NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Comments on Bitcoin’s Intrinsic Value and Popularity


Edward Snowden, who is well-known as a whistleblower, recently discussed bitcoin in an interview with McSweeney’s. During the interview, he explained that he considers distributed ledger technology to be a “new kind of database” that does not allow for manipulation. He also stated that such technology is what comprises of bitcoin’s intrinsic value.

In his words, “Imagine that instead of today’s world, where publicly important data is often held exclusively at GenericCorp LLC, which can and does play God with it at the public’s expense, it’s in a thousand places with a hundred jurisdictions. There is no take down mechanism or other “let’s be evil” button, and creating one requires a global consensus of, generally, at least 51 percent of the network in support of changing the rule.”

Additionally, Snowden stated that the a “large population” sees bitcoin as a form of money. He also took a critical stance of fiat currency, stating “what makes a little piece of green paper worth anything? If you’re not cynical enough to say ‘men with gun,’ which are the reason legal tender is treated different from Monopoly money, you’re talking about scarcity and shared belief in the usefulness of the currency as a store of value or a means of exchange.”

Concerning gold, Snowden explained that it is worth a lot, but is limited in practical value. However, many agree that gold is worth more than practical value. And that cryptocurrencies are similar to gold because they have “very limited fundamental value” and that “at most, it’s a token that lets you save data into the blocks of their respective blockchains, forcing everybody participating in that blockchain to keep a copy of it for you.’

He continued that cryptocurrencies are valuable because a large population believes it to be. So long as there are those who are interested in managing funds without banking institutions, bitcoin will be valuable.

Lastly, Snowden discussed mining, stating that “the reward for winning a round, once worth mere pennies, is now one hundred thousand dollars, making it economically reasonable for people to divert enormous amounts of energy, and data centers full of computer equipment, toward the math – or ‘mining’- contest. Town-sized Godzillas of computation are being poured into this competition, ratcheting the difficulty of the problem beyond comprehension.”

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