I made a feature proposal on Minds.com recently, suggesting to the developers of the platform to add a channel store / shopping cart feature so people can buy / sell digital content / merchandise / services and make / accept payments with Payoneer / Stripe / Bitcoin / Ether / Altcoins.
Another user expressed his opinion to this by stating that this may lead to another Silk Road scenario or that removing illegal content is a censorship-like action. I replied that Minds.com isn’t a ‘no-rules’ website. Minds is the property of a private company that has to obey the laws of the countries in which they operate. Not accepting illegal content on the website isn’t ‘policing’. Silk Road was somenthing completely different. .onion sites are something completely different.
Some eCommerce sites block certain users from certain countries, analyzing their IP’s, from buying certain products that are listed on their sites, if those products are illegal in those users countries. Some eComm sites don’t do this. That doesn’t mean that the buyers on their sites don’t have to know and obey their local laws.
Someone in Italy can buy magic mushrooms from a website that is owned by a company registered in Netherlands, country in which it is legal to sell those mushrooms. But that doesn’t mean that the buyer from Italy isn’t required to know/obey the law in Italy that says that in Italy it is illegal to buy, sell, grow, have, consume, etc. magic mushrooms.
Once that person from Italy has hit that Checkout out button and made an online payment to that site for those mushrooms, he legally became the owner of those mushrooms, thus he became a criminal in Italy. He could be arrested right then if the Italian police knew about what he did. And, in theory, once the package with the mushrooms arrives at the customs borders of Italy, it would be detected as containing an illegal thing in Italy and it would be confiscated by the authorities. In theory.
People that want censorship-free websites should look into and try decentralized websites and apps built using blockchain. They are kinda like sites that host torrent files. Of, course, you as a user of that site are still required to know and obey the laws in your country that specify what you are allowed to do on the internet.
You’ll still become a criminal and can be arrested if you are a german citizen and you write on a social media site built on blockchain that the Holocaust didn’t happen, which is forbidden by law to be said in Germany. The site won’t be able to delete your post but it still could be harrased by the German authorities, like the website that sells mushrooms from the previous example could be harrased by the Italian authorities. The authorities won’t be able to legally do much against the owners of the site.
But of course, the world is how it is, and in the end we know that the authorities can do whatever the fuck they want with anybody. If they decide to abuse and bend the laws, like they did in the case of Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht or like in the case of the owners of Pirate Bay or Megaupload, they can do it. There is nobody to stop them because they are the law. They can find ways to close any website, regardless of the technology that is used to operate it, if they want to.
In the end, there can’t exist a true censorship-free website as long as there is a group of people that can decide (and impose that decission by force) what you as an individual can and cannot do when you use the internet. For the moment, there are only levels of how much censorship there is on a site, depending on what technology is used to run that site and what are the intentions of the owners of the site. If the owners are more on the libertarian side of things, less censorship on their site, if the owners want to make money and want to maximize profits (Zuckerberg and the like), more censorship.
The more rules you obey, the more money you are allowed to make.
In this talk “Blockchain vs. Bullshit – Thoughts on the Future of Money,” Andreas outlines the necessary criteria that will help you distinguish blockchains from bullshit, and why the goal of developing this technology should not be “banking the unbanked” but rather de-banking all of us.
This keynote talk took place at the Blockchain Africa Conference on March 2nd 2017 at the Focus Rooms in Johannesburg, South Africa.