When rumors began two years ago that the People’s Republic of China was thinking of shutting down crypto exchanges, we argued the image of this government handcuffing some of the smartest of this generation should be too much even for authoritarians.
As it happened it wasn’t the People’s Republic that gave us such images, but the land of the free, the Republic of the United States of America.
On April 9th 2019, the United States government charged with two years in prison Jacob Burrell-Campos, a 22 year old coder at Edge Wallet, former Airbitz.
His crime was to sell a relatively small amount of bitcoin, with the ostensibly independent judge – free America has “elections” and political appointments for the judiciary – saying this young man showed complete disregard without quite providing any evidence he did so.
An example, paraded in front of us all, by the free and accountable, “elected” bureaucracy that had another etherean shivering at the prospects of offering voluntary contractual agreements called options.
Unsatisfied with repression in their own land, they went off to charge a 26 year old based in Austria, Patrick Brunner, for offering the very criminal service of allowing individuals to trade stocks through bitcoin deposits.
The very sovereign Europe of course said nothing, with the unaccountable American bureaucracy going after even decentralized exchanges.
That’s not to mention the countless press releases shutting one innovative project after another because the people can not fund entrepreneurs. The rich have walled off that area for themselves with their “Securities” Acts written a century ago and enforced by their children.
Plebs should go serf 9 to 5 and if they dream of independence they should go beg billionaires for money with the devil’s bargain requiring the sale of the soul if necessary. Why do you think they have a skulls and bones society at Yale?
As unbearable as all of the above examples are, the one of Virgil Griffith is of a different level for he was perhaps the person in charge at the Ethereum Foundation after Buterin, who doesn’t really get involved, or the director, who gets involved even less.
Meaning from the outside looking in at the very secretive Ethereum Foundation, there’s no reason to not treat Griffith as the person in charge.
That they chose to make an example of such a high profile individual might show just how desperate and arguably just how incompetent they must be, in one reading, and how authoritarian they are, in another reading.
Obviously no one believes any of this has anything to do with enforcing any law. The right to free speech is enshrined in the very first amendment.
The technical excuse they have given is a bonus at best, or more probably a sweaty bit to justify the probable actual aim.
For all practical purposes, Griffith is now a hostage, threatened with decades in prison, unless…
What? Well, there’s plenty of uses for such skill in an authoritarian government for which no one wants to work for. Why bother hiring experts voluntarily when you can enslave them under some excuse.
It is in May that the ethereum site was redesigned and suddenly showed no longer the canary.
Before then it was proudly standing in yellow at the footer for years, but suddenly it vanished.
For long the Ethereum Foundation has been asked by the public to redesign the website and update it, and for long they had put it off.
Then suddenly they present… well it’s not a website. It’s something thrown up in an afternoon. The lack of canary so compounded by the visuals canary itself.
When this was brought up in social fora, it was pointed out the canary was still on the Ethereum Foundation website.
That website had a very subtle canary before May 9th 2019. At the very bottom, at first look there is no canary, but when you hover it shows.
That was the last archive before it was changed, so it would have been changed on or around May 9th.
The change itself can be seen as a canary. All the content that was there vanished. All that was left was the canary bird.
A canary, as you may know, is not some rule or some if/then. It’s the making of a sound or a movement that indicates there has been a change.
It’s a very subtle communication of something that you can’t communicate explicitly. It’s a way of saying something happened by doing something to the canary.
In this case that something in May coincides with Griffith’s presentation which was around the end of April.
Meaning one has to assume the US authorities have contacted the Ethereum Foundation and have demanded they do not reveal such contact and that the Ethereum Foundation does not think such request is proper or ordinary or legitimate.
That might not be the case, but looked holistically it seems quite difficult to escape the conclusion that the United States government has interfered. Something which can then give a reasonable explanation for the muted response of the Ethereum Foundation.
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