The second Unite The Right rally is scheduled for this weekend and will this year happen in the U.S. capital, with some 400 far-right activists expected to flood into Washington D.C. on August 11th. Ahead of the rally, bitcoin and cryptocurrency donations to neo-Nazis are on the rise.
Last year bitcoin and cryptocurrency donations to neo-Nazis spiked around the Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right rally — which resulted in the death of one counter-protester.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have long been associated with the far right and other extremists around the world, due to their relative anonymity and ease of use. The U.S. white nationalist Richard Spencer called bitcoin the “currency of the alt-right”.
This association has led to some to question the long-term viability of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies if they can facilitate terrorism and dangerous ideologies.
Data collected by cyber security expert John Bambenek through his Neo-Nazi BTC Tracker Twitter bot shows cryptocurrency donations to far-right neo-Nazi activist Weev and his neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer are surging in the run-up to this year’s rally.
Last year the Daily Stormer attracted some $60,000 in bitcoin and cryptocurrency donations around the Charlottesville Unite The Right rally.
Meanwhile, Weev (who runs the technical side of the website alongside editor Andrew Anglinthe and whose real name is Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer), has attracted some $1.8 million cryptocurrency donations to his known wallet address, according to Bambenek’s Twitter bot. He may have received more to other anonymous wallets.
“Many of these known neo-Nazis had hundreds of thousands of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies before the massive price rises we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” said Bambenek. “They still have a great deal, and many choose to store their crypto in Monero — which is more anonymous than bitcoin.”
Monero is an open-source cryptocurrency created in April 2014 that focuses on anonymity, ease of exchange, and decentralization. It’s worth around $116 per coin.
Bambenek is currently on the hunt for a major donor to the Daily Stormer, who donated some 14.88 bitcoin — at the time worth around $56,000 — shortly after Charlottesville rally.
“While cryptocurrency is often anonymous, if you’ve made your public address available at it’s known to be linked to you, then people are able to see the wallets incoming and outgoing funds via the blockchain,” Bambenek added.
Bambenek has contacted some bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges letting them know who they are providing services to but has had little success in getting neo-Nazi associated wallets shut down.
“I came across one neo-Nazi using an Israeli bitcoin exchange recently, which I found quite ironic,” Bambenek added.
However, the Daily Stormer did lose it’s dot-com status last year and struggled to find a provider to host the site after comments posted on the site about Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville.
In November the site returned with a new .red domain name, registered through GKG.net and now uses a .name address. The site displays a bitcoin wallet address QR code on its home page, asking users for donations.