Privacy is a complex issue. Very few people would argue that privacy is not important. It is usually more interesting to talk about controversial issues. Thus, the limited arguments against privacy are actually somewhat annoying to discuss and easy to accept. As Edward Snowden famously said: “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.”
However, what if your privacy is not a priority? What if your privacy is not guaranteed? What if what you do is always under surveillance?
You can fight back.
Unfortunately, this is actually the state of the cryptocurrency industry, and there are not enough people in the fight to protect privacy.
Transparency vs. privacy
When I first read the Bitcoin (BTC) white paper in 2011, I fell in love with the vision of the peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Most societies have physical cash – legal tender – so, in a digital society, what is the equivalent of physical cash? Satoshi Nakamoto seems to have come up with an elegant answer to this question and a multi-trillion dollar market has emerged around it. Sadly, Satoshi’s original concept has fallen short in at least one case and it is confidentiality.
Legal tenders are private. When someone exchanges coins or banknotes (aka “bills” in the US and Canada) for a good thing or service, the transaction is known only to the two parties involved. Identification is requested if good or service is limited to a certain age group (beer run not for everyone). In addition, if you bill a woman at the local farmer’s market for ড 10, she won’t be able to see how much money she has in your bank account.
However, transactions in the Bitcoin blockchain are largely transparent. This means that the transaction volume, frequency and balance are all open to the public. The Bitcoin White Paper devotes only half a page to privacy that comes with proposed functionality that doesn’t always work as intended, especially for second-generation account-based blockchains such as Ethereum.
There are user guides on how to achieve more privacy using Bitcoin, but they recommend using tools that are extremely complex and can be dangerous for users in general. There are some blockchain networks that are designed with privacy as the default, but most do not support more complex programmability like smart contracts, which enables new use of business logically in decentralized financing (DFI).
Related: DPN vs. VPN: The dawn of decentralized web privacy
Privacy leaves behind
Why is the blockchain community lagging behind privacy as a level one priority? For one, Privacy has taken a seat behind the other three priorities: Security, decentralization and scalability. No one would argue that these three elements are not important. But do they have to be mutually exclusive for privacy?
Another reason is not to prioritize privacy It is very difficult to guarantee. Historically, privacy tools such as zero-knowledge proof were slow and inefficient, and it was difficult to make them more scalable. But, just because privacy is hard, doesn’t that mean it shouldn’t be a priority?
The last reason is probably the most worrying. There is a myth in the media Crypto transactions are completely anonymous. They don’t. This means that many people are actively using crypto in the confusion that their transactions are private. As blockchain network analysis tools become more sophisticated, the lack of anonymity increases. So, when does privacy become important enough to prioritize it?
Related: Bitcoin will no longer be seen as an unknown ‘crime coin’
A friend of mine who has worked fulltime in the crypto industry since 2015 recently asked me, “Is WTF PriFi?” Privacy, or “privacy finance,” is the recognition of the crypto industry that we have royally broken with privacy. We’ve gotten so bad 12 years after the evolution of this industry that we’re now reaching exactly where privacy is important enough for its own hashtag.
So, where do we go from here to create more privacy that protects everyday crypto users and achieves cash equivalent digital privacy?
The first step is More education. As society becomes more digital, privacy is becoming harder to achieve. It starts with educating the media about the difference between privacy and confidentiality. Doesn’t want privacy Anyone To know something. Doesn’t want privacy The whole world To know something. Privacy is a privilege. Privacy is a right.
The next step is To make privacy easier. Achieving privacy in crypto will not require tedious solutions, shady tools or deep skills in complex cryptography. Blockchain networks, including smart contract platforms, should support virtual privacy that is as simple as clicking a button.
The final step is To protect privacy. Privacy is a timely issue. The recent U.S. Infrastructure Bill includes a clause extending Section 6050I of the Tax Code, which requires separate adversaries to collect each other’s personal information for cash transactions over $ 10,000, and this applies to cryptocurrencies. The Coin Center, a crypto nonprofit advocacy and research group, is preparing to challenge the constitutionality of this change for crypto. You can too, here.
Equipped with proper education, an intuitive user experience, and the motivation to prioritize privacy over crypto, we can defend our rights without recklessness and maintain intelligent privacy on our own terms.
The opinions, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Warren Paul Anderson Vice President of Discrete Labs Products, which is developing a public blockchain Findora with programmable privacy. Previously, Warren led the product at Ripple for 4.5 years, working on XRP laser, interlaser and pay string protocols; RippleX platform; And Replenet’s on-demand liquidity enterprise products. Prior to Ripple, in 2014, Warren Headgear co-founded Bitcoin, one of the first DFI platforms for derivatives using the Escrow Smart Agreement, programmable in the blockchain.