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What Bitcoin Did with Peter McCormack

Jun 24, 2022

Matt Odell is host of the Citadel Dispatch and venture partner at Ten31. In this interview, we discuss why each additional positive act of privacy protection improves Bitcoin's resilience and value. Perfecting privacy is not the goal; making a start is, as we don’t know what the future holds.

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Our privacy is continuously being eroded. Current best estimates are that 2.5 million terabytes of data are produced every day. A material amount of that information has extremely lax privacy protection: 98% of Internet of Things data is unencrypted; 83% of companies encrypt less than half the data they store on the cloud; 25% of websites are visited without encryption.

Vast amounts of the data we freely shed are stored, analysed and triangulated for commercial reasons. These tactics are so sophisticated that it’s not uncommon for people to think companies are listening to their conversations.

We are being squeezed for our data in almost all aspects of our lives while cash, traditionally the only semi-private way of transacting, is being removed from society, and CBDCs inch closer to reality. Imagine if companies or governments could access and track your income, store of wealth and all those with whom you transacted. What is currently unnerving behaviour by those who track our data could rapidly become something much more maligned and coercive.

Bitcoin is freedom money. But using bitcoin privately isn’t an easy task. The vast majority of Bitcoin is bought using exchanges that have stringent KYC/AML requirements. When you pair these onramps with surveillance firms like Chainalysis, using bitcoin goes from being pseudonymous to almost entirely transparent. But there are things you can do to gain good privacy with bitcoin. Tools like coinjoin and non-KYC exchanges like Bisq are getting better all of the time, and more and more people are using the Lightning Network for cash like transactions, which offers improved privacy.

Perfect privacy, whether with bitcoin or not, is a pipedream. The goal is to continually improve in protecting a fundamental human right, privacy.