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Open Letter to Bitcoin Businesses: Why I'm closing my accounts

bitcoin privacy

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#21 John Wnuk

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:54 AM

Mike, please explain. Have no idea what this means.

"The idea of incorporating some level of such IN A CURRENCY SYSTEM is by contrast, totally nuts."

#22 Georg Engelmann

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 10:50 AM

Quote

consider more deeply the privacy of users

Some financial services tried that, but they no longer exist, because people used their services for money laundering. I guess you will have to start your own business if that's what you want.

#23 Mike Hayes

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 01:00 PM

View PostJohn Wnuk, on 01 November 2014 - 03:54 AM, said:

Mike, please explain. Have no idea what this means.

"The idea of incorporating some level of such IN A CURRENCY SYSTEM is by contrast, totally nuts."

Okay.  Let me use a paper currency as an example.  It is by nature amoral and unthinking.  It is simply parts of dead trees, perhaps sitting on a table.  Governments then create laws which dictate that transfers of this dead tree stuff in and out of banks must be reported above a certain amount.  At this point you have a currency algorithm at work, with behavioral implications for the public and the consumers.

Thus we separate the currency (stacks of crushed dead trees) from the algorithm, and combining them, we have a currency system.

Similarly we can separate the bitcoin protocol from it's usage.  It's usage may include exchanges, brokers, on line wallet companies, and other entities which are not required by the bitcoin protocol.  These commercial interests would dearly love to have a required functionality in the protocol derived from new government regulation.  This is contrary to the expressed intent of the protocol, of course.

By it's very nature and it's acts, such as revealing the membership database publicly, the Bitcoin Foundation cannot be trusted to either maintain the privacy of it's members or the integrity of the BTC protocol.  Hence it is actually a good place to float a proposal such as the Winterhover, for those who find it in their interests to advocate such a thing.

#24 David R Allen

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 02:03 PM

View PostMike Hayes, on 01 November 2014 - 01:00 PM, said:


By it's very nature and it's acts, such as revealing the membership database publicly, the Bitcoin Foundation cannot be trusted to either maintain the privacy of it's members or the integrity of the BTC protocol.  Hence it is actually a good place to float a proposal such as the Winterhover, for those who find it in their interests to advocate such a thing.

*And in response to Georg Englemann who did not agree with Colin's comment "consider more deeply the privacy of users".

I am do not launder money, as I am not a criminal with money that has been stolen or extorted.

My thoughts are my own (at least so far) and I consider those to be private.

What I consider private is my own private concern, and my own choice. If I do or do not like a political candidate, party or system, it is my choice and if I want to share my private concerns in any of these areas it is my choice who I share my thoughts with. If those that I trust with my thoughts decide they want to tell others for financial or other gain, then my trust has been violated. They will never be trusted by me again because they have proven they cannot be trusted.

CONSIDER was Colin's choice of adjective, which lends itself to respectful discussion.

With new administration here at the Bitcoin Foundation, I expect respectful discussion will return and with it respect for our privacy.

#25 Mike Hayes

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:34 PM

View PostDavid Allen, on 01 November 2014 - 02:03 PM, said:

*And in response to Georg Englemann who did not agree with Colin's comment "consider more deeply the privacy of users".

I am do not launder money, as I am not a criminal with money that has been stolen or extorted.

My thoughts are my own (at least so far) and I consider those to be private.

What I consider private is my own private concern, and my own choice. If I do or do not like a political candidate, party or system, it is my choice and if I want to share my private concerns in any of these areas it is my choice who I share my thoughts with. If those that I trust with my thoughts decide they want to tell others for financial or other gain, then my trust has been violated. They will never be trusted by me again because they have proven they cannot be trusted.

CONSIDER was Colin's choice of adjective, which lends itself to respectful discussion.

With new administration here at the Bitcoin Foundation, I expect respectful discussion will return and with it respect for our privacy.
It's rather interesting how often it is thought that raising the Looming Spectre of Money Laundering is the lynchpin argument to stop a discussion.

It's not.  Not in the least.  Arguments made must stand on their own merits or lack of.

Consider the following arguments.

"We need LEO to have full access to Internet users.  It's ALL ABOUT CHILD PORN!  WE MUST STOP CHILD PORN!"

"We need to build a database of license plates.  We can stop CRIME this way."  (A state recently did this, and at the point where they had tracking data on 9,000,000 license plates, they had 5 crimes in which the data assisted to a degree.)

"We must have records of all Cash Bank Transactions above a certain amount reported to the Gobblermint.  They might be Money Laundering."

In each of the above cases - and many others - the abuse by the authorities far, far has exceeded the benefits to society.  In most scenarios of this sort, the actual utilization of the data by the government has little relation to the original supposed cause.

#26 Georg Engelmann

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 12:07 AM

View PostMike Hayes, on 01 November 2014 - 09:34 PM, said:

In each of the above cases - and many others - the abuse by the authorities far, far has exceeded the benefits to society.  In most scenarios of this sort, the actual utilization of the data by the government has little relation to the original supposed cause.
  • Did they take down your website for no reason?
  • Did they seize your car?
  • Did they take your money?
  • What do you mean by "abuse"?
Your life must be difficult, if you feel abused when your government is trying to protect you.

#27 Mike Hayes

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 03:29 PM

View PostGeorg Engelmann, on 02 November 2014 - 12:07 AM, said:

  • Did they take down your website for no reason?
  • Did they seize your car?
  • Did they take your money?
  • What do you mean by "abuse"?
Your life must be difficult, if you feel abused when your government is trying to protect you.

Why is it difficult to understand that a law passed for one espoused reason, might be used for totally different reasons?  ("Law of Unintended Consequences")

There's no need to personalize/ad hominem the argument, there are boatloads of statistics on these matters.

Taking just one of the above talking points -
HOW MANY examples of this abuse of "drug enforcement law" you would like?
https://www.youtube....h?v=lMSaDu1Eh2E

#28 Georg Engelmann

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 04:54 PM

View PostMike Hayes, on 02 November 2014 - 03:29 PM, said:

Why is it difficult to understand that a law passed for one espoused reason, might be used for totally different reasons?  ("Law of Unintended Consequences")

Sure they "might be" used for different reasons, but I don't care about that. And most people don't care.

All this 'anti-government' talk is rather bad for the public image and widespread acceptance of Bitcoin and keeps a lot of people from using it.

#29 Christopher Franko

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 08:29 PM

View PostMike Hayes, on 01 November 2014 - 09:34 PM, said:

It's rather interesting how often it is thought that raising the Looming Spectre of Money Laundering is the lynchpin argument to stop a discussion.

It's not.  Not in the least.  Arguments made must stand on their own merits or lack of.

Consider the following arguments.

"We need LEO to have full access to Internet users.  It's ALL ABOUT CHILD PORN!  WE MUST STOP CHILD PORN!"

"We need to build a database of license plates.  We can stop CRIME this way."  (A state recently did this, and at the point where they had tracking data on 9,000,000 license plates, they had 5 crimes in which the data assisted to a degree.)

"We must have records of all Cash Bank Transactions above a certain amount reported to the Gobblermint.  They might be Money Laundering."

In each of the above cases - and many others - the abuse by the authorities far, far has exceeded the benefits to society.  In most scenarios of this sort, the actual utilization of the data by the government has little relation to the original supposed cause.

Exactly so they reframe it with a nice positive name and everyone willingly gives away their freedom with a smile on their face. Imagine if they named it "The Financial Oppression Act" it just wouldn't get as many thumbs ups.

#30 Mike Hayes

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:40 PM

View PostGeorg Engelmann, on 02 November 2014 - 04:54 PM, said:

Sure they "might be" used for different reasons, but I don't care about that. And most people don't care.

All this 'anti-government' talk is rather bad for the public image and widespread acceptance of Bitcoin and keeps a lot of people from using it.
You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but I'm detecting trolling behavior.  You are welcome to ACTUALLY debate the points I made instead of making unsubstantiated assertions.  There is no "might be", there is "will be as history has shown".

View PostChristopher Franko, on 02 November 2014 - 08:29 PM, said:

Exactly so they reframe it with a nice positive name and everyone willingly gives away their freedom with a smile on their face. Imagine if they named it "The Financial Oppression Act" it just wouldn't get as many thumbs ups.
LOL, you know, Christopher, that's why guys like me speak up and call BULLSHIT when it needs to be called.

Most of the people arguing for low negatives to the comingling of "government interests" and Bitcoin neither understand the exact nature of Bitcoin, neither do they comprehend the full meaning of "government interests."

Please remember that this is not an issue with narrow scope.   If the US or the British government can influence a currency of the people such as Bitcoin, so can the North Korean government.  Thus the very tool to fight oppression and the looping threat of hyperinflation in certain countries (like Argentina) could be suppressed.

But that wouldn't work, think it out.  Did peer to peer die when Napster was targeted?

#31 Mike Hayes

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:45 PM

View PostGeorg Engelmann, on 02 November 2014 - 04:54 PM, said:

All this 'anti-government' talk is rather bad for the public image and widespread acceptance of Bitcoin and keeps a lot of people from using it.
The issue is allowing or not allowing tracking at the transaction level of people and their funds in a currency system.

The idea that to say "NO" to that is anti-government is only true if fascist and totalitarian is the government.

#32 Brad Wheeler

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 04:31 AM

I still have a few questions about Windhover based on what has been shared here (thanks Constance) and elsewhere. From what I've read, Windhover started off as a group of folks on a farm in New Hampshire who discussed "trusted social sovereignty." Their technology appears to be decentralized and is quoted in the response to Colin as being "trustless" - so I'm wondering where the friction is. Is it that a user might not be fully private in all circumstances?

Can anybody here share a business or technical perspective on the risks and benefits compared to what we presently have? That would be helpful for the conversation.

My understanding is that this is a pledge from companies to collaborate on adopting principles on identity management, independent of Bitcoin's development. My sense is that the Bitcoin protocol is unaffected by this - the scope of this would be limited to customers of the companies that are pledging to use this system - even if those companies utilize the Bitcoin block chain.

Does anyone have experience with Open Mustard Seed? Features, pitfalls, examples? If not, should we invite some experts in?

#33 Mike Hayes

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 02:20 PM

View PostBrad Wheeler, on 03 November 2014 - 04:31 AM, said:

I still have a few questions about Windhover based on what has been shared here (thanks Constance) and elsewhere. From what I've read, Windhover started off as a group of folks on a farm in New Hampshire who discussed "trusted social sovereignty." Their technology appears to be decentralized and is quoted in the response to Colin as being "trustless" - so I'm wondering where the friction is. Is it that a user might not be fully private in all circumstances?

Can anybody here share a business or technical perspective on the risks and benefits compared to what we presently have? That would be helpful for the conversation.

My understanding is that this is a pledge from companies to collaborate on adopting principles on identity management, independent of Bitcoin's development. My sense is that the Bitcoin protocol is unaffected by this - the scope of this would be limited to customers of the companies that are pledging to use this system - even if those companies utilize the Bitcoin block chain.

Does anyone have experience with Open Mustard Seed? Features, pitfalls, examples? If not, should we invite some experts in?
You need to start with understanding the history and practice of OpenID.

Then ask why should anyone believe that privacy is enhanced, with the multiplicity of different things we do on the web and the clouds, by moving even more personal and personal aggregated data to the cloud, under the purview of even more different and unknown persons.

This is of course, basically completely nuts.

#34 Brad Wheeler

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 04:45 PM

So your opinion is that this system is doomed to fail on account of technical complexity?

I remember OpenID being poor from a UX perspective. It always seemed like the nerdiest way to gain access to a site. Implementations varied, and it was much less intuitive than FB Connect. Service providers have moved on.

re: privacy and clouds - I'd agree that any service putting data into the cloud introduces risks, and I think the layperson is beginning to understand this. Cloud security should continue to be a growth area, but I don't think this is the end of attempts to put service data in the cloud.

So back to Open Mustard Seed - what are the benefits of this system? How does this simplify life for the user and/or the service provider, and what security considerations are built in? Finally, can it be squished into a user work flow that someone with a 7th grade reading level can understand -- or are we not there yet?

Disclaimer and reminder: These thoughts are my own. I just want to learn more about these developments and perspectives of others on these forums.

#35 Mike Hayes

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 06:29 PM

View PostBrad Wheeler, on 03 November 2014 - 04:45 PM, said:

So your opinion is that this system is doomed to fail on account of technical complexity?

I remember OpenID being poor from a UX perspective. It always seemed like the nerdiest way to gain access to a site. Implementations varied, and it was much less intuitive than FB Connect. Service providers have moved on......
Open Mustard Seed is based on OpenID....

#36 Colin Gallagher

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 06:07 AM

The Foundation clearly needs a new direction.  The level of interest in this post (which reached approximately 12,000 views in a little over 24 hours), and the disturbing lack of interest that some members of Industry have in protecting the privacy and anonymity of the users, is merely one part of the overwhelming evidence suggesting that a larger effort is needed to guard the users against abuse at the hands of certain corporations and organizations.

I thought my next reply to this post would focus essentially on how I'm moving away from use of firms such as BitPay and Coinbase ~ exactly how that is viable, and what I am doing to make it happen.  While I'm not yet ready to provide all the details of how I am walking through that process,  I do want to state that after much thought, I have chosen Electrum Wallet for my initial step away from the centralized services ~ I would like to continue to use Core as I have before, and may do so in the future as it changes and improves, but initially and for the time being, I will remain with Electrum, which is in the process of implementing stealth send as an option, in addition to some other features available via non-mainline plugins.  This process will eventually involve the exchange of a certain amount of my bitcoin (to initially be held in Electrum) for units of currency in more anonymous systems (such as BCN, which is currently available, and Zerocash ~ which treats bitcoin as a base coin ~ when Zerocash is available).  Thus this is not a move away from bitcoin per se, but rather away from the centralized and compromised services that I have referred to in my original post.  I'm actively exploring OpenBazaar on the decentralized market and currency exchange side of this.  I remain open to using web-based services that will implement zero-knowledge practices and are capable of business development in a manner that does not disclose to those managing the service who the users actually are, in keeping with the principles I described in my original post that started this discussion.

However, this reply is not to provide a serious description of the migration process that I've chosen for a path away from centralized services that have compromised and betrayed the users.  Rather, it is to say that I am seriously considering running for a Foundation seat.  I have not yet decided one way or another, but events in the past couple of days have made me seriously consider it.  Should I decide to do so, I will provide a short and sweet platform statement to which I will hold.

#37 Colin Gallagher

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 09:13 PM

So:  I'm running for a Foundation Board seat as an Individual Director.  Here's my platform (bitcointalk, reddit, Foundation forum).

Side note for those who like numbers:
This forum post has now exceeded 13,000 views, which is more than any other forum post in the history of the Foundation.

#38 Mike Hayes

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 10:38 PM

View PostColin Gallagher, on 07 November 2014 - 09:13 PM, said:

So:  I'm running for a Foundation Board seat as an Individual Director.  Here's my platform (Foundation forum, reddit, bitcointalk).

Side note for those who like numbers:
This forum post has now exceeded 13,000 views, which is more than any other forum post in the history of the Foundation.

Seems like it might be a good idea to reverse the cross posting, then.  Have the primary source post be on reddit or bitcointalk.  Or is that what you are saying you did?

I'll certainly nominate you as an individual member, if someone has not already.

#39 Colin Gallagher

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 10:48 PM

View PostMike Hayes, on 07 November 2014 - 10:38 PM, said:

(...) I'll certainly nominate you as an individual member, if someone has not already.

No-one has yet, Mike, and if you will do so I would be happy to be nominated by you.  Thank you.

(I'm also editing my previous post in this thread to re-orient the order of appearance to 'bitcointalk, reddit, and Foundation Forum' to provide an emphasis on other fora.)

#40 Mike Hayes

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 01:16 PM

View PostDavid Allen, on 31 October 2014 - 04:22 PM, said:

.....
And the punch line, Constance and John Henry, is that we will probably never see you again. Because we dared to question your authority, you will make sure this conversation is over, and you will not reply. You will write us off as people who just don't understand, trouble makers, individuals who are damaged, etc.

Or...

you will come back after taking a closer look at who and what you are representing, and be open to a more casual engagement that addresses these individual member's concerns.

I am hoping for the later.

Happy Halloween !
I guess they are gone?

Oh well....



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