The real exchange rate between crypto and freedom

Garry Kasparov 12 May 2022

Listen to Garry Kasparov talk with Avast CISO Jaya Baloo on how private-sector cybersecurity and cryptocurrencies will shape the future of privacy.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital art (including, I proudly admit, my own) are offering people the chance to tell their stories in innovative new ways. Cryptocurrencies have exploded, offering people around the world a new tool to use for investments and financial transactions, free from government control. And on the other side of the regulatory spectrum, even central banks are thinking about the future of digital currency and digital wallets. But with all this change, have we had the chance to stop and consider what this new digital reality will mean for the future of privacy?

The role of new digital realities and crypto will play in the future of privacy

In this latest episode of Garry on Lockdown, I discuss with Jaya Baloo, CISO at Avast, the status quo of security in cyberspace, and the role our new digital realities – and crypto – in particular will play in shaping the future of privacy. Although the episode was recorded before Putin’s second invasion of Ukraine began, this war (and the hybrid war combining conventional and cyber weapons that authoritarians have been waging against democracies everywhere for over a decade now) only reinforce how this story is more relevant now than ever before.

Our new virtual technologies are tools and, just like any other tools, they offer opportunities and progress, but also hurt, harm, and potential dangers to guard against. Just as work-from-home allowed people all over the world to keep doing their jobs while protecting themselves and their loved ones from a deadly pandemic, it also opened up a billion new points of attack and vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. Suddenly, the ransomware attacks you’ve only been reading about in the news may hit home when a cyberattack shuts down your local hospital, or infiltrates your email inbox. Billions of IoT devices flood the markets which consumers happily buy for cheap prices, uninformed about the security vulnerabilities they may come with.

Crypto can help solve security issues. At the same time, the rise of cryptocurrencies offers just as many new complications for firms and individuals trying to adapt to this new reality while doing good for the world. I’ll admit that, like many of you, I too was skeptical of crypto at first, but the more I learned about the technology, the more I realized its importance, especially for those living under authoritarian governments.

Cryptocurrencies helping dissidents – but also dictators?

In fact, I was won over when experts at the Human Rights Foundation I chair showed me how cryptocurrency, free from government interference, can be a powerful tool for dissidents on the frontlines of freedom all over the world. If you’re supporting a dissident in Venezuela, how can you get them the resources they need to speak out against a tyrannical regime? What’s the currency you use to avoid government seizures and persecution?

At the same time, just as dissidents use crypto to avoid government repression, some have asked me whether dictators may use crypto to avoid foreign sanctions. With Russia’s leading banks locked out by Western sanctions, are Russian oligarchs turning to digital cryptocurrencies?

Join Jaya and I as we discuss all this, and more, in the new episode of Garry on Lockdown.

Please note that this video was filmed prior to the onset of the war in Ukraine. The information presented in the video reflects the events taking place before February 24, 2022.

--> -->