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On this fourth halving day, April 19, 2024, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is proud to announce the launch of the Finney Freedom Prize, an award designed in Hal Finney’s memory to celebrate global achievements in the area of Bitcoin and human rights.

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The first Finney Prize goes posthumously to Hal for his historic contributions during Bitcoin’s first halving era: from 2009 to 2012, before the block height of 210,000. HRF has produced an animated video explaining Hal’s contributions to human freedom and the idea behind a prize in his name. We encourage you to watch.

Moving forward, a Genesis Committee will nominate potential Finney Prize Laureates for the 2012-2016, 2016-2020, and 2020-2024 eras, and the finalists will be announced on Running Bitcoin Day, Jan. 10, over the next three years. The remaining 28 Finney Prizes will be awarded on a quadrennial basis over the next 110 years on each halving day. Prize-winners will be people or organizations that have done the most for Bitcoin and human rights in each halving era. Each Finney Prize consists of a physical award and a monetary prize of 1 BTC. The Finney Prize will end at block height 6,930,000, projected to happen sometime in the 2130s, when Bitcoin’s issuance will get reduced from one satoshi to zero.

Hal Finney was a renowned civil liberties and privacy advocate, open-source software developer, and electronic cash pioneer. He invented the immediate predecessor to Bitcoin (RPOW) and was the first person after Satoshi Nakamoto to run the Bitcoin software and receive a Bitcoin transaction. Known for his mantra, “The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them,” Hal spent decades working on open-source privacy and freedom software. His career culminated in making historic contributions to Bitcoin in the project’s early years, before his life was tragically cut short by ALS in 2014. He continued to code and support human freedom until his final days. Read more about Hal’s career and achievements here.

The Prize is launched with the blessing of Fran Finney, Hal’s remarkable wife and partner. Watch her statement about the prize here. To help HRF and the Finney Family select laureates for the second, third, and fourth halving eras, the seven-person Genesis Committee was formed as follows:

Farida Nabourema: Founder, Africa Bitcoin Conference

Lisa Neigut: Co-founder, Base58; lead organizer, bitcoin++

Obi Nwosu: Founder and CEO, Fedi; board member, Btrust

Ross Stevens: Founder and CEO, Stone Ridge Asset Management

Aaron van Wirdum: Cypherpunk historian; author, “The Genesis Book”

Vitus Zeller: Co-founder, Running Bitcoin

Gloria Zhao: Bitcoin core developer; fellow, Brink

The selection criteria for Laureates encompasses several key areas, including: educating large audiences about Bitcoin; demonstrating Bitcoin’s potential for individual financial sovereignty; making significant contributions to Bitcoin’s codebase and tools; promoting decentralization and resilience of the Bitcoin network; increasing accessibility to Bitcoin (especially for human rights activists in need of privacy and security features); and advancing technological innovations to expand Bitcoin adoption, particularly in authoritarian regimes.

The Finney Freedom Prize treasury, initially funded with 33 BTC by HRF, will ensure the sustainability of the award for future generations. 1 BTC is being distributed to charity on Fran Finney’s guidance in Hal’s honor, and the remaining treasury is publicly verifiable here.

For more information about the Finney Freedom Prize and updates on laureates, please visit finneyprize.org.

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