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Olivier Janssens

Deep concern about the foundation's chairman of Law and Policy (Mike Hearn) pushing for coin taint

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Me, and many others in the bitcoin community are deeply concerned about Mike Hearn pushing for coin taint. We feel that if the Bitcoin Foundation is even going to consider mentioning this in the upcoming government meeting, that we can no longer stand behind them. This is serious. Coin taint is even worse than increasing the 21 million limit. Since the chairman of Law and Policy is involved here, I would like to call for a vote against this, and a clear stance from the Bitcoin Foundation. I know many of the board members are supporters of mixing coins even more, so something like this can never happen again. It would be a good message to the bitcoin community to confirm that the foundation supports keeping coins anonymous, instead of going in the opposite direction.

 

Ongoing VOTE on coin taint: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=334051.0

 

Ongoing VOTE on the removal of Mike Hearn as Chair of the Bitcoin Foundations Law & Policy committee (sorry Mike, people feel that strong about it): https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=334185.0

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This disturbs me. Nobody is implementing anything. This is just a theoretical discussion.

 

You really want to censor a discussion on technical possibilities?

Since when is the bitcoin community into censorship?

 

Mike Hearn is one of our best assets. He works f***ing hard! Who is going to step up for this job if you all threaten to recall people who hold conversations on tough topics?

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Todd Erickson    212

Can you post what proposal is in question? I could not find anything definitive.

 

In Banking and Business today, tools like Telecheck, Check Systems, AML/BSA Patriot Act Lists are all collaborative tools that organizations use to voluntarily "share" experiences with "bad" bank accounts/account holders. (well, usually voluntarily..)

 

Since I could not find anything that indicated a protocol or software change was being proposed, then the discussion would just be how Bitcoin businesses with/without Government participation could share information about fraud from specific addresses. This would seem to be worthy of a discussion since so many other solutions are in place today and help businesses avoid losses.

 

Again, I could not find any details on the topic, but it sounds like a business mans solution to Credit Card/Check Fraud but for Bitcoin.

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Peter Todd    93

Adam Back, as usual, has an excellent response:

 

This is not about crime, nor identifying perpetrators, its about fungibility; they are (perhaps surprisingly) orthogonal payment system properties.

 

An electronic cash system, must have irrevocability, which as we discussed here is how bitcoin can achieve low cost and efficiency relative to credit cards & paypal. Coin anonymity is necessary for fungibility, but that is strictly about fungibility, identity level privacy is separate.

-https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=333882.msg3585877#msg3585877

 

Irreversibility of transactions is a key attribute of Bitcoin, and a key reason why Bitcoins have value. The reality is any type of blacklist, redlist, whatever you want to call it, marks coins as "different" Even worse, this can and will happen after the fact. Adam's point about costs is also apt:

 

Destroy [bitcoin's] fungibility and the costs float up to meet credit cards and paypal.

-https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=333882.msg3582302#msg3582302

 

While people see Bitcoin as representing a variety of things, one of the most common beliefs in the community is that Bitcoin should be a low-cost and irrevocable method of payment. I think what's interesting about this recent flare up, is from the sounds of it perhaps what Coin Validator is planning to do is simply a technically misguided way for businesses to verify the identities of those they transact with. Sure the technical details are all wrong - from what they've said it's based on trusted addresses, a major privacy concern - but the basic concept of making it easier to determine the legal identities of who you choose to transact with is reasonable in some circumstances.

 

On the other hand what Mike Hearn is bringing up, yet again after a thorough discussion and heavy criticism the last time, is about the coins themselves. Now ask yourself: Do we want a world where it was common for normal, average, businesses to find out that the cash money they received in good faith is suddenly suspect because apparently someone multiple steps back did something illegal in some jurisdiction to get it? No sane business would choose to accept such cash if they had an alternative, and when considering whether or not to accept Bitcoin, businesses do have alternatives already like PayPal and credit cards.

 

The fact that Bitcoin transactions can be traced using publicly available data, broadcast to the whole world, is a flaw, end of story. It's a flaw bad enough that regulators are beginning to take notice, warning about the privacy dangers of Bitcoin! The flaw is a consequence of the underlying technology, but we can and should fix it to the best of our abilities. Embedding this flaw even deeper into the way we use Bitcoin would be a serious mistake and the Foundation should make it absolutely clear to the community that they will not make that mistake.

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This disturbs me. Nobody is implementing anything. This is just a theoretical discussion.

 

You really want to censor a discussion on technical possibilities?

Since when is the bitcoin community into censorship?

 

Mike Hearn is one of our best assets. He works f***ing hard! Who is going to step up for this job if you all threaten to recall people who hold conversations on tough topics?

 

Who talked about censoring? We made it very clear that the bitcoin community is totally against coin taint. Apparently they also have an increasing problem with the direction Mike Hearn is going in. He has made other really controversial statements in the past. On another note, working hard is not related to anything. People can work hard on the wrong things.

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Does this forum not have a polling function? Or are you just trying to skew the votes by getting a bunch of troll votes?

Count me against this poorly thought up attempt at a purge.

 

Are you calling the bitcoin community a bunch of trolls? This is not an attempt at a purge, this is a response from the community, which doesn't have access to this forum!

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Peter Todd    93

This disturbs me. Nobody is implementing anything. This is just a theoretical discussion.

 

You really want to censor a discussion on technical possibilities?

Since when is the bitcoin community into censorship?

 

We've had the theoretical discussion before, multiple times. The technology involved isn't very interesting from a legal perspective and doesn't deserve more discussion. There's near consensus in the community that it's a very bad idea, for multiple reasons, regardless of your thoughts about privacy and anonymity.

 

If you want to discuss it further, knock yourself out. But there is every reason for community members to be worried when someone in a position of power - Mike Hearn is chair of the Foundation Legal and Policy committee - starts promoting a discredited and dangerous idea yet again. It's like finding out in 1940 that the chair of your local electricity board thinks the town needs a direct current feed and that Tesla guy got it all wrong. Sure, his arguments for DC may sound convincing to some people who are unfamiliar with the technology, but the discussion's long been settled in favor of AC by those who are.

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Who talked about censoring?

Apparently they also have an increasing problem with the direction Mike Hearn is going in.

 

Maybe you don't understand how censorship works. If you threaten to fire somebody for discussing a topic, that's censorship.

 

Look, if Mike Hearn had taken an action that you disagreed with, then go ahead and recall him. But in this case, all he's done is raise a topic for discussion!

 

Let me put it a different way—you don't want a Law & Policy Chair who talks about the benefits of Coin Tainting. Do you agree? You want to recall any chair who talks about that?

 

That's censorship.

 

Grow some balls and prove him wrong if you disagree. Use your intelligence to engage in debate. Don't pretend to recall him for raising the issue.

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Maybe you don't understand how censorship works. If you threaten to fire somebody for discussing a topic, that's censorship.

 

Look, if Mike Hearn had taken an action that you disagreed with, then go ahead and recall him. But in this case, all he's done is raise a topic for discussion!

 

Let me put it a different way—you don't want a Law & Policy Chair who talks about the benefits of Coin Tainting. Do you agree? You want to recall any chair who talks about that?

 

That's censorship.

 

Grow some balls and prove him wrong if you disagree. Use your intelligence to engage in debate. Don't pretend to recall him for raising the issue.

 

What Peter Todd said above.

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I don't have any particular opinion on what we should talk about. I'm aware of the arguments for and against such a scheme. I'm interested in new insights or thoughts. You can review the bitcointalk thread on decentralised crime fighting to get a feel for what has already been said.

 

I think this is a topic on which the Foundation should eventually arrive at a coherent policy for. Of course I know that won't be easy.

 

Wow, such dangerous radical thoughts! This man is trying to destroy Bitcoin! Hide your children!

 

Seriously? We'll talk about rebuking Mike Hearn when he actually agitates in favor of the approach. Until then this is a witch hunt.

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"I don't have any particular opinion on what we should talk about. I'm aware of the arguments for and against such a scheme. I'm interested in new insights or thoughts" - Mike Hearn

 

Yes, this is about counterproductive censorship. Mike is giving you the space to discuss the idea, alternative ideas, new thoughts, concerning a real controversial problem nobody really dare speaking about exactly because of what you're doing. It's easy to vote against something exactly because nobody wants the risks and the efforts of thinking about solutions and be criticized in return.

 

I personally am wary of this system and remain unconvinced, but I appreciate that Mike is bringing the subject on the table, even if it doesn't produce any new solution in the end, it just needs to be discussed.

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We have discussed coin taint ad nauseam in the past, on the bitcoin forums. I sometimes have the feeling this board is like 'the elite' and doesn't even read what's going on somewhere else. Either way, you don't have to take my word for it, I'm just voicing other people's opinions. If they want his head for even considering coin taint at this point, that's them. He could have stayed up to date. And if he wouldn't be in the power position he is in right now, it would probably be a very different story. But from past discussions people are very worried that he's the type of guy thats ready to comply with whatever government demands.. and they want someone who's willing to fight for what 90% of the community stands for: 21 million, complete privacy, and decentralisation. If you touch on the holy trinity it's going to backfire big time.

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Peter Todd    93

Wow, such dangerous radical thoughts! This man is trying to destroy Bitcoin! Hide your children!

 

Seriously? We'll talk about rebuking Mike Hearn when he actually agitates in favor of the approach. Until then this is a witch hunt.

 

I think this is a topic on which the Foundation should eventually arrive at a coherent policy for. Of course I know that won't be easy.

 

He's presenting blacklists as an idea that should be taken seriously. As I say, the discussion has happened, and we have near consensus that they are a bad idea; he's in a very small minority. What the Foundation's policy should be when it comes to blacklists is something that the community has a pretty good rough consensus on - we'll still have healthy debate about the details, but the basic idea has been rejected as a bad idea by almost everyone.

 

It is perfectly reasonable to continue researching the topic - people didn't stop researching DC after AC was accepted as the way to go. Sure enough, some really remarkable advancements in technology have made DC the right choice again in certain specific circumstances. (e.g. long distance undersea power transmission) But when it comes to coin taint, those kinds of potential advances in the underlying understanding are very far removed from anything the Foundation would want to put down in writing as a policy now, just the same way that the chair of an electricity board in the 40's would be at best deceptive to be telling the general public that DC was a viable option that merits serious consideration in the here and now.

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Kyle Jerviss    35

Btw, half of the topics being created right now are people concerned about Mike Hearn's coin taint and the bitcoin foundations role https://bitcointalk....x.php?board=1.0

People take you serious, you have to realise that.

 

Except that very little of the discussion (there or here) is actually about what he wrote. Mostly it is the usual cast of instigators whipping up an angry mob, and the mob then being angry about something that they don't understand.

 

Mike wrote about "A", and now you are here bitching about "B" because a group of people knew that a fraction of the bitcointalk mob can be counted upon to fly off the handle without bothering to think and understand the topic. Congratulations, you are today's winner sucker. Feel good about being used?

 

P.S. If even 10% of the crap about this that I've read on the bitcointalk forums today were true, I'd be pissed off too.

 

P.P.S. Context is important. The location of the topic in question has meaning. Why do you suppose it is in Law and Policy? Do you understand the bigger picture in and around that forum?

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Except that very little of the discussion (there or here) is actually about what he wrote. Mostly it is the usual cast of instigators whipping up an angry mob, and the mob then being angry about something that they don't understand.

 

Mike wrote about "A", and now you are here bitching about "B" because a group of people knew that a fraction of the bitcointalk mob can be counted upon to fly off the handle without bothering to think and understand the topic. Congratulations, you are today's winner sucker. Feel good about being used?

 

P.S. If even 10% of the crap about this that I've read on the bitcointalk forums today were true, I'd be pissed off too.

 

P.P.S. Context is important. The location of the topic in question has meaning. Why do you suppose it is in Law and Policy? Do you understand the bigger picture in and around that forum?

 

Sorry if I didn't understand that Mike was discussing in a different political forum which gives special privileges. Also my apologies for failing to see that the bitcoin forum is just the plebs, and we are the smart ones here. Yes, it's definitely my agenda to go after Mike and the only reason I posted here. </sarcasm>

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Gavin Andresen    481

In my head, I picture people sticking their fingers in their ears and going "LALALALALAL DON'T TALK ABOUT COINTAINT LALALALAL"

 

Or maybe somebody in a funny hat pointing their finger at Mike and shouting "BLASPHEMY!"

 

It is fine if y'all want to pretend that coin-tracking won't happen if the Foundation ignores it, and maybe it is such a hot-button issue that the Foundation should ignore it right now.

 

But it will happen anyway, because the technology to make it happen is pretty straightforward, and any victim of CryptoLocker will be VERY sympathetic to law enforcement tracking "dirty" coins. More than sympathetic, I think we should expect a lot of pressure on law enforcement to DO SOMETHING.

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In my head, I picture people sticking their fingers in their ears and going "LALALALALAL DON'T TALK ABOUT COINTAINT LALALALAL"

 

Or maybe somebody in a funny hat pointing their finger at Mike and shouting "BLASPHEMY!"

 

It is fine if y'all want to pretend that coin-tracking won't happen if the Foundation ignores it, and maybe it is such a hot-button issue that the Foundation should ignore it right now.

 

But it will happen anyway, because the technology to make it happen is pretty straightforward, and any victim of CryptoLocker will be VERY sympathetic to law enforcement tracking "dirty" coins. More than sympathetic, I think we should expect a lot of pressure on law enforcement to DO SOMETHING.

 

Hey Gavin,

 

Yes, I agree that it will happen sooner or later. The biggest worry right now is 2 things. 1) Where does the bitcoin foundation stand on this? People need a solid answer. 2) If the bitcoin foundation supports privacy, it should definitely push for something like Coinjoin https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=279249.0

 

What everyone is missing is real principles. It would help a lot if the foundation could come forward and say: We stand for 21 million, full privacy, and decentralisation - and it is our policy to support this until the end. Right now everyone is just guessing.

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Brian Goss    554

We need to discuss this issue. There's no two ways about it. Thinking that we don't or thinking that it is bad that we do discuss it is counter productive.

 

Anyhow, it's gonna happen. Just not in the Bitcoin protocol. Here's the first startup to try: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/11/13/sanitizing-bitcoin-coin-validation/

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Kyle Jerviss    35

Sorry if I didn't understand that Mike was discussing in a different political forum which gives special privileges. Also my apologies for failing to see that the bitcoin forum is just the plebs, and we are the smart ones here. Yes, it's definitely my agenda to go after Mike and the only reason I posted here. </sarcasm>

 

You joined the foundation specifically so that you could gain access to these forums to give your opinion. But you didn't do your homework. You came here to complain about what people on the other forums told you was going on here ("B"). What you should have done was pause for a moment to educate yourself on what was really said, and the context it was said in ("A").

 

Very few people care what you think about "B", because "B" is a fiction made up by trolls. But congratulations, your opinion of "B" has been noted. For the record, most everyone here is also against "B".

 

Despite the lies tossed around elsewhere, the foundation membership is almost entirely composed of people with very strong opinions in favor of decentralization, opposed to regulation, opposed to taint enforcement, in favor of freedom, etc. The foundation is not a secret cabal hell bent on handing control of bitcoin over to some government. Also, neither the foundation itself, nor any member or group of members, has any magical power to coerce people into accepting changes to the client or protocol.

 

I'm pretty well known as an early lifetime member of the foundation, but you don't have to take my word for it. Now that you are a member, you can read everything here and see for yourself who we are and what we are all about.

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Brian Goss    554

Also -- it's very poor form to publicly post discussions from here to elsewhere. Whoever did that should read our meta section and think about why that wasn't helpful.

 

Now there's a bunch of angsty teen age boys out there crying to their mommies about a problem that doesn't exist.

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KRR    14

Hi Everyone -

 

I hope this isn't in poor form too. I just wanted to cross-post these comments on the Coin Validation issue from the other forum, to here. This post contained some suggestions which many seemed to agree with. So tossing them before all of you seemed like an idea. (Good one or not, I have no clue!). In a nutshell, they're suggesting finding creative solutions to the problem, which address all the issues in full, while maintaining the "philosophy/original purpose" behind bitcoin.

 

Quote: https://bitcointalk....?topic=333882.0

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

If they want to certify users, they should do that as:

 

* Optional KYC, AML certificates that regulated merchants in respective jurisdictions can request, which could be attached to wallets/identities, not to fully fungible coins.

 

* The certificates should be non-transitive they attest to the identity of the user, not the coins. They should be optionally sent - if the recipient does not request it, it is privacy destructive and a security risk to send identifying information to unregulated businesses and individuals.

 

* I encourage anyone with technical skills to put their thinking caps on to find ways to increase fungibility in the short term like CoinJoin, coin control in wallets, helping less technical people migrate to better wallets, educating people about privacy practices that defend fungibility. And longer term privacy technologies like zero coin, homomorphic encrypted value and committed (hidden) transactions.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Disclaimer: I am not the author of the above suggestions and I have absolutely no clue if they are good ones or not. Its all greek to me! :)

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John Stahl    31

We can either castigate Mike for sparking a discussion on a controversial topic and positing views that you may disagree with vehemently, or take the opportunity he has provided by facilitating this conversation to build a positive result. Let's build a positive result. I hope everyone will read my post on Mike's original thread and contribute to the conversation in a healthy way. Think about how great it is that (some business) is accepting bitcoin now if you have to.

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Olivier Janssens & Peter Todd: You probably don't realize it but you're raising hell against a very important member of this community here, on reddit, bitcointalk... This creates a smear campaign, often misinformed and radical. This concerns me a lot. Mike doesn't deserve that, nobody does. You don't need to target a person to oppose to an idea

 

This should probably be at least one "good conduct" rule if we don't want to lose engaged members one by one as soon as they touch a sensitive subject. We need members that are able to confront sensitive questions. The future is not simple, and things will be much worse if we are disorganized from the inside.

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