An article came out today in the Wall Street Journal, citing cryptocurrency websites as the latest victims of China’s “Great Firewall.” Indeed, China is notorious for censoring everything from news about the alleged Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, way back in 1989, to the use of DropBox and other file-sharing services. But like everything else, if their desire is strong enough, the people will find a way around any such obstacles, and John McAfee has shared his thoughts on this subject.
Dropbox is not the only website blocked in China. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Gmail, Instagram, Netflix, Flickr, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are among its targets. As the saying goes, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and the same can be said for market forces. In the case of banned websites, the people of China have circumvented such centralized firewall attempts at censorship by the government through the use of VPNs.
There are numerous VPN and proxy services that can be purchased in many cases for less than $5 per month. These services will mask your IP address, routing traffic through their network to deliver content between otherwise blocked websites. Certainly there is a case to be made that some people who use such services have ill intentions, but much of the activity is innocent by nature. In the case of cryptocurrency exchanges and other websites being blocked by China, the use of VPN services is a modern case of civil disobedience when faced with the rules and regulations of an oppressive government that has little regard for the freedom of speech, the free flow of information and the free market.
John McAfee is arguably the most controversial figure in the crypto-community. He makes outlandish remarks that throw people off guard, and he publishes outlandish content that is shared across social media websites as fast as it’s published. But he also has insight into markets and human behavior that most people lack. Regarding the ICO ban in China, McAfee summed it up in a tweet, in which he also addressed the recent news of banks denying ICO and other cryptocurrency purchases made with their credit cards. He said, “China bans ICOs and cryptos but it can’t be enforced. Banks refuse ICO and crypto payments, but we have alternatives. Technology always overcomes legislation. This is truth. ICOs are our future and must be fought for, and crypto is our right. Stand on our side without fear.”
China bans ICOs and cryptos but it can’t be enforced. Banks refuse ICO and crypto payments, but we have alternatives. Technology always overcomes legislation. This is truth. ICOs are our future and must be fought for, and crypto is our right. Stand on our side without fear.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) February 5, 2018
Many people in government, specifically bureaucrats, have little concept for how the free market works. They tried to control the flow of dangerous drugs across borders, with the unintended consequence of making the problem worse, not better. They try to control markets through unnecessary regulations, raising the barrier to entry for smaller investors and companies to get a seat at the table while the whales continue to build their wealth. And they try to control the expansion of emerging markets within their borders when viewed as a threat, as in the case of China.
When demand is high, people will always find a way to gain access to their wants and needs. While some governments have at least taken steps to embrace blockchain technology, China continues to try and control it. In the end, they will lose.