Privacy Holds Strong as Cypherpunks Contribute Code at Baltic Honeybadger Conference

Bitcoin’s Reputation as the Honey Badger Endures at the Baltic Honeybadger Conference

Bitcoin’s association with the honey badger has become iconic in the cryptocurrency community. This comparison was popularized by Roger Ver, a prominent Bitcoin evangelist who later became a Bitcoin Cash advocate. In 2013, Ver paid $1,500 a month to display a billboard in California proclaiming, “Bitcoin is the Honey Badger of Money.” Since then, the concept of the honey badger has continued to resonate, manifesting in various memes and tweets, as well as the annual Baltic honey badger hunt.

The Baltic Honeybadger conference, often considered the most original and genuine Bitcoin conference, began in 2017 with notable speakers Andreas Antonopoulos and Elizabeth Stark. This Riga-based event has always emphasized privacy, anti-surveillance, and cypherpunk principles. One of the hallmarks of this conference is its Cypherpunk Stage, where no cameras, recording devices, or live streams are allowed. The conference’s security personnel, known as “Bitcoin Bears,” strictly enforce this rule to ensure that all content remains exclusively within the conference space.

Max Keidun, the founder of Honeybadger and CEO of Hodl Hodl and Debifi, made it clear during the conference opening that anyone caught recording or photographing the Cypherpunk Stage would be immediately expelled and banned for life. This zero-tolerance policy reflects the seriousness with which Eastern Europe takes such matters.

Privacy and freedom of speech were central themes throughout the conference. Attendees proudly wore badges indicating their desire to avoid photographs, and the conference even provided privacy-centric bandanas in the goodie bags. It was common to hear participants asking each other, “Are you doxed?”—essentially, questioning whether their online identities were exposed or concealed.

The conference fostered an atmosphere of open dialogue, welcoming discussions on various subjects related to Bitcoin, including comparisons between Bitcoin adoption in El Salvador and central bank digital currencies. Bitcoin educator Giacomo Zucco even humorously addressed the nuances of different types of Bitcoin advocates, emphasizing the importance of individuals with varying levels of intelligence and their contributions to the ecosystem.

Despite its significance and authenticity, the Baltic honey badger’s survival is under threat due to the growing mainstream appeal of Bitcoin. Many Bitcoin conferences have become social media spectacles and opportunities for selfies, featuring high-profile Bitcoin supporters like Michael Saylor, Natalie Brunell, and Jack Mallers. One attendee even jokingly likened the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami to a Christian rock festival, with thousands flocking to see prominent figures discuss esoteric topics such as sound money and salvation.

In contrast, the Baltic Honeybadger conference resembled a dive bar where no topic was off-limits. Attendees engaged in discussions ranging from nuclear war to Miniscript and from human rights to hamster wheels. The focus was on real conversation, even as Bitcoin’s price took a backseat to the broader issues and concerns of the cryptocurrency community. Only one panel, titled “When 100K?,” broached the subject of Bitcoin’s price, with Blockstream CEO Adam Back confidently predicting new all-time highs before the Bitcoin halving in April 2024.

Alongside the conference, various side events and activities added to the lively atmosphere. Nostr, a decentralized protocol offering an alternative to Twitter, organized events and dominated discussions. A Chain Duel tournament, set up by Portuguese programmer Francis, combined the 90s classic Snake with Bitcoin and offered participants a chance to win a pot of satoshis, valued at over $300.

Lightning-enabled transactions were also a prominent feature at the conference. Food trucks accepted Bitcoin and Bitcoin Lightning payments, with many vendors stating that Lightning was faster and more efficient than traditional card payments, without the additional fees charged by credit card companies. In total, over 1.1 BTC (approximately $27,600) was transacted over the Lightning Network during the conference.

The Basement Bar, a popular hangout spot in Latvia, experienced an influx of Bitcoin enthusiasts eager to pay in satoshis. The bar became a hub for Bitcoin-related activity, with customers seamlessly tapping, zapping, and scanning Bitcoin to make payments.

The Baltic Honeybadger conference showcased Lightning’s potential as a scaling solution for Bitcoin. Lightning was a recurring theme in many of the talks, discussing everything from offline payments to smart contracts. Sam Wouters, a Bitcoin research analyst at River, summarized Lightning’s significance by pointing out that it bought the Bitcoin network valuable time to address scalability concerns.

Ultimately, the Baltic Honeybadger conference stood out for its commitment to cypherpunk principles and the genuine exchange of ideas. Privacy and freedom of speech were valued over photo opportunities, and Lightning transactions surpassed fiat payments. This conference served as a reminder of Bitcoin’s roots in cypherpunk ideology, carried forward by a community dedicated to financial sovereignty and individual privacy.

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J-S Tremblay
About the author - J-S Tremblay

I've been involved in the cryptocurrency world since 2016 and trading since 2019. I started Moon and Lambo in 2021. I'm passionate about crypto and love to share my knowledge. I hate bankers and I hope that cryptocurrency will change the financial world for the better. View full profile...

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