Mozilla has decided to suspend donations via cryptocurrency following community backlash.
The foundation behind the open source Firefox browser tweeted on Dec. 31, 2021 that it accepted donations via Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin via BitPay.
This attempt to encourage end-of-year donations prompted this response from Mozilla founder Jamie Zawinski, in which he says that “everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters.” (Among other things.)
Saying that Zawinski was unhappy about Mozilla accepting donations via cryptocurrency would be an understatement. Mozilla responded in a series of tweets on Jan. 6 that characterized the resulting backlash as “an important discussion about cryptocurrency’s environmental impact.”
“Decentralized web technology continues to be an important area for us to explore,” Mozilla says, “but a lot has changed since we started accepting crypto donations.” It adds that “starting today we are reviewing if and how our current policy on crypto donations fits with our climate goals. And as we conduct our review, we will pause the ability to donate cryptocurrency.”
The backlash to Mozilla’s original tweet is part of a broader conversation about the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. Every aspect of using popular tokens, from mining them to making transactions, uses a significant amount of power and generates electronic waste.
The New York Times reported in September 2021 that Bitcoin alone uses more electricity than many countries. Because much of that electricity is generated with non-renewable energy sources, the Times said, using these cryptocurrencies has “real-world ramifications.”
Mozilla is now caught in the middle of this larger debate about cryptocurrency’s effect on the climate and will be evaluating how it plans to move forward.
“In the spirit of open-source, this will be a transparent process and we’ll share regular updates,” the foundation says. “We look forward to having this conversation and appreciate our community for bringing this to our attention.”