Whistleblower Edward Snowden believes Coinbase is overly compliant and overly indulgent. In a chat with 75 participants of Camp Decrypt in Napa Valley last month, he said questioned how the crypto exchange has actually advanced the interests of society.
Snowden outlined that Coinbase gets users the same way Facebook became synonymous with social media. The former NSA contractor noted that people are exploiting the kind of ignorance that made so many people now think that tapping the Facebook app on the smartphone is the internet, and now think that crypto is Coinbase, or something else equally horrible. Snowden said he has nothing personal against the crypto company that has put regulatory compliance over the founding ideals of blockchain-based networks.
Coinbase believes working with regulators is the key to the widespread acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an asset class. It highlighted in a blog post that for crypto to gain the legitimacy needed for mainstream adoption, compliance cannot be an afterthought. Coinbase said compliance has to be the core of the way it operates. As such, compliance with existing regulatory frameworks is a necessity.
Snowden compared the crypto firm to a company that sells products as Home Depot does. He explained that one is not even building lawnmowers, one is selling them because it’s popular, important, and valuable. The whistleblower said there is a difference because nobody asks for him to hold up his passport and scan his face, and the fact that Coinbase goes along with it is toxic and embarrassing.
He pointed out that companies looking to bring individuals into Web3 while also remaining compliant with regulations should do so in a way that doesn’t compromise the ideals that originally prompted people to the industry. Snowden suggested leaving space for the protocol.