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About the prize

In 2024, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) created the Finney Freedom Prize with the blessing and approval of Fran Finney, wife and partner of the civil liberties advocate, software developer, and Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney.

The Finney Freedom Prize will be awarded to the person who does the most for Bitcoin and human rights in each halving era. Hal thought that the computer could be a tool to liberate people, not to repress them. He was a pioneer of digital privacy and electronic cash systems, and eventually stood alongside Satoshi Nakamoto to help develop Bitcoin in its earliest days. The Prize was created to honor Hal for his lifelong dedication to digital liberty, and to recognize those who, like him, strive to help make Bitcoin a better tool for freedom.

The Prize will come in two parts: first, a physical award, and second, a monetary prize of 1 BTC / 100,000,000 satoshis.

The Prize will consist of 33 Prizes, one for each Bitcoin halving era. The first Prize, for the 2009-2012 era, will be announced on the day of the 2024 halving. The second Prize, for the 2012-2016 era, will be announced on January 10, 2025, to coincide with efforts to commemorate Hal’s legacy. The third prize, for the 2016-2020 era, will be announced on January 10, 2026, and the fourth prize, for the 2020-2024 era, will be announced on January 10, 2027. The Prize for the 2024-2028 era will be announced on the 2028 halving day, and the rest of the prizes will follow in that fashion, until the final 33rd prize, which will be announced on the last halving, when the Bitcoin subsidy drops from one satoshi to zero, somewhere around the year 2140.

The first Laureate for the 2009-2012 era is Hal Finney. For the next three eras (2012-2016, 2016-2020, 2020-2024), HRF and the Finney Family will appoint a “Genesis Committee” of seven individuals to help find suitable Laureates. Beginning with the 2024-2028 era, and moving forward, a new committee of seven individuals will be appointed to guide the process. Each Committee Member will be responsible for nominating their own successor for the consideration of the Prize Directors, who will ultimately decide the composition of each Committee. Each Committee Member will serve four-year terms and will not be eligible to serve more than one term. These individuals will either a) be experts in freedom technology or b) originate from or have expertise in closed or closing societies. They will have varying areas of focus in the Bitcoin space ranging from education to investment to entrepreneurship to open-source software development. Previous Laureates can be considered to serve as Committee Members. Committee Members are eligible to receive the Finney Prize.

Each Committee will select and submit a shortlist of 5 potential Laureates to the Prize Directors no less than 21 days before each halving. The Prize Directors will choose one or two Laureates from each list to receive the Prize for each era. In the event that an era has two Laureates, they will each receive a physical award, and will split the monetary award, 50,000,000 satoshis each. After the public revealing of each Laureate, the shortlist will be published (in ranked order) for posterity at finneyprize.org.

Laureates are to be chosen for the contributions during the relevant halving era, not for their achievements or actions or statements before that era, and not after that era. For example, for the 2012-2016 Laureate’s work before 2012 and after 2016 can only be minimally considered in the selection process. The Prize will be announced online, and there will be no physical ceremony.

The Prize will aim to celebrate individuals who excel across the following categories in each specific halving era:

• Educate large numbers of people about Bitcoin. For Hal, that may have been thousands; for the Prize winners, it will be millions
• Demonstrate, over time and at scale, how people can use Bitcoin to be their own banks and achieve more individual freedom
• Make vital contributions to Bitcoin’s codebase and/or Bitcoin tools
• Help the Bitcoin network become more decentralized and resilient
• Help Bitcoin become more accessible to the average person and especially to human rights activists who need special privacy and security-minded features
Help to open Bitcoin to new people around the world, especially under authoritarian governments, through open-source technological innovation
• Follow in the footsteps of cypherpunks like Hal and contribute to the struggle for more digital privacy