Computers, Privacy & the Constitution

Bitcoin could never secure the privacy of transactions anyway, but people just liked that it wasn't based on the banking system

-- By MorreaseLeftwich - 19 Mar 2022

David Chaum showed how

According to its whitepaper, bitcoin was meant to overcome the “inherent weaknesses of the trust based model” that is being relied on for transactions over the net. Satoshi Nakamoto presented a few specific benefits, but it was always clear that privacy was probably primary. However, it is also well-known that Nakamoto is but a fictional character. And while there is, of course, no guarantee that the intention imputed to the character matches that of the genuine founder, many have adopted the technology as a way to secure the privacy of their transactions. But it is apparent that Americans’ adoption of bitcoin is not simply for privacy concerns, as their interest in alternative payment systems would have been piqued earlier, for example, by David Chaum’s proposed system of "BLIND SIGNATURES FOR UNTRACEABLE PAYMENTS". That proposal would not require ditching the modern banking system, but would instead only make payments via banks untraceable with the use of public and private keys. And while Americans often raise privacy concerns in their day-to-day lives, most do little to protect our privacy more generally, usually entrusting much of their personal and confidential information to intermediaries. Of course, for most of the relationships formed by such entrustments, there is no legally recognized privilege. But still, for either convenience or insurance, Americans entrust our information to intermediaries anyway. Moreover, in the case of bitcoin, its technology, which purposefully encrypts the identity of its holders, will not be able to overcome threats to anonymity as Americans continue to allow our concerns for convenience and insurance to predominate. But at the same time, the adoption of bitcoin by so many might evidence an increasing discontent among us with the monetary system “based on government debt” (Debt: The First 5000 Years), which could potentially be catalyzed into effective action if paired with relevant knowledge.

It would be inaccurate to assume that bitcoin’s adoption by so many has been for a shared purpose. While for many, privacy and detachment from the banking system is primary, for many others the adoption of bitcoin has only been for market-based gambling, which is more accessible in the nascent cryptocurrency market than in the more mature markets, like the foreign exchange and stock markets. It is unclear which group stands as a majority, but it is certainly true that the traders have been louder than the rest for years now. Of course, the two groups have totally different hopes for the future of bitcoin, with the traders standing to benefit from a secure commodity, potentially government regulated, while the other group would almost certainly rather bitcoin mature in a way that is independent of, and different from, the modern financial system. The ideological victor became easier to identify after the cryptocurrency community more generally welcomed the executive order passed by President Biden to [[http://...][“ensur[e] responsible development of digital assets.”]]

It may be so that even those who initially adopted bitcoin for its revolutionary characteristics have now come to realize its ineffectiveness for that purpose; and that may be the reason for their relative silence. But the fact that they ever thought that bitcoin could be their savior caused them to waste time in reliance on the potential they perceived in it (at least they profited). To prevent a repeat, we all must learn more about the nature of money, perhaps most usefully from a historical lens, for example, as described in David Graeber’s (Debt: The First 5000 Years), so that we may recognize the difference between monetary evolution and revolution.


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r4 - 14 May 2022 - 19:29:25 - MorreaseLeftwich
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