I’m proud to announce the release of a new central bank digital currency (CBDC) tracker. The interactive globe shows the status of each country’s CBDC efforts (e.g., no activity, research, pilot, or launch) and explains what the risks of CBDCs would mean in the context of each country’s treatment of human rights and civil liberties.
The tracker is a product of the Human Rights Foundation. It was announced in February that Janine Römer, Matthew Mezinskis, and I were awarded fellowships to work on and launch the tracker. Despite there being other CBDC trackers available, the Human Rights Foundation launched this project to fill a critical gap: raising awareness around the risks that CBDCs present to human rights and civil liberties.
For example, in many countries, widespread government corruption remains a major issue. In this context, the existence of pervasive corruption is a major concern with CBDCs because it calls into question any government promises to limit surveillance, control, or other risks of CBDCs. Furthermore, the existence of corruption calls into question whether CBDC policies might be designed to exert political favoritism through subsidies, price controls, or other targeted restrictions.
Elsewhere, there are concerns where governments have clamped down on protests and free expression. Unfortunately, a CBDC could be used as another tool in this effort. Across the world, governments have often turned to freezing and seizing the money of activists, political rivals, and protestors to undermine the opposition. A CBDC would make such initiatives easier by allowing governments to take direct control of each citizen’s finances.
And that’s not all. Despite the great progress that has been made around the world, there are still many issues around the treatment of human rights and civil liberties—issues that could be made worse by the launch and use of CBDCs. Luckily, the Human Rights Foundation’s CBDC tracker has what you need to get up to speed.