Speaking to a captivated audience at the 2023 Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. integrated Bitcoin into his campaign platform, arguing that the cryptocurrency must be protected from “invasive surveillance.” Kennedy expressed concerns regarding the growing control governments and corporations have on people’s lives due to advancing technology.
Drawing on the example of the 2022 trucker protest in Ottawa, Canada, Kennedy cited the Canadian administration’s use of surveillance and data tracking systems to block protestors from accessing their bank accounts. He explained how this example proved the importance of free money in securing freedom.
Kennedy also criticized President Joe Biden’s proposed 30% tax on energy use for Bitcoin miners, saying it would necessitate a highly invasive surveillance system to monitor energy consumption. Although the Biden Administration justified this tax by highlighting the energy consumed by cryptocurrency mining, Kennedy argued that it sets a dangerous precedent for governmental involvement in electricity use. He went on to support people’s right to refuse smart meters in their homes.
Already a vocal opponent of a US central bank digital currency (CBDC) and an advocate against the US government’s “war on crypto,” Kennedy promised to protect the right to hold and use Bitcoin as President. Furthermore, he pledged to defend the right of self-custody and uphold the ability to run a private node.
Kennedy emphasized that Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements should not be imposed at the level of individual nodes, but rather at banks and exchanges. He argued that the government does not have the right to demand access to anyone’s Bitcoin key or passwords—maintaining otherwise would be conceding essential territory to the surveillance state.
According to Kennedy, the cornerstone of Bitcoin is its decentralized nature. He underscored the importance of decentralized systems for not only cryptocurrencies but for democracy as a whole.
While Kennedy’s endorsement of Bitcoin may trigger an increase in its adoption, it can also raise concerns regarding the potential misuse of cryptocurrency for illicit activities—a topic that continues to be hotly debated. Furthermore, ongoing debates around energy consumption and the environmental impact of mining cryptocurrencies, especially proof-of-work blockchains like Bitcoin, emphasize the ongoing challenges faced by this emerging technology.