FreeOtto

FutureTalk: How Does Estonia Move From Here - Dear Veronika Mets

In response to the article in Baltic Times: anti-money_laundering_laws_clamp_down_on_bitcoin_traders/ on the 02-07-2015, where you state: “For future steps we can say that the Ministry of Finance of Estonia has made good contact with Estonian Association of Cryptocurrency and is looking forward to co-operating with the Association on possible specifications or amendments to the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act,” we offer our reaction on behalf of the Revaluta Bank, which is to implore you to have a meeting with one of the founders of the Estonian Association of Cryptocurrency; Otto de Voogd. This meeting will have the theme “how does Estonia move forward from here”, and will be held this summer in Tallinn. We hope and suggest that these “FutureTalks” (to label it “Peacetalks” would be a bit over-the-top) might potentially result in more positive or promising follow up stories on the future of Estonia and its potential for EU inhabitants. This is our aim in facilitating this meeting. 

In our piece #FreeOtto, we assert that “We call forth any courageous Estonian to prove the land to have remained, the open, honest, curious and free nation we have come to know it”. Dear Veronika: you are the one we call forth today, or in fact: this summer. We have come to understand that, understanding that in contact with Otto, a highly authentic and equally boldheaded person with a strong vision and uncensored opinions, perhaps, some friction in communication may have occurred in the past. That said, this topic is too important to ignore, and therefore we hope that the word “courageous” will entice you further to do the right thing.

So we invite you to having a cup of coffee with Otto de Voogd, and hope you will accept the invitation. Not because we expect you too, but because there is the reason why we would and should expect this from you. 

The #FreeOtto Group.

 

 

 

#Freeotto

Hollandis on tekitamas meelepaha Eesti politsei rahapesu andmebüroo (RAB) arusaam Otto de Voogdi kaasusest ning sellele vastav kohtuotsus. Ta on Eestis kodunenud Hollandi bitcoini-entusiast, kelle kohtuasjas tehtud otsus tundub mõnede jaoks niivõrd märgist mööda, et nad ei oska muud, kui kummastunult naerda. Lisaks sellele, et RAB end niimoodi naeruvääristab ja üha rohkem inimesi tunneb Otto kohtuvõitluse suhtes poolehoidu, on see Eesti jaoks ka laiem tagasilöök, sest ettevõtjad ei tunne enam soovi riskida äri avamisega E‑stonias. Me kutsume eestlasi üles sel teemal sõna võtma, et parandada see viga ning muuta Eesti taas turvaliseks maabumispaigaks digitaalsetele teerajajatele. See on veel võimalik.

Sest muidu me ei tule. Või vähemasti on meis hakanud idanema kõhklused. Ja ma mäletan veel selgesti, kui elevile ajas mind mõte Eestisse kolimisest. Mind küll ärritas, et pidin jätma oma hollandlastest sõbrad, aga ma leidsin viisi, kuidas tuua parimad osad Hollandist kaasa oma uuele kodumaale. Ma tahtsin luua Tallinnas idufirma, millel nimeks Estonianizer. Selle idee oli veenda kõige kasulikumaid ja edukamaid Hollandi sotsiaalseid ettevõtteid end Tallinna skaalale kohandama, et niimoodi pakkuda oma teenuseid ja tooteid, mille eesmärk oleks siinset ühiskonda rikastada ning uuele tasemele edasi viia. Soovisin pakkuda neile võimalust avada väike Eesti harukontor ning seeläbi jagada oma kogemust kohaliku „avatud teadmuse” kogukonnaga. Nimetatud sotsiaalsete ettevõtete „tasuta” teenus oleks olnud kindlasti tasuv nende paljude eestlaste jaoks, kellel ei oleks muidu võimalust neist sotsiaalsetest projektidest osa saada. Nii võiksid end Tallinnas ja Tartus sisse seada Hollandis juba töötavad teenused nagu Share-a-meal, Rank-a-brand, Dare-to-ask, Revaluta Bank jpt. See pöörane idee näis olevat asjakohane rahva jaoks, kes tundus nii siiralt avatud innovatsioonile ja selle teerajajatele.

Tausta ja võimalusi uurides leidsin ma Tallinnas hollandlastest kaasmaalasi. Üks neist oli loonud toidupanga vaeste jaoks, teine — ma räägin siin loomulikult Ottost — puhunud elu sisse kohalikule bitcoini-diskussioonile, ja ma tundsin, et nende kirg ja pühendumus on sarnane minu omale. Meile kõigile meeldis Eesti ja eestlased. Jah, meist igaühele ka üks oma väga eriline Eesti naine, aga ka kõik teised, keda me kohtasime. Sest Eesti rahvas tundus uudishimulik ja avatud uutele teadmistele. Leidsin siit eest piraadiliikumise poliitilised aktivistid pidamas digitaalseid veebikonverentse. Leidsin eest bitcoini-konverentsid oma põhjani minevate debattidega. Leidsin siit ülemaailmse prügikoristusliikumise peakorteri. Leidsin finantsküsimustes informeeritud ja teraste seisukohtadega restoranipidajad. Ma leidsin eest ettevõtjad, kes olid valmis viima oma ärid ja saadetised horisonditagustesse kaugustesse. Ma leidsin koha, mida tahtsin nimetada koduks.

Kuid lisaks kõigile neile headele asjadele, mida soovisin ära teha, näen nüüd, et poleks olnud turvaline selliste algatustega välja tulla, vähemalt mitte õiguslikus mõttes. Otto de Voogdi juhtum osutab sellele selgesti, sest tema puhul oli tegu igati seaduskuuleka digitaalse teerajajaga. Kui ta alustas bitcoiniga, siis polnud Eestis selle kohta isegi seadusi, ent sellest hoolimata nõudis rahapesu andmebüroo, et ta osaleks iseenda tegevuse vastase juriidilise ettekirjutuse koostamises. See on veider asi, mida nõuda välismaalaselt, kes on oma elu su maal sisse seadnud, ning paneb siin elada soovivate välismaalaste peades idanema kahtluseseemne: „Kui mina oleks püüdnud olla üks neist teerajajatest, kelle eesmärk on ühiskonda mõne uuendusega rikastada ja sel viisil edasi viia, siis kas oleks leidunud mõni sobiv seadusepügal ka minu ootamatuks kohtusseandmiseks? Ja seda mitte õiglust silmas pidades? Just nagu Otto puhul? Kas püütaks tagasiulatuvalt leida mõnes mu tegevuses midagi, mida tembeldada ebaseaduslikuks — hoolimata sellest, et see pole olnud ega ole ka praegu ebaseaduslik üheski teises Euroopa Liidu riigis?”

Ehk on käes aeg, et võtta tagasi regulatsioonid, mis ohustavad neid teisi, mis on loodud meid toetama, ning heastada see õiguslik eksitus ja pretsedent, mis on loodud Otto de Voogdi kaasusega? Ehk peaks lendama mõned pead RABi kontoris, kuna neil ei tundu olevat vajalikku pädevust, ning see loob negatiivse kuvandi meie armsale Eestile? Võib-olla küll. Kuid siit Hollandist on meil raske midagi ette võtta. Niisiis käivitame #freeotto, rõhutades, et see pole mitte hashtag, vaid üleskutse tervele mõistusele. Tunnistame, et meie eriarvamus võib küll tuleneda kultuuritaustast, aga kutsume sellest hoolimata tegudele igaüht, kes võiks teha midagi, et hoida Eesti ühiskond ja õigusruum avatud ning turvaline kõigile, kes tahavad teiega koos elada, luua ja armastada. Me kutsume üles iga õiglusmeelega eestlast, et see teoks teha, ning tagada, et see maa säiliks sellise avatud, õiglase, teadmishimulise ja vaba maana, millisena me seda oleme tundnud. Meie endi jaoks. Otto jaoks. Ja Eesti jaoks. #freeotto

 

 

 

Original, english version:

‪#‎Freeotto‬, Open Letter in support of Otto

In Holland there is turmoil about the FIU approach and ruling of Otto de Voogd, an Estonianized Dutch bitcoin enthusiast who had a ruling heard, that seemed so off the charts, for some, it made people chuckle in utter disbelief. But, next to the laughter, and sympathy for his cause, there is also a push back, of some entrepreneurs not willing to take the risk anymore of setting up shop in “E-stonia”. We are inviting Estonians to speak up, and make Estonia feel like a safe haven for digital pioneers to flock to. Once more.

Cause, we are not coming. Or we have started to hesitate. And I remember clearly how enthusiastic I was myself about moving to Estonia, a year ago. I hated needing to leave my beloved Dutchmen, but I figured out a way to bring the best parts of Holland to my new country. I would set up at start-up in Tallinn, called “Estonianizer”. The simple plan was to invite the most useful and successful Dutch social enterprises, working on services and products to upgrade society, to scale up their projects to Tallinn. To enable them to have a small Estonian branch, and thereby giving their work to the local “open source”, so “free” , but to have that at least become useful for many Estonians, that would otherwise not have benefitted from their works. Services like Share-a-meal, Rank-a-brand, Dare-to-ask, Revaluta Bank, and more things that already works for Holland, could root in Tallinn & Tartu. It was a wild idea, seemingly fitting for a nation that appeared so welcoming to innovation & pioneers.

As I researched the opportunities, I found fellow Dutchmen in Tallinn. One set up a foodbank for the poor, another one, Otto, put a voice in the local bitcoin discussion, and I felt as if their drive was the same as my own. We all loved Estonia, and Estonians. Yes, one very special Estonian lady, each, in particular, but also all the others we’ve come to meet as well. For Estonia seemed a nation of curiosity. I found Political Pirates holding live conferences via webcam. I found Bitcoin conferences with stern debate. I found the base of a worldwide movement to clean the world up. I found restaurantkeepers with informed and nuanced stance on the financial systems. I found entrepreneurs, ready to move their shops & ships to the horizon. I found a place, I wanted to call home.

But, for all the positive things I wanted to create, now I also see, that it would not have been safe to start this up, legally. The case of Otto de Voogd points this out, as he was an honest digital pioneer, and there were no laws about bitcoin when he started, and still he was asked by FIU to participate in creating a claim against himself. Which is a fun thing to ask a foreigner who wants to live in your country. It makes foreigners wanting to live in your country wonder and hesitate: If I would have pioneered in your country, intending only to upgrade it somehow, would there have been a way to sue me for it unexpectedly? Or unfairly? Like with Otto? To figure out, afterwards, what activity could be made into a illegal act, regardless of that doing the same in all other EU nations wasn’t, and still isn’t?

Perhaps, the time has come to backtrack rules that endanger the ones that aim to support you, and correct a legal mistake and precedent, made by trying against Otto de Voogd. Perhaps it’s time to have some heads roll in the FIU, for their competence appears lacking, and it projects negatively upon lovely Estonia. Perhaps. But, residing in Holland, there is little we as supporters of Otto’s cause can do, so we’ll start up #freeotto, stating it is not a hashtag, but a request for common sense, understanding that our bias could be cultural.

So we call forth any other who can do anything and keep Estonia feeling legally safe and open, for all wanting to live and love with you. We call forth any courageous Estonian, to make this happen, and prove the land to have remained, the open, honest, curious and free nation we have come to know it. For ourselves. For Otto. For Estonia. #freeotto

Tjerk Feitsma, founder of the Revaluta Bank, on behalf of #freeotto.