Campaigners Beat Censor With Blockchain Protest


An online battle is taking place in China between activists keen to spread word of their opposition to the government and official censors trying to wipe all traces of them from the internet.

But the activists have found a new weapon that the government is finding difficult to overcome – publishing their protests in a blockchain.

Although the Chinese government controls the world wide web within the country, the lack of control and regulation anyone has over the blockchain is becoming a major asset to protestors.

The problem for the Chinese authorities is that data published to the ethereum blockchain is impossible to change without the agreement of every user on the network.

Activists see this as a cheap way to beat censorship, as the transaction cost of publishing the blockchain is no more than 50 cents.

Rape allegations

The protest that highlighted ethereum as a tool for political activists is the tragic case of student Gao Yan.

In 1998, she accused a professor at Beijing University of rape before committing suicide.

In April 2018, another student tried to investigate the claim, but claims the university has tried to silence the allegations and intimidate her.

In response, she published a letter to the blockchain detailing her claims.

Her blogs and other postings have been scrubbed from the internet in China, but her protest letter remains on the blockchain.

Cryptocurrency experts believe that some governments with concerns about information published on a blockchain may try and declare the blockchain illegal.

Government can’t suppress blockchain

That won’t stop anyone elsewhere in the world viewing the data online but will stop circulation within the country by the authorities blocking the IP address.

The ethereum and bitcoin blockchains both allow the attachment of documents.

Other protests in China have harnessed the blockchain to publicise their campaigns – such as the pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong. The Beijing government has also tried to suppress them without success.

China is also researching a state-owned cryptocurrency that would give politicians control over the underlying blockchain, according to reports from the capital.

In 2016, developing blockchain technology was listed as a priority for the central bank.