The importance of coins for privacy


George Orwell's 1984 portrays a dystopian future in which Big Brother is everywhere. The company is controlled because there is no privacy: the cameras can follow you everywhere and your news is changed to make sure to praise the leader and the state.

Orwell is often called when people discuss Snowden's documents or the regulations proposed in China for which citizens will soon receive a social credit score in 2020. To maintain their control, the state limits freedom and tries to know a lot about its citizens as much as possible

Many of us are aware that our online presence is being monitored by most websites, but since many of us in the western world are moving to a cashless society, our spending habits are also closely monitored. The cashless society is a rather new phenomenon. Before, money was the king. The problem for those in power is that money is much harder to track. If I do not have access to an offshore bank account but I want to keep my purchases secret, be they legal or illegal, then money is the way to go.

Criticism of private currencies is common and is usually the same as criticism of Bitcoins – which are only used for drugs or money laundering. While both are possible, I believe there is still a case for privacy in finance. With Bitcoin you can remain pseudonym but not anonymous. Therefore, it is possible to keep track of where people are sending their money.

Is privacy a citizens' right?

The battle over privacy continues between governments and citizens. For the government, preventing terrorist attacks through snooping is their goal. Cryptography and privacy are, according to governments, tools that prevent the government from blocking such attacks. For privacy activists, there are many topics that they pursue. First of all, allow the privacy of citizens to limit the power of the state. The Gestapo and the Stasi were both examples of totalitarian states that exerted too much control. Privacy allows freedom of association, in particular to political activities. Other advantages include the trust that shows between a government and its citizens.

While terrorists can use privacy for their activities, many innocent people do it. Is it right to prohibit or restrict privacy for the extremely small part of the company that abuses it? Personally, as a law-abiding citizen, I do not want the option of digital privacy-enabled transactions to commit illegal activities. Rather, I believe it is an element of trust required by the state to its citizens. I'm innocent, so it should not be treated automatically as if I were guilty.

As citizens, there are some state secrets that are not allowed to be known due to security problems. When Snowden's papers were published, many of the criticisms of Edward Snowden were related to the idea that had put the lives of many people at risk. If this were the case it is certainly debatable. The hypocrisy is located within the military industrial complex that many Western states have accumulated. The weapons are sold to Saudi Arabia (and many other questionable regimes) at an alarming rate. This despite the protests against the war in Yemen and its tragic consequences. Furthermore, the recent scandal with which the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, presumably by order of the Crown Prince, has done little to reduce these trends.

Generally, it is a rule for those responsible and another for the plebs.

Privacy has diminished

A subject formulated by governments is that the Internet has created more channels for private communication. This is a contortion of facts and words. What has actually happened is that the possibility of espionage has dramatically increased thanks to the connectivity of modern society through tools like the Internet. Like a child with a bowl of sweets, the state can not resist diving. Yes, cryptographic techniques are advanced, but most of the public does not have the technical skills to use such techniques or chooses not to do it anyway.

Before raising credit / debit cards and the Internet, snooping on phone calls or cash transactions was much more difficult. While cryptography techniques have improved thanks to academics and the rise of computers, it is naive to believe that both the NSA and the GCHQ are not at the forefront of such technologies. The San Bernardino case highlighted it. When the perpetrator's iPhone was confiscated by the FBI, an ongoing debate ensued between them and Apple. Apple was refusing to provide the encryption code needed for the FBI. The scandal eventually led Apple to remain strong, until it was revealed that the FBI has the technical know-how to unlock the phone anyway. The whole charade was trying to trap the corporations to deliver private data to the government in an easier way.

Private coins like Monero are not the only cryptocurrencies that seek to increase privacy. The Lightning network hopes to increase privacy even with Bitcoin. The consistent criticisms they continue to receive are quite right. However, I still believe that I have the right to private communication and private transactions, and there is little that the media or mainstream government can do to make me change my mind.

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