Is Bitcoin Financing America's Radical Right Wing?
Political movements typically rely on public and private donations, but a new report in the Washington Post suggests that Bitcoin -- the hot cryptocurrency so much in the news lately -- is enabling right-wing and alt-right extremist groups.
According to the report, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is tracking an estimated 200 Bitcoin wallets owned by right-wing extremists. Researchers in the report say they’ve specifically seen an increase in people on the far right moving their assets into the digital currency, and using it "for ordinary business purposes.”
“Bitcoin is allowing people in the movement to go beyond cash in an envelope or a check,” Heidi Beirich, head of the Intelligence Project at the SPLC, told the Post. “It’s really a godsend to them.”
According to SPLC research, 14.88 bitcoins were paid to Andrew Anglin, editor of the Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi online publication. The transaction was made on Aug. 20, according to the report, when Anglin was “scrambling” to recover from his publication having been evicted from multiple web-hosting services. The number 14.88 is an apparent reference to a Nazi slogan that is 14 words long and also to the use of 88 as a code for "Heil Hitler." (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.) That amount of bitcoins was reportedly worth around $60,000 at the time. The payment was made by an anonymous source, according to cybersecurity researcher John Bambenek, who tracks Bitcoin transactions.
Anglin, in a phone interview, confirmed to the Post that he uses Bitcoin almost exclusively. “Bitcoin has helped out a lot,” he said.