A government can’t stop transactions on decentralized systems, but those systems can’t stop them either.
Despite the government’s orders, cryptocurrency linked to Canadian truckers protesting COVID-19 limitations has been moving.
According to Blockchain.com, nearly all of the $788,000 in Bitcoins sent to a Tallycoin fundraiser has been spent. There is only 0.11 BTC.
Most of the 30 bitcoin wallets identified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as being linked to the fundraising have also been drained. They have only 6 BTC between them.
As far as whether the recipients will be able to use the money to buy goods or services, that’s still up in the air.
Two centralized exchanges, Coinbase and Crypto.com, seized four minor sections of the roughly 20 bitcoin raised, according to CoinDesk’s audit. These exchanges stole roughly 0.14 BTC from each fund. They don’t know if the money was converted to cash or froze on the platforms.
A government can’t stop decentralized, censorship-resistant networks from transacting, but they can’t stop them either.
But while the government can’t ban Bitcoin or other network transactions, it has a lot of control over the corporations that connect to them.
About ‘honk honk’
Thousands of Canadians took to the streets recently to protest vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions. Dozens of trucks clogged Ontario roadways and border crossings, causing traffic jams and economic issues.
Ottawa, the capital of the country, was almost under siege. On February 14, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the Emergencies Act for the first time since it was passed in 1988. This was to get the trucks and protesters out of the way and end the weeks of chaos. It says that the government and banks can freeze money and accounts linked to people who are protesting without a court order or review process.
191 people have been arrested and 107 people have been charged with obstructing police, disobeying a court order, assaulting a police officer or having a weapon, according to CNN. Police forces from across the country were able to work together to dismantle the convoy in Ottawa and other cities.
Like bank wires, transactions on blockchains that aren’t controlled by anyone can’t be stopped or frozen. This happens when the smart contract for a non-native asset, like an ERC-20 token on Ethereum, lets the issuer freeze certain addresses and stop all transactions, like Tether has done several times. This is an exception, though.
They can only ban particular addresses and require regulated crypto providers to freeze any cash arriving from them, but not let the money out of their custodial wallets. This is because any one person or group does not control Bitcoin.
Tracking Down the Funds Through Coinbase
On February 16, Canadian police told all regulated financial firms to stop working with 34 wallets linked to the protesters. The Globe and Mail in Canada did not specify which banks and crypto exchanges received the letter.
The money split up and transmitted to controlled exchanges Coinbase and Crypto.com that night, blockchain evidence shows. Tallycoin’s fundraising address paid 14.28 BTC to 101 addresses in 0.14 BTC increments.
People who live near the protest started a separate legal fight on February 17. Ontario Superior Court issued an injunction freezing 120 bitcoin addresses associated to the movement on that day. The platforms should stop the money from transferring if they got it from the addresses on this list. The addresses were provided to the court via a Mareva injunction, a sort of asset freeze.
There was a Mareva injunction that said about mentioning the sender’s address, but it wasn’t on the earlier list from the Canadian police.
On February 17 and 18, four addresses on the Mareva injunction list transmitted 0.14 BTC each to Coinbase (1, 2) and Crypto.com (1, 2), either directly or through other addresses. It’s not clear if people were able to sell the funds for money at these platforms.
Ian Plunkett, Coinbase’s global policy communications director, told CoinDesk that the business had no information regarding specific transactions or accounts. He directed CoinDesk to a blog post by the exchange’s CEO on its rules for deleting users’ accounts.
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