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What Bitcoin Did with Peter McCormack

Jun 29, 2022

Seth for Privacy is a privacy advocate and host of the Opt Out Podcast. In this interview, we discuss how financial privacy protects all other rights, the current limitations with Bitcoin’s privacy, and Monero’s protocol privacy that some Bitcoiners find beneficial.

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Most people have slowly acquiesced to the undermining of personal privacy by tech companies. There has been a trade-off: free access to powerful social media software for the monetisation of our data. The problem is a false sense of security has been allowed to fester: there is a material lack of concern that such transgressions could become more malign and overt abuses of power.

The wake-up call for many was the treatment of the Candian truckers. Not many foresaw Bitcoin’s privacy weaknesses being exploited by a western liberal democratic power led by a young charismatic leader. But they were exploited. The Canadian authorities were unrepentant. And there was nothing the truckers could do. Once your privacy is compromised that’s it.

Whilst it is a wake-up (or should be a wake-up call), Bitcoin’s fully auditable pseudonymous transaction history presents significant privacy challenges. That’s not to say that non-technical users can’t improve their privacy using Bitcoin, or that privacy concerns always need to be front and centre of decisions to hold Bitcoin. Rather, there may be another option under certain circumstances.

Monero is an altcoin that some Bitcoiners are willing to adopt given its unique out-of-the-box privacy features. It is being used to complement the use case for Bitcoin. And yet, there is still toxicity from some quarters towards Monero and those who advocate for it. Is this healthy? Does Monero deserve to be treated like other altcoins?

Fundamentally, should Bitcoiners be open to using Monero? Or, do maximalists who have served the community well express warranted concerns? What are the tradeoffs being made and how do they affect users?