The Financial Aftermath of 9/11

As the world looks back on one of the worst tragedies of the 21st century, it’s important to remember 9/11′s long-lasting aftereffects: increased financial surveillance and exclusion.

AccessTimeIconSep 13, 2021 at 4:52 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:38 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconSep 13, 2021 at 4:52 p.m. UTCUpdated May 11, 2023 at 6:38 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconSep 13, 2021 at 4:52 p.m. UTCUpdated May 11, 2023 at 6:38 p.m. UTC

9/11 was a human tragedy of staggering proportions.

This weekend America honored and mourned the first responders, office workers, airline passengers and others who lost their lives 20 years ago.

As the world looks back on one of the most consequential events of the 21st century, it’s important to remember 9/11′s long-lasting aftereffects – a reminder that emergencies can make for knee-jerk policy and unforeseen consequences.

These lingering effects include the increased mass surveillance and tightening of anti-money laundering rules under the USA Patriot Act and the toll these measures took on privacy, financial inclusion and innovation.

The added compliance burden raised the barriers to entry in financial services, further discouraging competition and strengthening incumbents with scale to offset the costs.

Meanwhile, as Shoshanna Zuboff argues in her book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” the national security establishment’s thirst for ever-more private data dovetailed with Silicon Valley’s desire to mine it for profit.

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and the Web3 movement can all to varying degrees be seen as reactions to these historical forces that undermined the liberating promise of the early internet.

Below are some relevant reads, representing a wide variety of perspectives published in CoinDesk over the years.


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Marc Hochstein

Marc Hochstein is the executive editor of Consensus, CoinDesk's flagship event. He holds BTC above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1K and de minimis amounts of other digital assets (details on profile page).