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The Big Ruse: Anonymity != Privacy

Anonymity and privacy are often used interchangeably in Bitcoin and crypto circles, but they don’t have the same goals.

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Today in crypto, if you ask most developers and even some self-proclaimed experts and speakers at conferences, what the difference is between anonymity and privacy, you will get some blank looks. That is because most people will think the two are the same… when they can’t be any more different. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum in fact. But the powers that be, would like to muddy the waters so that many people think that they are the same. In truth, what we as law-abiding citizens want is privacy, but anarchists and criminals (under the guise and narrative of libertarianism and anti-statism) have made it seem like anonymity is the only way for individuals to enjoy freedom from an oppressive state.

Masking the real goals

What is in fact happening, is that criminals are using the gullible to mask their goals in order to create a system where getting away with criminal activities becomes easier when they’re hidden by legal transactions performed by others.

This brainwashing became very apparent to me after a recent discussion I had with a hardline Lightning Network supporter and BTC maximalist. Given the recent news that MIT Digital Media Labs’ Joi Ito has unceremoniously stepped down from his director post following a scandal where he was directly and personally liable for taking on donations from the late Jeffrey Epstein (the child sex ring mastermind), many long term BTC supporters have been scrambling to explain away the scandal as not affecting the foundations of many BTC startups’ raison d’etre.

You see it as a recurring theme in many of the top 10 cryptocurrencies: anonymity. For some of them such as Monero and Zcash, it is their whole reason for existence. For others like BTC and BCH, it is the main focus of their development community efforts.

To find out the shocking truth that most of the reasons for wanting these features have been to facilitate child sex slave trafficking rings for the rich and powerful of the world is a very very big wake-up call. But it is one that is needed, and in retrospect, how could people have been so naive?

If you ask them why anonymity is important, any ethical, moral developers or BTC supporters will say that it is because of decentralization, or to protect the individual from an overbearing State. But that is just the narrative, and it is only skin deep. Probe further by asking any of these people if they considered that criminals may find their libertarian features useful as well, and they will answer something like “criminals use USD more” as a defense.

Look at how BTC really gets used

But is that really a valid defense? If you think about the relative size of the BTC market today, or the number of transactions that are executed on a daily basis, and how much of that volume is illegal or criminal transactions, you may be shocked to learn that it is most of them.

Don’t believe me? Just list out the things that Bitcoin has been used most publicly and most effectively for in its 10 year life span:

  1. Silk Road – an illegal drug and assasination market
  2. Illegal exchanges
  3. Illegal fund raising
  4. Tax evasion
  5. Hacking exchanges
  6. Extortion Malware (crypto locker)
  7. Money Laundering
  8. Sending large amounts of money to get around money transmission laws
  9. an occasional T-shirt or merchandise purchase

All of the above except for the last are criminal activities.

By far the most popular section on the Silk Road was illegal hard drugs. How many sons and daughters died from overdose on these? Nobody hears about these statistics.

Given that over 90% of BTC’s use cases have been criminal, and seeing it is still at present in just a fraction of global economic activities, it stands to reason that if BTC scaled up to global scale, then we would be seeing a LOT more criminal activity conducted vs. a world without BTC.

This is why we must draw the line in the sand AGAINST ANONYMITY or any technology that makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes. Yes, we all would love to ‘pay less’ taxes we think are unfair — but tax evasion is a crime. And if we start to make judgments that some laws are worth obeying but others aren’t, then we don’t agree on the Rule of Law, and we are anarchists.

Making it harder to be corrupt

At the end of the day, there will be corrupt governments, and corrupt people, and a system of accountability should treat them both the same. Any system which professes to ‘protect the people’ against the evil people in governments is generally ignoring the fact that evil people exist outside of government as well.

This is why BSV strives to make it harder for criminals to use it to conduct business, with tools in the works to trace coins, and to confiscate them if a court orders it.

Basically, BSV is made to be compliant with laws. And if some laws seem less fair than others, then BSV will be a tool to help improve those laws by making the law makers themselves accountable and trackable.

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