Do I need to worry about privacy?
I should probably care more about privacy. Yet I subscribe to many privacy invasive services without reading their terms or questioning the third parties that my information is being sold to. There are many informative videos like this one, that highlight the growing public’s concern about privacy and our reducing lack of control over our valued asset; our personal data.
Commerce and Internet privacy
To start with my personal opinion is that Bitcoin in it’s current form will not replace cash. Bitcoin and the technology behind it is revolutionary. However BItcoin is not quite private and I would say this is probably one of the very few barriers to it’s complete annihilation of the banks. It is becoming obvious that cryptocurrency is filling the privacy gap with currency such as Anoncoin and the integrated private internet i2p. This private monetary and Internet service holds little practical adavantage to most people at this point in time but will become necessary and valuable later on.
Surely it’s only unsavory types that need privacy…right?
The ignorant or biased mainstream media and government officials will frequently refer to private currencies or private Internet use as being only useful to the unfavorable types. The truth is that the real value of privacy is not mainstream yet nor will it be in the foreseeable near future. The chances of privacy invasion will increase, especially if Donald Trump gets his way. Cryptocurrency is often referred to as being as disruptive as the Internet itself, and like with the Internet, cryptocurrencies potential is not completely appreciated or fathomed by most people during the technologies infancy. I’ve tried to explain Bitcoin to family and friends and I normally leave them staring at me with quizzical puzzlement. I guess this was similar to the early stages of the Internet. The other benefits of decentralised and private cryptocurrency is the possibility of us not having to be dependant on dodgy banks. Dodgy banks are illustrated by the recent banking scandals.
In the future I can see privacy centric technologies being as sought after, and as important as the the features and functions that the potential service provides.
The government should not own your privacy!
You may or may not support the Labour party, but regardless of what party you support it was very interesting watching how the government used peoples data against them. An example of government misuse of freely available “private” data is when this social media data helped support the Labour NEC’s decision to purge nearly 200,000 (most likely Jeremy Corbyn supporting members) for weak reasons, such as, a member tweeted support for another party two years before and was purged for this. Another member said on Facebook “I F*#$ing love” the Foo Fighters and thus was a reason to withdraw democracy from this individual. There were thousands of other poor reasons to purge members. This was a wakeup call for many, to the ramifications of having lax privacy. (http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/the-labour-party-purge.html)
Our privacy has been taken from our control by both government and corporations. An example of this is the sale of our NHS records in 2014, the gathering of our data by the NSA (Edward Snowden release 2013), the governments Snoopers charter that allows them to collect all of our data from telecoms and ISP’s (Bill passed in 2016).
Why are people not using more private services now?
Corporations such as Google and Facebook are monetising our efforts and private data, and, while we accept this fact by the acceptance of their terms and conditions we are put into a situation in this early digital media era of having to use monopolistic corporation’s services as there are minimal practical private alternatives with the similar level of adoption.
Your content and private data is benefiting the corporations more than it is you
You may not have noticed but Google has been busy extracting content from sites such as blogs, news outlets and sports pages. When you carry out your search, such as for example for the latest sports information, you are presented with the efforts and articles from a hard working journalist or blogger at the top of the search results ( a summary view) . The person who creates this content is not receiving the traffic, and any of the benefit, unless the search user clicks on the Google article link to the real source. While clicks from Google articles to the source may happen from the search engine user, on many occasions the click does not benefit the content producer as Google has already displayed your extracted content. The content generator has lost out on the recognition, the advertising revenue, membership subscription or whatever the objective of the journalist or site was.
The latter example given of the content provider losing out financially, both directly and in branding value, to large corporations is a typical relationship imbalance happening now. Your ideas, content, private information and communications are examples of this unfairness of the unknown exchange between yourselves and the corporations.
Privileged personal data is something we have all given up in exchange of free services. But is giving away your personal data a fair exchange? Your personal data has immense value and it is being sold off on the cheap. If we owned our own data we could barter and control the price and amount of data we share and with whom we share it.
What has privacy got to do with Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is pseudo anonymous, meaning your transactions are available for all to see on a public network ledger.While this ledger does not divulge your private identification it is easy enough to link the transaction with the enterprise selling the item unless you go out of your way to change your Bitcoin address. This is not so important for people like you and me, it may be important to the takeup of the currency as businesses that benefit from intellectual property or competitive privacy may not want the item or ingredient source being linked to them. Regulations are in the pipeline to try and control Bitcoin’s use, and while this will all be in vain as Bitcoin is decentralised meaning it cannot be shut down easily, it will slow down the takeup in the shorter term.
The future private services filling the privacy gap.
As someone who is passionate about economics, politics and technology I can see Anoncoin being a practical solution to current and future privacy problems. As a speculator I will be investing some money into Anoncoin as it seems to have great potential. It is incredibly undervalued considering it’s steady development. There were a few hiccups during it’s early development but those creases are being ironed out. Although you can buy this coin, I would say this cryptocurrency is still in beta so will not get the interest it deserves till the Zerocoin element of the coin is finalised, but then the price will sky rocket. If you check out the progress of the coin it’s evident that these Zerocoin elements are being completed at a steady pace. This is one to keep an eye on especially if there is another crash or the government continues using our private data in an immoral way.
Monero cryptocurrency is not based on the Bitcoin technology. This prevents it being a real contender as it is not gaining the development potential that Bitcoin based technologies have. As soon as Bitcoin releases an update, Anoncoin has access to this update and benefits from the massive monetary and labour investment in developments. Like Anoncoin, Monero uses I2P which essentially provides a private internet and monetary exchange.
Zcash is another privacy based coin. MIT and academics around the world stopped development on this crytocurrency as there was a massive security flaw that would allow those with the toxic keys the ability to print money. No matter what Zooko et al do to reduce the security hole, the inability to guarantee the security of the coin (even with the multi party key holders), makes this coin a no go. The whole reason Bitcoin has thrived is because it is a trustless network. Zcash requires that you trust the parameters (that the toxic waste has been destroyed). I am not willing to trust this and many of the leading professors that developed this technology and that Zcash includes on it’s site do not believe the Zcash technology is good enough.
There are mixing services that minimise tracability, but many of these cryptocurrencies have been researched by leading academics and the findings show that mixing services do not provide sufficient privacy.
I will eventually do a video on these privacy based technologies as this topic deserves it’s own blog. I tried to be as simplistic as possible.Thus I have not supported my statements about the alternatives with lot’s of evidence. This would include extracts from the white papers and many technical evaluations. Right now Anoncoin is the best contender for Internet and commerce privacy. As privacy becomes an even bigger mainstream issue there will be many more security based technologies coming to the surface providing tools that have a massive impact, such as the privacy effect PGP had for email security.
My assumption is that the privacy based technologies will become novice friendly and consumable, much like email became. Demand for these technologies will grow based on external factors beyond mainstream prediction. The credit card / banking technology has hardly changed since the 70’s. This monetary change will happen to you. One day you’ll notice everyone is using a form of private currency and all the complexities of the underlying cryptocurrency will be irrelevant. I mean do many people question the reason why the notes in your wallet are valuable, and if they did question it’s value, would the notes still be valuable?