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Edward Snowden's NFT sold for $5.5 million at auction for charity

The proceeds will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Newly released "Permanent Record" by Edward Snowden is displayed on a shelf at Books Inc. on September 17, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency employee and contractor for the National Security Agency, alleging the book violates non-disclosure agreements.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Mariella Moon
Mariella Moon|@mariella_moon|April 17, 2021 4:05 AM

Edward Snowden's NFT has sold for a whopping 2,224 Etherium or around $5.5 million at an auction that lasted for a day. Entitled Stay Free, the digital artwork uses the pages from the landmark court ruling that found the National Security Agency's mass surveillance activities to be in violation of the law to form an image of the whistleblower's face based on a photo taken by Platon. It was made using open source software, and like other NFTs, was signed and verified.

Stay Free's auction result far surpasses the already-outrageous amount of money ($2.9 million) Jack Dorsey got for an NFT of his first tweet last month. Like Dorsey, Snowden won't be pocketing the auction's proceeds: the money will go towards the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the non-profit org where he serves as president. 

NFTs or non-fungible tokens are usually pieces of photos, videos and other digital objects that have been signed and verified by the creator. When someone buys an NFT, they get ownership of a unique piece of code that's stored on a blockchain. As we wrote in our in-depth explanation of what NFTs are, "[Y]ou can duplicate a file a thousand times and they’ll all turn out the same, but only the one tied to an NFT is the real deal." 

While NFTs could help out artists and creators, more and more people have started raising concerns about their environmental impact. When an artist "mints" their work onto a blockchain so that they can make an NFT, they start a process that uses a lot of computing power and energy. The Freedom of the Press vows to purchase carbon offsets equivalent to the footprint of Snowden's NFT and "will share specifics on that process soon."

Edward Snowden's NFT sold for $5.5 million at auction for charity