Project Spartacus: An Act of Solidarity For Julian Assange

This text is featured in Bitcoin Journal’s “The Inscription Problem”. Click on right here to get your Annual Bitcoin Journal Subscription.

Bitcoin has for many of its lifetime been seen as a financial community, whereby customers can ship and obtain the native token BTC. Given the great worth appreciation since its inception in 2009, the financial good additionally grew to become a retailer of worth — a method by which somebody might retailer their precious work hours in order to not have them debased and as a substitute expertise a rise of buying energy slightly than a loss.

Not all customers are alike, nevertheless. Regardless of the recognition of those financial narratives, some outcasts have used Bitcoin for every kind of functions all through time. Most notably, Julian Assange, a now-famous journalist and political prisoner, creator of WikiLeaks, used Bitcoin for various causes, together with as a proof-of-life mechanism and a verifiable proof-of-publishing. To Assange, Bitcoin was and nonetheless is way more than a distributed financial system that solves the double-spending downside inherent in digital money. For the journalist, Bitcoin can function way more, and whereas he battles for his life, others have joined him in that mission.

Now, earlier than diving into the intricacies of what Bitcoin is and could be to Assange and his supporters, let’s take a step again and see what the journalist has finished with this digital coin because the first time his NGO embraced bitcoin.

In 2010, shortly after the publishing of U.S. diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks within the notorious Chelsea Manning leaks, Assange’s group was minimize from the worldwide banking system as Financial institution of America, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal stopped serving the web platform. That actuality led Assange to undertake bitcoin, and in June 2011 WikiLeak’s Twitter account introduced they’d begin accepting bitcoin donations.

Apparently, WikiLeaks voiced curiosity in adopting bitcoin a lot sooner than June 2011, and in accordance with posts in then-popular discussion board BitcoinTalk, Satoshi discouraged Assange from pursuing that route in December 2010. Their purpose? “Bitcoin is a small beta neighborhood in its infancy. You wouldn’t stand to get greater than pocket change, and the warmth you’d deliver would doubtless destroy us at this stage.” WikiLeaks patiently waited one other six months earlier than accepting bitcoin.

Paradoxically, Assange would later reward the U.S. authorities for allegedly issuing this coordinated assault, which in fact led to WikiLeak’s embrace of bitcoin and subsequently resulted in a capital appreciation in greenback phrases of over a thousand p.c. It’s each fascinating and comical that the actual fact WikiLeaks received locked out of the mainstream monetary system for merely publishing leaked paperwork would cause them to a significantly better monetary scenario — one during which they didn’t must ask permission and will take pleasure in nice financial features in greenback phrases. Poetic.

In September 2014, Assange would begin hinting on the different doable use instances he noticed for Bitcoin, which, given his tone and supply, leads one to imagine he was way more captivated with that than monetary hypothesis — nevertheless giant the features could possibly be with the financial use case:

“Bitcoin is a particularly vital innovation, however not in the best way most individuals assume. Bitcoin’s actual innovation is a globally verifiable proof of publishing at a sure time. The entire system is constructed on that idea and lots of different methods may also be constructed on it. The blockchain nails down historical past, breaking Orwell’s dictum of ‘He who controls the current controls the previous and he who controls the previous controls the long run’.”

A few years later, the usage of Bitcoin as a timestamping server for WikiLeaks paperwork started to emerge, albeit it wasn’t clear if it was WikiLeaks itself doing the timestamps or grassroots activists. A Reddit person posted on r/WikiLeaks that somebody had timestamped the hashes of some WikiLeaks torrent recordsdata, doubtless utilizing OpenTimestamps — an open supply device created by Bitcoin developer Peter Todd for this objective.

Gabriel Shipton, movie producer and Assange’s brother, talked with Bitcoin Journal concerning the early days of his brother’s interactions with bitcoin:

“Julian acknowledged in 2011 the facility of bitcoin to construct ‘an mental scaffold’ for civilization, a protocol that might permit any reference to human mental contributions to be independently verified, with out counting on any group. Bitcoin so vastly excited him not solely as a consequence of it being probably the most censorship-resistant method of publishing doable, but in addition of what it supplied: The power to assemble an awesome marvel of information, an important device in humanity’s battle in opposition to ignorance.”

Assange’s thought course of on Bitcoin use instances is significant not solely as a result of they make clear a very novel use for the decentralized community, but in addition due to how early they have been uttered. Assange noticed this potential over a decade in the past, nevertheless it wouldn’t be till the discharge of Ordinals that this use case can be popularized in a significant method.

Ordinals, launched on Bitcoin mainnet initially of 2023, permits anybody to effortlessly add arbitrary knowledge to a Bitcoin block at any given second. As soon as that knowledge is added, it inherits Bitcoin’s immutability and safety, and might obtain Assange’s imaginative and prescient of a verifiable proof-of-publishing at that second. Inscriptions go even additional. Along with simply housing a timestamp enabling proof-of-publishing, which customers tried with torrent tracker recordsdata as early as 2016, Ordinals permits the direct publishing of the information itself on Bitcoin. Not solely is there an immutable document of the time and date in block top phrases, there may be now additionally the likelihood to publish the precise contents of the article or torrent hyperlink itself. A brand new period of blockspace utilization for Bitcoin.

Naturally, we’ve seen the launch of this new protocol result in a complete slew of JPEGs being printed in blocks. Within the early days, some have been simply random memes, however not lengthy after its launch, inscribers began getting refined, growing recursion methods, and even teleburning Ethereum-based NFT collections. Now, practically a full yr later, Ordinals have spun a completely new ecosystem in Bitcoin, enabling all totally different sorts of creative and software program developments to happen on the “mom chain”.

Nonetheless, some tasks started to emerge that attempt to cater to Assange’s imaginative and prescient from method again in 2014. These tasks range in form, dimension, and kind, however all appear to hunt Bitcoin and the chances caused by Ordinals to truly do one thing greater than speculate on the pictures and movies printed on Bitcoin.

Most notably, a undertaking emerged in October 2023 that sought to allow anybody on the planet so as to add to Bitcoin the cables printed within the leaks that initially locked WikiLeaks out of the worldwide monetary system again in 2010. Because of Ordinals, this undertaking was capable of permit not solely the timestamping of the cables, however the precise inscribing and storing of the unadulterated content material itself. Challenge Spartacus turned Bitcoin right into a form of Library of Alexandria — one that can not be altered or destroyed, regardless of how highly effective the adversary.

On this case, the leaks expose battle crimes by the USA navy and authorities, and expose details that stand in stark distinction to the principle narratives pushed by the media and the federal government itself about what was taking place on the bottom within the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

13 years after these cables turned a journalist right into a political prisoner, this grassroots undertaking emerged to face in solidarity with Assange and declare, “I’m Assange”. Alluding to the well-known “I’m Spartacus” scene within the 1960 film Spartacus, Challenge Spartacus invitations Bitcoin customers from everywhere in the world to say “I’m Assange” and inscribe into Bitcoin these cables that kickstarted every thing.

Challenge Spartacus goals to take a stand towards freedom of data and information, making it unimaginable for anybody to mess with the information that Assange risked his life to make public. The journalist presently faces potential extradition to the U.S., regardless of being an Australian citizen and never having dedicated the alleged offenses on U.S. soil. The end result of the extradition course of stays unsure, and considerations proceed to develop concerning his future and whether or not he’ll ever regain his freedom.

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Challenge Spartacus’ web site gives a public interface by which any particular person can “inscribe” –– Ordinals jargon for including knowledge to Bitcoin –– a battle log. There appear to be no charges related to this motion aside from community charges, a vital element to any transaction submitted to the Bitcoin community. The web page additionally contains a “donate” button, which opens up a panel by which customers can optionally ship bitcoin to Assange’s trigger. Donations are stated to go towards supporting the next organizations: Freedom of the Press Basis, The Info Rights Challenge, and Reporters With out Borders.

Bitcoin Journal spoke with the nameless creators of the expertise behind Challenge Spartacus, who shed some mild on the method and mission:

“Every battle log a person inscribes by Challenge Spartacus is a file containing the unique content material from one of many 76,911 Afghan Warfare Diary logs. We selected the Ordinals protocol for its widespread adoption, even in its infancy, as a regular for immutable knowledge storage, and just because we imagine Bitcoin is probably the most immutable and uncensorable expertise for this use case. As every log is inscribed, its knowledge is embedded into Bitcoin to be propagated and simply discovered by any of the numerous Bitcoin and Ordinals shoppers. We see this use case for Bitcoin to be vital for human rights and freedom, and we hope that you’ll stand with Julian Assange by storing this delicate knowledge on Bitcoin with us.”

Upon navigating to the web site, the person finds an enormous rectangular button on the principle web page, studying “Publish Warfare Log”. Upon clicking, the method of inscribing a battle log is triggered. The person is given the choice to decide on what number of logs to inscribe, with a most of 300 battle logs per transaction. The person can then choose the transaction price, based mostly on which a complete quantity for fee is calculated. Upon hitting “proceed”, the person is then presumably redirected for fee.

The creators of Challenge Spartacus gave the recordsdata a graphical therapy by selecting SVG recordsdata, which nonetheless comprise the uncooked log knowledge as a remark discipline, whereas giving the person a approach to simply view the knowledge. The undertaking takes a spin on Ordinals’ widespread use case of digital artifacts to deal with full knowledge finality on a decentralized chain of data, run by tens of 1000’s of nodes in a whole lot of various jurisdictions around the globe.

On this sense, as Assange as soon as envisioned, Bitcoin has certainly develop into greater than only a monetary asset — it’s now a beacon of hope for these preventing in opposition to the suppression of reality and the distortion of historical past.

This text is featured in Bitcoin Journal’s “The Inscription Problem”. Click on right here to get your Annual Bitcoin Journal Subscription.