The recent surge in the use of cryptocurrencies has brought about a concerning trend – the use of these digital assets by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to fundraise for their hateful activities. A report from the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism has highlighted how domestic extremists are leveraging major online exchange companies to send and receive cryptocurrency with almost no restrictions or oversight.
The ADL’s report identified several instances of fundraising for white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, as well as extremist propaganda outlets, using major cryptocurrency exchanges. The report shed light on the activities of groups such as the Goyim Defense League, NSC-131, and the National Socialist Movement, along with platforms like Counter-Currents and Radio Albion.
One striking revelation from the report is that while many mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges are being used by extremists to move funds, only one of these service providers has an explicit policy banning the funding of hateful or extremist activity. This raises concerns about the lack of proactive measures to curb the exploitation of cryptocurrency for funding extremist agendas.
The ADL’s findings underscore the need for greater scrutiny and regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges to counter the financing of hate and extremism. Many of these groups had previously been subject to deplatforming on social media and payment apps, and the report suggests that similar measures should be applied to cryptocurrency exchanges.
Cryptocurrency experts also warn of an increase in transactions from known extremists, emphasizing that extremists, terrorists, and criminals are increasingly turning to cryptocurrency exchanges for raising and transferring funds. However, it remains challenging to discern the specific purposes for which these funds are ultimately being utilized.
As hate crimes and acts of hatred continue to surge, the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, has called for the development of policies by cryptocurrency exchanges to counter the financing of hate and extremism. He also urged regulators to provide guidance to the industry to dismantle the financial infrastructure that fuels extremist agendas.
The use of cryptocurrency as a safe haven for white supremacists and other extremists gained prominence after internet payment processors cracked down on extremist activities following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Far-right agitators have argued that such actions violate their free speech rights, leading to a shift towards cryptocurrency as a means to evade traditional financial controls.
The exploitation of cryptocurrency for funding extremist activities underscores the urgency for comprehensive measures to address this pressing issue. With cryptocurrencies offering a level of anonymity and ease of transfer, regulatory bodies and cryptocurrency exchanges must work together to prevent the misuse of digital assets for promoting hate and violent extremism.Cryptocurrency and Extremism: How Digital Currency is Fueling Hate Groups
The use of cryptocurrency by extremist groups in the United States is a rising concern, as revealed in a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The report sheds light on the ways in which these groups are leveraging digital currency to fund their activities and promote hate speech.
According to the report, extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and white supremacists, have increasingly turned to cryptocurrency exchanges to facilitate financial transactions. Unlike traditional banking systems, which offer some level of privacy for individual account holders, cryptocurrency accounts operated by these groups openly solicit and transfer funds, thereby allowing for greater visibility into their financial activities.
The ADL report highlights the use of cryptocurrency in soliciting contributions, with extremist groups publicly disclosing their cryptocurrency “wallet” identities, making it possible to track the money they receive and transfer. Some groups even provide instructions to their donors on how to use almost-untraceable cryptocurrencies like Monero to avoid scrutiny.
While the specific dollar amounts tracked in the report represent only a fraction of the total cryptocurrency market, the ADL notes that some extremists are believed to possess substantial wealth, with one cybersecurity expert suggesting that some individuals within these groups may be “sitting on millions.”
The report also identified specific cryptocurrency exchanges used by extremist groups, with the largest amount being moved through the Kraken exchange. However, both Kraken and Coinbase, when approached for comment, emphasized their safeguards against money laundering and terrorist financing but did not have specific policies addressing hate speech or extremist activity.
The use of cryptocurrency by these groups has raised concerns about the challenges of tracking and verifying the identities of account holders, as well as the difficulty in gauging the scope and value of transactions fueling illicit activities or extremist groups.
Experts argue that tighter regulation and stricter oversight by regulators are crucial in disciplining the cryptocurrency ecosystem, including mainstream exchanges, to prevent their exploitation for illicit financial transactions by users who wish to avoid traditional financial channels.
The issue of extremist groups using cryptocurrency highlights the need for increased attention on the intersection of digital currency and hate groups. It also underscores the importance of proactive measures by cryptocurrency exchanges and regulatory authorities to address the potential misuse of digital currency by these groups.
The findings of the ADL report serve as a reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by the exploitation of emerging technologies by extremist organizations and the need for robust regulatory frameworks to mitigate these risks.The use of cryptocurrency by domestic extremists and hate groups has been a growing concern for law enforcement and regulatory bodies. A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) highlighted how neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremist groups have been utilizing cryptocurrency as a means to raise funds and operate beyond government oversight.
One notorious example is the Daily Stormer, an online publication known for its extremist content, which was an early adopter of cryptocurrency. Similarly, Stormfront, another hate website, states on its homepage that Bitcoin is its “preferred payment method” for donations. The ADL report notes that part of the appeal of cryptocurrency for these groups is the misconception that it operates outside the control of the banking system, which feeds into antisemitic tropes falsely claiming that the banking industry is “Jewish-controlled.”
In addition to using cryptocurrency for fundraising, domestic extremists have also turned to video streaming sites like Odysee and DLive, which have cryptocurrency-based revenue systems, to solicit and collect donations amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These platforms operate largely outside of government oversight, providing a space for extremist groups to generate income without facing immediate repercussions.
The report also points out the role of cryptocurrency exchanges in facilitating these activities. While some exchanges may not explicitly condone extremist behavior, they have been criticized for taking a hands-off approach and adopting a libertarian mindset of distancing themselves from the responsibility of monitoring and regulating the content of transactions on their platforms. Without concrete evidence of criminal activity, the exchanges often refrain from taking action, allowing extremists to continue using their services for fundraising purposes.
This lax approach has drawn attention from regulators and lawmakers. In the wake of a series of criminal charges and lawsuits against crypto executives and major industry players, there is a growing push to tighten regulations governing the cryptocurrency industry. Recent cases, such as the money laundering violations pleaded guilty to by the founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, have intensified the call for stricter oversight.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, has been leading efforts to crack down on cryptocurrency’s potential involvement in money laundering, drug trafficking, and sanctions evasion. The Treasury Department has also called on the industry to collaborate with the government in preventing illicit activities by criminal organizations, terrorists, and rogue states.
In response to the escalating scrutiny, the cryptocurrency industry has taken a proactive stance, particularly in anticipation of the 2024 elections. Three super PACs backed by industry executives and investors have announced that they raised $78 million to support candidates favorable to the cryptocurrency sector.
As the debate around cryptocurrency and its potential misuse by extremist groups continues, there are growing calls for increased regulatory measures to mitigate the risk of cryptocurrency being exploited for illicit activities. With domestic extremists continuing to leverage the anonymity and decentralized nature of cryptocurrency to garner financial support, the need for greater oversight and accountability within the cryptocurrency industry has become a pressing concern for policymakers and advocacy groups.