Solana’s Position On Free Speech In Crypto Despite EU Laws

The Solana Foundation discusses the controversy around meme coins by highlighting permission-less networks and the duty of developers to filter content.

Takeaway Points:

  • Solana Foundation’s strategy head highlights the need for a permissionless core network, likening it to ISPs’ position on the internet.
  • Diverse viewpoints regarding content filtering are emphasised, with EU regulations requiring specific content filters in opposition to blockchain’s free speech principles.
  • In the larger crypto world, the impact of offending meme coins is considered negligible, despite the controversy surrounding them.

BUIDL Asia’s Meme Coin Controversy

A major concern was brought up at the BUIDL Asia event in Seoul about the spread of meme currencies featuring racist themes, such as tokens bearing the N-word. This sparked a debate among panellists on whether wallet apps and decentralized exchanges should actively filter out such content or if it’s the responsibility of the nodes to halt these tokens. 

Austin Federa from the Solana Foundation emphasized the importance of maintaining a permissionless core network, drawing parallels to the internet’s largely unrestricted nature. He argued that it’s up to wallet developers to decide on content filtering, similar to how ISPs operate without being expected to block offensive content.

Marc Zeller of the Aave Chan Initiative presented a contrasting view, pointing to European Union laws that mandate content filtering, such as France’s legal requirements to block Holocaust denial content. Zeller highlighted the cultural differences in handling offensive content but maintained that the blockchain ethos tends to favor free speech and censorship resistance over content elimination.

Crypto Censorship and Legal Requirements

The discussion also touched on the legal obligations of validators and nodes, with Federa citing the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions on Ethereum Tornado Cash transactions as an example where some community members felt compelled to censor transactions. 

This has led to significant debate within the Ethereum community about the ethics and legality of such actions. Despite the controversy surrounding racist meme coins, Federa pointed out that their impact is relatively minor compared to the broader crypto market, likening it to small hate groups seeking attention.

Austin Federa, Solana Foundation shared a neutral view on meme coins and content censorship

“Choice means the right for a wallet developer to institute a block list… Almost every wallet in every ecosystem filters out spam NFTs and spam tokens. Users always have the ability to reveal something if they want to, but the core network needs to remain permissionless. No one expects Verizon to have a legal obligation to prevent a phishing email from landing in your inbox or to prevent you from accessing something that is potentially racist material.” 

Meme Coins Rise Amid Stalls in the Market

In a separate development, meme coins, particularly those based on Solana like dogwifhat (WIF), have seen a surge in value, with WIF becoming the third-largest meme token by market capitalization. This surge comes as the broader crypto market shows little change, with Bitcoin hovering around $70,000 and other major cryptocurrencies like Ether, Solana’s SOL, and Cardano’s ADA experiencing slight declines. 

Growth in the meme coin category surpassed that of other niches, driven by record bets on DOGE-tracked futures and conjecture about DOGE’s possible integration into an upcoming payment service.