With the Canadian government planning to crackdown on the anti-mandate demonstrations across the country, there are calls for cryptocurrency holders to secure their assets by taking control of their private keys. One of such calls came from the managing director of Bitcoin Magazine, who goes by the username of CK_SNARKs in a tweet where he wrote:
“This is a reminder to withdraw all your Bitcoin off exchange today.”
However, the tweet generated a lot of controversy with some of the commentators asking how they would convert their digital assets to fiat if they stop using the exchanges.
This is a reminder to withdraw all your Bitcoin off exchange today.
— 37 Honk Honk Sats (@ck_SNARKs) February 15, 2022
Canadian Crackdown On Protesters
The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, had on Monday invoked the country’s Emergencies Act that gave the government sweeping powers in times of emergencies to take extraordinary actions. According to Trudeau, the invocation of the act became necessary to keep Canadians safe and protect the jobs of people.
Anti-mandate protests against vaccination or quarantine for truckers has entered its third week, with severe consequences for the economy. Trudeau, announcing the government’s decision to invoke the Act during a press briefing, said that the police would have access to “more tools” to arrest and detain protesters in the bid to protect critical infrastructure.
Also, Mr Tradeau’s Deputy, Chrystia Freeland, stated that the invocation would give banks sweeping powers to freeze the accounts of those identified to be part of the protests without recourse to court orders.
The press conference took place on Monday, a day after a hacker accessed and made public the data of contributors who donated to the cause of the truckers.
Chrystia Freeland said that 93,000 donations were made to the truckers through a crowdfunding platform, GiveSendGo. The crowdfunding effort raised some $8.4 million for the protesters.
The Crypto Connection
Even though GiveSendGo gives donors the option of donating anonymously, the platform’s hack showed the personal details of some of the donors. This included their names, addresses or locations. The donations which were mainly in digital currencies did not quite keep the donors’ identities secret, especially after the GiveSendGo hack.
The deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland said that the move is all about “following the money”. She added that the country would expand its anti-terrorism financing rules to encompass cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding platforms.
The ease with which governments could seize the funds of citizens could be the reason for the call by crypto influencers for users to take control of their private keys. Cryptocurrency exchanges are mostly subject to the jurisdictional regulations.
The implication of this is that the owners of digital assets placed in crypto exchanges could lose them or have them confiscated through an anti-crypto policy of the government such as what is happening with the Canadian protests.
The challenge that many crypto holders have with respect to moving their assets out of exchanges is that the level of adoption in most countries is not high enough to facilitate p2p transactions for everyday needs.
Even decentralized exchanges (DEXs) are not safe from crackdowns from governments as stated by @cryptokid2022.
“Let’s be real, even dex’s are not safe from a crackdown. This narrative about removing all coins of exchanges don’t make any sense”
It is obvious that unless people can use crypto in their everyday store, that the exchanges would continue to be relevant, even though they minify the purpose for which Bitcoin was invented.
Another issue that some users face is their inability to safeguard their private keys. Some users are more interested in convenience than security of their assets.
Trudeau Shifting Positions On Civil Liberty
It is interesting to note that Trudeau had given support to farmers protesting against the Indian government last year by blocking major highways. The Canadian prime minister had said during the New Delhi protests that:
“Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.”
When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern -Harper in 2005
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 23, 2012
Critics of the invocation of the Emergencies Act such as civil liberties groups in Canada and some opposition parties are of the opinion that the Act, enacted in 1988 was meant for a different scenario than a peaceful protest such as the anti-mandate demonstrations.
Before the announcement by Trudeau, the Quebec Premier, Francois Legault cautioned that invoking the Act could worsen the crisis. It is left to be seen if the Trudeau government will succeed since this is an uncharted territory for the government of Canada which is invoking the Act for the first time.
Featured Image: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
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