Editor’s Note: Charlie Shrem has responded publicly by clarifying that he has not been banned from any conferences. A misreading of events caused by verbiage which CCN profusely apologizes for initially printing. Shrem has responded to CCN inquiries from earlier today and will release a full statement on the happenings soon.
CCN wishes Charlie Shrem the best of luck in his 9/22/14 trial, his case has been previously written about here.
Embattled former Bitcoin Foundation member Charlie Shrem has faced his share of legal trouble with the United States government after an indictment for allegedly laundering more than $1 million on the now-defunct Silk Road. Shrem was slated to speak about government and Bitcoin at this weekend’s Bitcoin in the Beltway conference until a last minute call from the United States government thwarted his plans.
U.S. Government Keeps Charlie Shrem from 2014 Bitcoin in the Beltway Bitcoin Conference in Washington D.C.
Charlie Shrem appeared to be the quintessential speaker for the Bitcoin in the Beltway conference. Shrem was one of Bitcoin’s most forefront entrepreneurs and evangelists. However, in a very public turn of events, the U.S. government arrested the former Bitcoin Foundation member for allegedly laundering money on the Silk Road before a government raid took the site down, which led mainstream media outlets to ignorantly declare that police had arrested “Bitcoin’s CEO.” Many conference attendees–who tended to skew toward the anarcho-capitalist viewpoint, argue that Shrem is an innocent victim of government corruption. Regardless of one’s beliefs about Shrem’s innocence, he would doubtless have given a poignant address about the threat that Bitcoin poses to government, as well as the threat that the government poses to people who advocate for the decentralization Bitcoin facilitates.
According to Bitcoin in the Beltway organizer and Sean’s Outpost founder Jason King, the government had given Charlie Shrem clearance to attend and speak at Bitcoin in the Beltway but had revoked permission at the last minute.
Charlie Shrem Replaced by OpenBazaar
Because the government gave Charlie Shrem short notice that he could not speak at Bitcoin in the Beltway, conference organizers did not have time to schedule a new speaker. However, their choice of speaker to move into Shrem’s time-slot was nothing short of ironic. OpenBazaar developer Brian Hoffman spoke in Shrem’s stead. OpenBazaar is a less-shady fork of DarkMarket, which is largely considered to be the heir apparent to Silk Road–the very website that led to Charlie Shrem’s demise.
OpenBazaar seeks to be Bitcoin’s eBay, a decentralized marketplace that cuts out the need for a middleman. In place of a third-party payment platform such as PayPal, consumers and merchants will conduct transactions according to contracts that offer the ability to appoint a third-party arbiter to settle disputes if they arise. OpenBazaar will not censor the products merchants sell on their platform. When asked about this, Hoffman responded that “It’s not our job to police what is sold on our platform…it is your job as a community.”
Additionally, Hoffman explained that OpenBazaar is designed as an open-source project under a creative-commons style license. Any person is free to build upon the OpenBazaar code. However, if someone modifies that code he must resubmit it to the community under the same license as the original OpenBazaar source code, so that others can benefit from his work just as he benefited from OpenBazaar.
In his speech, Hoffman announced an ambitious developmental schedule. He stated that by August of this year OpenBazaar will begin beta testing and that they will release the full OpenBazaar client by December.