After saying last year that Bitcoin itself probably wouldn't exist in the long run, Edward Snowden appeared at the Bitcoin 2019 conference to discuss the ways that Bitcoin helps people in a world of increased surveillance.
Snowden: I Bought Servers with BTC to Protect Privacy
Snowden admitted that he had used the dominant cryptocurrency to pay for servers he then used to leak data years back, speaking via video call.
The lengthy talk touched a range of topics, including Bitcoin's association with criminals. Snowden pointed out that more criminals use the dollar.
Edward Snowden is most famous for leaking government secrets while working as a government contractor for the NSA. He turned over thousands of documents about government torture and data collection programs to journalists including Glenn Greenwald.
The hacker then executed a perfect getaway and currently remains in hiding in Russia.
During his talk, he spoke of the way that Bitcoin gives people power that governments have taken away. You can't freely send money around the world, he pointed out, but cryptocurrency brings that back.
"Today, you're allowed some free speech online, and the worst case, you're going to get kicked off of YouTube. You're going to kicked off of Twitter. This is a big level of interference, but it's happening from private companies, rather than governments. […] We can't do the same thing when we send money. […] Bitcoin is free money."
"Bitcoin is Free Money"
Snowden refers to "freedom" rather than the price, he notes.
An advocate for privacy, Snowden has rarely spoken on the subject of privacy coins like Monero or Zcash, which enable people to have many benefits of Bitcoin without disclosing their identity. He didn't use his talk at Bitcoin 2019 to talk about them either.
He did speak of privacy as a way to protect yourself, saying:
"Privacy is that thing that says you belong to you rather than society."
Late last year, Snowden declared that Bitcoin probably wouldn't last, although the blockchain would be here for a long time.
Snowden said that he believes that Bitcoin is a great idea, but doesn't think the current designs of cryptocurrency are going to work out long term. He said at the time:
"One day capital-B Bitcoin will be gone, but as long as there are people out there who want to be able to move money without banks, cryptocurrencies are likely to be valued."
There wasn't much of this talk during his Bitcoin conference appearance, however.
Maybe he's had a change of heart.