Mozilla suspends cryptocurrency donations following backlash

A smartphone showing the Firefox logo held in front of a data display

Mozilla has temporarily suspended the option to donate cryptocurrencies to the Mozilla Foundation following backlash from users.

The announcement came mere days after the non-profit organisation issued a statement over Twitter reminding its followers that they can make a donation using bitcoin payment service provider BitPay.

This was met with criticism from environmental activists and software developers alike, with Mozilla’s original founder Jamie Zawinski stating that the organisation “should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters”.

April King, who created the site testing tool Mozilla Observatory and the Mozilla SSL Configuration Generator before leaving the organisation in 2020 to join Twitter, said that she “cannot begin to express” her disappointment with the decision to accept cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies have been tied to excessive energy use, with a recent Cambridge University research finding that the annual consumption of Bitcoin is greater than the total energy consumption of the Philippines, which has a population of 110 million. Another study found that only 39% of the electricity powering the Bitcoin mining process comes from renewable sources, with a hefty 61% coming from power stations fuelled by natural gas, oil, and coal.

Twitter users were also quick to point out that supporting cryptocurrencies is at odds with Mozilla’s commitment to reducing emissions and becoming a carbon-neutral organisation.

On Thursday, Mozilla announced that it is “reviewing if and how our current policy on crypto donations fits with our climate goals”.

“And as we conduct our review, we will pause the ability to donate cryptocurrency,” the organisation said in a statement posted to Twitter.

In a response published hours later on his blog, Zawinski said that he is “happy” to have contributed to having Mozilla “rescind that terrible decision”.

However, the option to donate using cryptocurrency may return in the future, with Mozilla adding that “decentralized web technology continues to be an important area (...) to explore”.

The news of the temporary suspension comes hours after Kosovo became the latest nation to ban cryptocurrency mining in an effort to curb energy consumption following a series of blackouts across the country.

Mozilla isn’t the only organisation to face backlash over its stance on cryptocurrencies; Tesla suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin last year due to its high energy use, with the company shifting its attention to alternative, more sustainable cryptocurrencies.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.