Coinbase: WikiLeaks calls for boycott of world’s biggest bitcoin brokerage

The whistleblowing organisation has raised millions of dollars through bitcoin donations over the years

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 24 April 2018 13:13
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WikiLeaks has called for a “global blockade” of Coinbase, after the world’s biggest bitcoin brokerage banned the whistleblowing organisation’s online store from using its service.

The organisation's official merchandising outlet said Coinbase blamed the suspension on US financial regulations, though it is not clear what violations took place — if any. A Coinbase spokesperson told The Independent: "To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not comment on individual accounts."

WikiLeaks announced on Twitter: “WikiLeaks will call for a global blockade of Coinbase next week as an unfit member of the crypto community."

“Coinbase, a large Californian bitcoin processor, responding to a concealed influence, has blocked the entirely harmless @WikiLeaksShop in a decision approved by management.”

The WikiLeaks Shop published a screenshot of a message that it claims to have received from Coinbase.

“Upon careful review, we believe your account has engaged in prohibited use in violation of our Terms of Service and we regret to inform you that we can no longer provide you with access to our service,” the message states.

“We respectfully request that you follow the on-screen instructions presented when you log into your Coinbase account to send any remaining balance offsite to an external address.”

WikiLeaks has accepted bitcoin donations to help support its platform and fund the legal costs of its founder, Julian Assange, who has spent almost six years in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

The organisation first began accepting cryptocurrency donations in 2010 after an extra judicial embargo by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal effectively cut financial support for WikiLeaks.

A bitcoin address used by WikiLeaks to accept donations has received more than 4,000 bitcoins, worth around £25 million at today’s prices.

The boycott comes a week after the New York Attorney General launched an investigation into Coinbase and 12 other major cryptocurrency exchanges.

The investigation could be a precursor for tighter regulation on bitcoin exchanges, as authorities attempt to ensure greater protections for their customers.

“With cryptocurrency on the rise, consumers in New York and across the country have a right to transparency and accountability when they invest their money,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

"Yet too often, consumers don’t have the basic facts they need to assess the fairness, integrity, and security of these trading platforms. Our Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative sets out to change that, promoting the accountability and transparency in the virtual currency marketplace that investors and consumers deserve.”

This article has been updated to include a comment from Coinbase.

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