This Week on Crypto Twitter: Criticism for Canada’s Emergency Measures and Coinbase’s


Illustration by Mitchell Preffer for Decrypt

The prices of most top cryptocurrencies barely moved this week, with anxious traders across the globe making fewer bets as tension builds along the Russia-Ukraine border.

But North American Crypto Twitter was ablaze with domestic issues, chiefly the Canadian government’s forceful reaction to anti-vaccine mandate protestors, and Super Bowl ads that featured crypto.

Oh, Canada

One of the hottest topics this week was Canada’s use of the 1998 Emergencies Act to try to cut funding to a “Freedom Convoy” of truckers who’ve been protesting vaccine mandates for three weeks in downtown Ottawa.

After the group’s GoFundMe donations were blocked by the Canadian government, they turned to crypto and amassed over $700,000 in Bitcoin from 4,877 donors, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Kraken CEO Jesse Powell.

The swiftly taken emergency measures, which affect crypto transactions, have been perceived by many as authoritarian for lacking due process.

On Wednesday, a photographed letter circulated via Twitter showed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police had ordered crypto exchanges to “cease facilitating any transactions” tied to certain wallets, and to report any information or transactions linked to those wallets.

That same day, James Melville, founder of the marketing consultancy East Points West, tweeted data that appeared to show an extremely high upsurge of reported outages at Canadian banks over just a few hours.

The following day, Powell sharply criticized Canadian authorities, tweeting, in part: “Due process is for plebs. Might makes right in Canada. … No need to debate the law, policy or even rights when you have a monopoly on violence.”

A Twitter user who goes by @degderat asked Powell about the possibility of Kraken getting “told to freeze assets by police without judicial consent.” Powell’s reply was frank: “100% yes it has/will happen and 100% yes, we will be forced to comply.”

Later that evening, the Ontario Superior Court Judge issued an order to freeze millions of dollars in funds, including Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a measure that stretches around the globe, effectively telling convoy leaders, members and fundraisers that they’re restrained from “selling, removing, dissipating, alienating, transferring” any assets donated toward the protests.

Bitcoin Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVI a week ago featured ads from heavyweight crypto companies, including Crypto.com, Coinbase, and FTX. We covered Crypto Twitter’s initial reactions on Monday. 

FTX and Crypto.com relied on star power, with the former featuring comedy legend Larry David and the latter going with Lebron James.

But Coinbase’s ad stole the show. A QR code bounced around onscreen for a whole minute—when scanned, it took that phone’s user to Coinbase’s website, where new customers were offered $15 in free Bitcoin. At least, in theory. According to Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch, 20 million people piled onto the website in the space of a minute, causing it to crash.   

Whistleblower Edward Snowden was among the critics.

And Twitter user Gary Saliba (@tipsherany) was only half kidding when he posted: “Just wait until people realize how easily this could have been turned into a coordinated trojan cyber attack.”

Doug Barbin (@DougBarbin), chief growth officer at a cybersecurity audit firm, similarly tweeted: “As millions take out their phones and thousands of #cybersecurity professionals die a slow death.”

After several replies to Barbin, saying they didn’t quite understand the risk, IT specialist Klaus Frank (agowa338) put it in no uncertain terms: “On phones qr codes can do a lot of other things. Depending on the app the action is immediate. E.g. connect to wifi, call phone number, open the map at a specific location, …”

Decrypt previously has reported on hackers using QR codes.

https://decrypt.co/93363/crypto-twitter-criticism-canadas-emergency-measures-coinbases-super-bowl-spot

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