NEW DELHI: Whistleblower Edward Snowden has become the newest notable personality to join the non-fungible token (NFT) bandwagon. An image called “Stay Free” depicts Snowden’s face made out of pages from a 2015 US appeals court decision on mass surveillance programmes that Snowden had exposed. The image was sold as an NFT for a whopping $5.4 million, approximately 2,224 ETH (Ethereum).
The artwork was made by photographer Platon. The case in question—ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) against the US Federal government—ruled that NSA mass surveillance exposed by Snowden was illegal. “Emerging applications of cryptography can play an important role in supporting our rights. This auction will drive the development of valuable and privacy-protecting uses of encryption, to safeguard press freedom and serve the public,” Snowden said via a statement through the Freedom of Press Foundation, where Snowden is the president. Profits from the sale will also go to this non-profit organization.
“We’re very excited to use the proceeds of this auction to help further our work developing and improving technology that can protect journalists and their sources, like SecureDrop, our open-source whistleblower submission system,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of Press Foundation.
The Snowden NFT is the newest in a line of such tokens that have been sold for large amounts. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey had sold the first tweet ever made for $2.9 million last month, while artist Grimes has also sold multiple digital paintings for millions of dollars using NFTs.
The concept of NFTs builds on digital currency like Bitcoin, but isn’t a cryptocurrency like Ethereum or Bitcoin. Instead, NFTs use the security of a blockchain network to create digital deeds that signify the ownership of a digital item. The tokens have also been used by auction house Christie’s to sell digital artist Beeple’s work for $69 million in March this year.