What Will Sanctions Look Like in a Web3 World?

A Challenge to Crypto-Coders

In a Web3 world, would you be more or less helpless to respond to events in real life?

Suppose the transformation to Web3 — whatever that means to you– were already complete when the tanks started rolling into Ukraine.

If you, like myself, felt horrified by this, in a world of independent agents are we then all equally responsible for stopping violent aggression? Or are none of us responsible at all?

Setting aside the question of responsibility, let us examine agency. Suppose that I wish to do everything in my power to stop the invasion. In a Web3 world do I have more, or less power than I do today?

Do I have the agency to decide not to do business with Putin’s proxies? Or if all my transactions are in anonymous Monero, would I have no way to know even if I were dealing with him directly?

Honestly, if web3 promises individual agency, I should have the choice of anonymity, but also the choice not to be anonymous, and further not to deal with those I have no reason to trust.

Creating the possibility of a trustless system should not de facto force everyone to deal equally with murderers and madmen.

The strongest real-world response to the invasion has been financial sanctions. Suppose I wish to participate in sanctions, with my small resources. How would I do that?

I have two proposals to give individuals more agency, not less:

Wallet Extension for a Personal Blacklist

A wallet extension that enables the owner to refuse tokens that have once been held by a blacklisted account, and rate limit acceptance of tokens too newly minted.

This would essentially allow coordinated groups of individuals to remotely devalue the currency of bad actors.

Of course, bad actors will use the tool as well – it could also be turned against dissidents.

It is simply a tool, of international cooperation, that at least enables different kinds of non-coercive coordinated behavior with a small sacrifice entailed for the individuals participating, so perhaps less likely to be effective by paid trolls.

Open Reputation Feed, or Trust Claims Ledger

In order to cooperatively identify the bad actors, an open ledger of signed claims to allow anyone to stake their credibility on an assertion.

This would, for example, allow the family member of a disappeared person to stake all their credibility that their loved one has been taken by a “government”.

However, this is dangerous for the family. It also allows a person who has spoken to the family, to stake their credibility on the same assertion, without disclosing exactly how they know the truth.

While this open reputation or trust claims feed will also be abused, if rolled up in a system like Trustgraph, credibility can propagate through a strongly trusted network.

The combination of these solutions would give people the power to apply their preferred trust ranking to their interactions with the world, whether through social media or commerce.

Will it be abused? Of course.

But not building it in a decentralized way for ourselves will in no way stop authoritarians from building a centrally controlled system of manipulation. People who prefer can still use fully-anonymized wallets and resources; but we should not force all of us to, as this simply plays into the hands of bad actors who never want to face consequences.

And if these ideas do not appeal to you – do you have another to propose, that makes each of us an actor and not a bystander, if we wish?


Detailed technical proposals to follow


Trustgraph: [https://github.com/trustgraph/trustgraph>
TrustNet: [https://cblgh.org/articles/trustnet.html>
Shared banlists: [https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-spec-proposals/blob/msc2313/proposals/2313-moderation-policy-rooms.md>
OpenReputationFeed RFC: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DSHW8tEEWJrBXGtiwUjB5qTp6hxkFRWLKq_BJuzZkiE/edit

This article was originally published by Golda Velez on Hackernoon: Will sanctions exist in a world that runs on Web3?

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