As the Bank of Canada seeks consultation from Canadians on its design of a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC), digital privacy experts are warning that the technology could be used by governments to track payments and freeze dissidents’ bank accounts.

“CBDCs could be a nightmare for democracy, for civil liberties, and potentially all sorts of human rights,” Ori Freiman, a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University’s Digital Society Lab, who is researching the responsible implementation of emerging technologies, said in an interview.

“At the end of the day, all those policy-makers need to understand that this technology can be weaponized to identify people, and because of that, they need to come up with a clear red line.”

On May 8, the Bank of Canada announced it was exploring the possibility of issuing a digital currency, and was thus seeking consultation from Canadians on its design.

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