Project Spartacus: An Act of Solidarity For Julian Assange

This text is featured in Bitcoin Journal’s “The Inscription Issue”. 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 value appreciation since its inception in 2009, the financial good additionally grew to become a retailer of worth — a method by means of which somebody may retailer their useful work hours in order to not have them debased and as an alternative expertise a rise of buying energy quite than a loss.

Not all customers are alike, nonetheless. Regardless of the recognition of these financial narratives, some outcasts have used Bitcoin for all types 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 drawback 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 may be to Assange and his supporters, let’s take a step again and see what the journalist has completed 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 lower from the worldwide banking system as Financial institution of America, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal stopped serving the net platform. That actuality led Assange to undertake bitcoin, and in June 2011 WikiLeak’s Twitter account introduced they’d begin accepting bitcoin donations.

Curiously, WikiLeaks voiced curiosity in adopting bitcoin a lot sooner than June 2011, and in line 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 community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.” WikiLeaks patiently waited one other six months earlier than accepting bitcoin.

Sarcastically, Assange would later reward the U.S. authorities for allegedly issuing this coordinated assault, which of course led to WikiLeak’s embrace of bitcoin and subsequently resulted in a capital appreciation in greenback phrases of over a thousand %. It’s each attention-grabbing and comical that the very fact WikiLeaks obtained locked out of the mainstream monetary system for merely publishing leaked paperwork would cause them to a significantly better monetary scenario — one wherein they didn’t must ask permission and will get pleasure from nice financial beneficial properties in greenback phrases. Poetic.

In September 2014, Assange would begin hinting on the different potential use instances he noticed for Bitcoin, which, given his tone and supply, leads one to consider he was way more keen about that than monetary hypothesis — nonetheless massive the beneficial properties could possibly be with the financial use case:

“Bitcoin is an extremely important innovation, but not in the way most people think. Bitcoin’s real innovation is a globally verifiable proof of publishing at a certain time. The whole system is built on that concept and many other systems can also be built on it. The blockchain nails down history, breaking Orwell’s dictum of ‘He who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future’.”

A pair of years later, the use 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 information, doubtless utilizing OpenTimestamps — an open supply instrument created by Bitcoin developer Peter Todd for this objective.

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

“Julian recognized in 2011 the power of bitcoin to build ‘an intellectual scaffold’ for civilization, a protocol that would allow any reference to human intellectual contributions to be independently verified, without relying on any organization. Bitcoin so greatly excited him not only due to it being the most censorship-resistant manner of publishing possible, but also of what it offered: The ability to construct a great wonder of knowledge, a crucial tool in humanity’s struggle against 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 additionally as a result of of how early they had been uttered. Assange noticed this potential over a decade in the past, however it wouldn’t be till the discharge of Ordinals that this use case could be popularized in a significant means.

Ordinals, launched on Bitcoin mainnet firstly of 2023, permits anybody to effortlessly add arbitrary information to a Bitcoin block at any given second. As soon as that information is added, it inherits Bitcoin’s immutability and safety, and may 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 information 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 had been simply random memes, however not lengthy after its launch, inscribers began getting refined, creating recursion methods, and even teleburning Ethereum-based NFT collections. Now, almost a full yr later, Ordinals have spun a completely new ecosystem in Bitcoin, enabling all totally different varieties of inventive and software program developments to happen on the “mother chain”.

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

Most notably, a challenge emerged in October 2023 that sought to allow anybody on the earth 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. Due to Ordinals, this challenge was in a position to enable not solely the timestamping of the cables, however the precise inscribing and storing of the unadulterated content material itself. Project Spartacus turned Bitcoin into a form of Library of Alexandria — one that can not be altered or destroyed, irrespective of how highly effective the adversary.

On this case, the leaks expose warfare crimes by the US navy and authorities, and expose information 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 challenge emerged to face in solidarity with Assange and declare, “I am Assange”. Alluding to the well-known “I am Spartacus” scene within the 1960 film Spartacus, Project Spartacus invitations Bitcoin customers from everywhere in the world to say “I am Assange” and inscribe into Bitcoin these cables that kickstarted the whole lot.

Project Spartacus goals to take a stand towards freedom of data and data, making it inconceivable for anybody to mess with the information that Assange risked his life to make public. The journalist at the moment 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 result of the extradition course of stays unsure, and considerations proceed to develop relating to his future and whether or not he’ll ever regain his freedom.

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Project Spartacus’ web site gives a public interface by means of which any individual can “inscribe” –– Ordinals jargon for including information to Bitcoin –– a warfare log. There appear to be no charges related to this motion other than community charges, a needed part to any transaction submitted to the Bitcoin community. The web page additionally encompasses a “donate” button, which opens up a panel by means of 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 Project, and Reporters With out Borders.

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

“Each war log a user inscribes through Project Spartacus is a file containing the original content from one of the 76,911 Afghan War Diary logs. We chose the Ordinals protocol for its widespread adoption, even in its infancy, as a standard for immutable data storage, and simply because we believe Bitcoin is the most immutable and uncensorable technology for this use case. As each log is inscribed, its data is embedded into Bitcoin to be propagated and easily found by any of the many Bitcoin and Ordinals clients. We see this use case for Bitcoin to be critical for human rights and freedom, and we hope that you will stand with Julian Assange by storing this sensitive data on Bitcoin with us.”

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

The creators of Project Spartacus gave the information a graphical remedy by selecting SVG information, which nonetheless include the uncooked log information as a remark area, whereas giving the person a approach to simply view the knowledge. The challenge takes a spin on Ordinals’ fashionable use case of digital artifacts to give attention to full information finality on a decentralized chain of data, run by tens of hundreds of nodes in a whole lot of totally different jurisdictions around the globe.

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

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

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