileaks Shop with any services, stating they are “legally obliged to implement regulatory compliance mechanisms.” Coinbase further says the Wikileaks Shop account:
“Has engaged in prohibited use in violation of our Terms of Service and we regret to inform you that we can no longer provide you with access to our service.”
Coinbase has made no public statement on the matter, while Wikileaks Shop said they did not provide “notice or explanation.”
The main Wikileaks account, with some five million followers, was more outspoken in calling for a global blockade:
“WikiLeaks will call for a global blockade of Coinbase next week as an unfit member of the crypto community.
Coinbase, a large Californian Bitcoin processor, responding to a concealed influence, has blocked the entirely harmless WikiLeaksShop in a decision approved by management.”
They did not respond to our request for elaboration on their claim of “concealed influence” at the time of publishing.
It is therefore unclear what exactly they mean by their statement, just as it is unclear what a “blockade” of Coinbase would be in the circumstances.
We take it to mean a boycott, but Britts won’t have much choice as Coinbase will soon be the only platform to provide instant fiat deposits and withdrawals.
USA, too, doesn’t really have an easier fiat pipeline than Coinbase. Which is presumably why Wikileaks used them, but it does highlight the need for greater competition in that area.
What service they were using exactly does remain unclear. Their website still shows they accept a number of coins, including many that Coinbase does not serve. So we’d think it is Coinbase’s main service of buying and selling bitcoins.
Something which suggests they have a bank account of sorts, therefore could presumably use other providers if they are willing to serve them.
Wikileaks itself does of course accept direct donations, but they do appear to be a bit biased, not adding ethereum since very recently, for example, and still not supporting bitcoin cash.
The whistleblowers platform does have a long history with bitcoin specifically. When Visa, MasterCard, and others, cut off services to Wikileaks during their height in 2010, PC World wondered whether bitcoin could come to the rescue.
Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s inventor, directly publicly pleaded with Wikileaks at the time to not accept bitcoin as he feared the government was raging and would have turned on the currency, but Wikileaks went ahead nonetheless.
By any reading of history, that is the direct reason and perhaps the only reason why Nakamoto left. Gavin Andresen, the “chosen” “successor,” was then called to the CIA.
What happened there exactly we don’t know, but presumably Andresen explained how bitcoin works and, you’d think, that one can’t in bitcoin just cut off service to someone.
Those monumental events have kind of set bitcoin’s evolution since then to where it is. The project, initially, was primarily a technology, or at least that’s the impression one gets from reading Nakamotos public comments from the time.
Wikileak’s acceptance of it, however, at such early stage and at such a delicate political period, kind of politicized bitcoin, and made the technological aspects sort of secondary.
Those two strands came head to head during the great debate or during the bitcoin “civil war,” but, just as in 2010, so too in 2017, the tech is secondary strand won.
So giving prominence to ethereum. The “smart” bitcoin. Which now commands a vast ecosystem where the “true” power of this technology is being applied in all sorts of spheres.