If you publicly dissent from government policies, in many parts of the world your own bank accounts may be used as a weapon against you. It’s happening more and more often. Some examples:
CANADA: Froze bank accounts of those involved in the trucker protests earlier this year, focusing on leaders and activists in particular.
CHINA: People protesting against delays in getting their money out of struggling banks found their health code apps (mandatory for all Chinese to have on their smart phones) turning red, forcing them into quarantine and allowing banks and other public places to deny them access.
PAKISTAN: Supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan have been warned that “they may get their national identity cards blocked and will be unable to operate their bank accounts”.
We’ve already seen pressure from the US government on banks to withhold services from businesses and industries of which the former does not approve. Witness, for example, Operation Choke Point under the Obama administration. It’s officially over, but similar pressures from national, state and local governments continue, and “woke” private financial firms are doing likewise. For instance, if you have a PayPal account, you can’t use it for any firearms-related purchases. It’s right there in their user agreements. Violate those conditions, and your account may be closed.
The US government uses bank accounts as a weapon against suspected criminals, too. In many federal prosecutions, the bank accounts and financial assets of those accused will be frozen by the state, leaving the accused with no money to hire attorneys or other legal assistance. This can be a very effective pressure tactic, forcing some who would never normally have conceded their guilt to reach a plea-bargained agreement with prosecutors as the least damaging outcome available to them.
I fully expect to see this used more and more against those who disagree with the policies of any left-wing, progressive administration. The IRS was used to target opponents of the Obama administration, leading to widespread suspicion (shared by this author) that plans to add 87,000 new employees to that agency are a preliminary move towards more such targeting. Object to this, or that, or the other legislation or administrative action? Congratulations, citizen. You’ve been selected for an intensive audit of your taxes. What will you bet that you won’t end up being found liable for thousands of dollars in shortfalls and punitive payments?
No actual wrongdoing will be needed to see such sanctions launched against an individual or group. The mere fact of disagreement with official policy, or trying to get one’s own money out of struggling banks that a regime has to protect, or engaging in activities (e.g. the shooting sports) that are out of official favor – those will be more than adequate pretexts for the authorities to regard one with suspicion. What’s more, what they do will probably not in itself be illegal. If they force you to wait one, or two, or three years to get IRS approval for a non-profit organization, that’s not against the law. They’ll simply claim they’re doing “due diligence” research to make sure your organization is what you say it is. The fact that you can’t operate or raise funds in the meanwhile? Well, that’s your problem.
I fear we’re going to see this more and more. It’s a good reason to be suspicious of any Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which will be entirely electronic, never paid in cash, and totally under the control of the issuing authorities. If such an account is tied to other elements of one’s digital identity, any and all of them may be cancelled or “wiped” by official action without so much as a “by your leave”. Consider Sri Lanka’s latest development in that regard.
Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth & Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development says he expects to introduce a digital wallet to every citizen after the issuance of the Digital National Identity Card.
The Minister said it would allow people to keep their essential personal documents, including passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates and exam certificates, in a “digital wallet” on their mobile phones and present them at any time.
. . .
Minister Namal Rajapaksa further stated that 100 Municipal Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas will be digitized this year. Steps will be taken to introduce LANKA QR code for digital payment of shop rent, land rent, public tax collection and street line payments.
Minister Namal Rajapaksa further stated that by 2025, all government institutions from the Grama Niladhari office to the Department of Registration of Persons will be digitalized and a digital technology revolution will take place in the country.
There’s more at the link.
If you’re an anti-government protester in Sri Lanka, a couple of years from now, what’s to prevent the government there from simply cancelling your digital ID and everything associated with it? All of a sudden you’d be a non-person, with no bank accounts, no funds, no way to pay your rent or taxes, no way to buy food. It’s a statist’s wet dream and a freedom-lover’s nightmare.
When you see and hear all the pressure put on us to “go digital” in everything, to connect everything to everything else, to automate processes rather than have human beings in the loop, ask yourself: Cui bono? Who benefits? Mostly, it’s not us.