🇬🇧A draft EU Parliament report published today would ban anonymous payments and donations in #cryptocurrencies such as #Bitcoin & #Ethereum. The stated aim to tackle money laundering and terrorism is only a pretext to gain more control over personal data.


@echo_pbreyer I usually agree with you. Not this time.

This is not as clear-cut as it seems to be.

Cryptocurrencies (especially the "privacy coins") are not a cash replacement, the power dynamics are different because cash has friction when used in huge amounts that cryptocurrencies lack.

This makes cryptocurrencies (and esp. "privacy coins") way more useful for organized crime, corrupt politicians, and the superrich, than cash could ever be.

The power dynamics are *opposite* to those in case of cash.

@echo_pbreyer let me say this differently: where cash is a boon to private citizens in preserving their privacy from the rich and powerful, cryptocurrencies (esp. privacy coins) are a boon to the rich and powerful in making it more difficult to hold them to account.

The "cryptocurrencies = digital cash" false equivalence is a sham. Be careful what you support.

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer Nonsense. Electronic cash is the same as cash for all intents and purposes, and it's much easier to have HSBC launder your fiat money than it is to launder billions of EUR in cryptocurrency. You do actually have to get in and out of something like Monero if you intend to do that, because you're not going to be able to spend that in XMR or want to keep that in XMR. Which means it *is* perfectly detectable for the worst offenders, while this law would violate privacy for all.

@raucao @echo_pbreyer so what you're saying is that because of this exchange that needs to happen, cryptocurrencies (even "privacy coins") are currently useless at preserving privacy of their users?

Well then, nothing of value would be lost!

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer I didn't say that at all. I'm saying they're useless for laundering large amounts of money, but useful for small amounts, and especially private on p2p layers like #LightningNetwork for those small amounts.

@echo_pbreyer just adding a few satoshis here: part of @rysiek's argument is that he is worried about privacy coins, but this is merely a hypothetical distant future. At present there's not enough liquidity in these coins to hide. And as @raucao said you need to go through BTC in practice. Both Monero and ZCash have fundamental scaling issues they might never fixed. Most ZCash users also don't utilise the privacy feature, at least last time I checked. Concern about "privacy coins" is premature.

@echo_pbreyer @rysiek @raucao as for the current EU proposal: it's nothing short of mass surveillance. I don't think there's _any_ problem out there, not even corruption, that justifies deploying such a draconian instrument to fight it.

I also believe the current banking system should be permitted and then forced to allow anonymous accounts and transfers (within limits). As it stands, it's already a mass surveillance system, and the EU bears a lot of responsibility for this tragic situation.

@echo_pbreyer @rysiek @raucao final point: what's the use of having financial data more easily available to investigative journalists, if the next dictator can trivially kill those very journalists by following the money trail? And don't forget we already have a couple of aspiring dictators inside the EU, as well as "regular" corrupt politicians who don't mind killing journalists.

These surveillance instruments are just too dangerous to exist.

@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao the counter point would be: if we get transparency right, we might be able to avoid having to deal with the next dictator in the first place. Because they will have no way to hide their money and amass their power.

And also, importantly, this is not an either-or. The amounts of money that a dictator needs to be a dictator are several orders of magnitude higher than what journalists need to operate. We *can* have privacy for journalists along with transparency for the powerful.

@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao the crucial point I am trying to make, in the end, is in fact that last bit.

Developers of Monero etc pretend this is impossible, as I had mentioned multiple times. But we have a system where this is already *somewhat* possible: physical cash. It's private in small amounts, but nigh-unusable in ginormous amounts.

So let's start talking about how we can replicate *that*. That would be absolutely fantastic.

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer @raucao with a centralized system like our current banking system you can have different privacy levels based on the amount. But that's subject to what Snowden calls Turnkey Totalitarianism; politics can take privacy away at any point. Decentralized systems don't have this problem, but - as Monero folks correctly state - you can't make different rules based on the amount. And I'm not volunteering to do it even if it was possible: it's open source, hire your own dev :-)

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@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao sure, but my point is simple: solutions like Monero, without a way to provide for this kind of "friction" related to amounts, are simply *dangerous*, as they feed the very power dynamics that human rights activists (digital and otherwise) have been warning against for ages.

So if Monero cannot find a way to fix this, it is worth considering whether or not Monero is a good idea at all.

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer @raucao more generally I think you should forget about trying to negotiate with an open source distributed money system. It needs to work everywhere in the world, not just in relatively safe democracies like some EU countries. It also needs to work for all time, not just the current interbellum. There will be always be dictators and wars, it's an illusion to think we've seen the last of those. Bitcoin has to account for the worst case.

@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao but it very clearly doesn't account for some of the worst cases.

We need privacy for journalists, activists, and almost anyone else, that's a given.

But we also need transparency and accountability for the corrupt, the powerful, the authoritarian.

Ignoring *any* of these is just as dangerous. There are very good reasons why human rights activists push both for privacy (for regular people) and for accountability (for the powerful).

@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao
and I am not "negotiating with an open-source distributed money system". I am having a conversation about dangers that *will* arise from a bad implementation of such.

But thanks for the patronizing tone, I guess. 🤷‍♀️

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer @raucao I interpreted this as trying to negotiate: "Developers of Monero etc pretend this is impossible" and "So let's start talking about how we can replicate *that*."

I agree with you that Bitcoin is far from perfect. It's not private enough, but there's currently no credible technical solution for that, so it will just have to do. I don't focus on Monero because I don't think it can work at scale (which means it won't be "dangerous" either).

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer @raucao Bitcoin is designed to solve one particular problem really well: censorship resistant electronic money. It adds inflation protection as a nice bonus, though that's not very useful yet with the current volatility. It does not try to solve accountability. I'm not saying accountability isn't a serious issue, but it's just not what Bitcoin is for.

@rysiek @echo_pbreyer @raucao somehow politicians needs to take into account that things like Bitcoin and Monero exist, and deal with (perceived and real) externalities. There may be some developers and users who are _also_ interested in helping think through those issues.

But if politicians decide to attack these systems - which the EU did today - I'm predicting it will get as ugly as the war on drugs. That's a big reason why I advocate against bad legislation.

@sjors @echo_pbreyer @raucao I think we're all against bad legislation.

But I am quite frustrated by how uncritically many of us here seem to be "pro-whatever the cryptobros claim".

And if developers of Monero are not interested in thinking through potentially dangerous outcomes enabled by the system they're building, I feel it is entirely justified and reasonable to call them out on that. What they do with that feedback is, of course, up to them.

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