Emerging Technologies

You can now donate to Unicef by mining cryptocurrency 

A 12-inch wafer is displayed at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in Xinchu January 9, 2007. TSMC, the world's top contract chip maker, posted an 18.4 percent fall in December sales on January 10, hurt by clients' unwanted stockpiles, but a recovery looms as a new crop of electronics devices hit store shelves. Picture taken January 9, 2007.  REUTERS/Richard Chung (TAIWAN) - RTR1L1ID

Donating, like you've never done before. Image: REUTERS/Richard Chung

Kristin Houser
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Emerging Technologies

Want a new way to improve the lives of children across the globe? Just do what you’re probably doing right now: browsing the internet.

The Australian branch of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) just launched The HopePage. Open the site in your browser, and it’ll use your computer’s processing power to mine the cryptocurrency monero. Any mined coin is automatically donated to UNICEF Australia, which spends it on clean water, food, and vaccines for vulnerable children.

This isn’t the first time UNICEF has dabbled in crypto mining to raise funds. In February, the organization launched its Game Chaingers project, which sought to raise funds for children in Syria by targeting computer gamers.

Game Chaingers fell short of its fundraising goal, but it also required users to download mining software. The HopePage requires users to do even less, thanks to Coinhive’s AuthedMine tool. This is a version of the same mining tool that landed Coinhive in hot water back in October because sites were using it without visitors’ permission, but this tool solves the problem by allowing to opt in.

Tony Andres Tang, UNICEF Australia’s digital engagement and content manager, was sure to make the distinction between The HopePage and these past Coinhive exploits. “We are transparent in the fact we are borrowing a computers’ processing power, and provide the ability to choose how much power is donated,” Tang said in an interview with iTnews. “The HopePage is entirely user-initiated, and they have the ultimate power to decide whether to participate or not.”

Image: The HopePage/Unicef

Other organizations are turning to crypto mining to bankroll their humanitarian efforts. In October, creative developer/designer Mike Bodge built Donate Your Tab, a site that lets users choose a cause from a dropdown menu and then mine monero to support it. A number of other sites, including The Charity Mine, Mining For Humanity, and Mining for Charity, seem to have started to mine crypto for charity, only to eventually abandon it.

Whenever an internet user comes across a site that mines crypto for charity, it can be hard to tell whether or not that particular site is up to anything sketchy. Indeed, the crypto world has no shortage of scams; it’s proven to be a great place for bad actors to prey upon people’s good intentions for their own benefit. In January, Reddit users busted a fake charity supposedly collecting crypto donations to feed starving Venezuelans; back in 2016, scammers pocketed bitcoin donations intended for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

People actively donated crypto to those “charities,” and scammers might assume its even easier to dupe people into donating via a more passive mining operation.

But UNICEF is a real organization with a solid reputation, so The HopePage is probably the real deal. If the organization is able to raise funds through this project, perhaps other legitimate charity organizations will follow suit.

That’s good news all around. Who wouldn’t want to make the world a better place while admiring cute animal photos on the internet? Answer: no one.

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