Cryptocurrency is a human rights issue, explains Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation.
Since launching a decade ago, the decentralized, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency bitcoin has been lauded (and denounced) for its potential to route around traditional state-based monetary systems and allow individuals to trade directly with one another.
Much of the discussion has understandably focused on how it is transforming economic exchange. But Alex Gladstein, the chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and protects civil liberties in closed societies, is interested in how it empowers people in autocratic countries to escape government control. Only about 8 percent of global transactions use cash and the switch to digital payments means that authorities can track what individuals are up to with greater ease than they used to.