Bitcoin is Surveillance Money
Watching eye w/ Bitcoin logo
Bitcoin is Surveillance Money

By Mandica | Mandica's Blog | 15 Mar 2020


The word "surveillance" might make you think of many different things, such as CCTV, GPS tracking, third-party tracking cookies in your browser, supercookies, and device fingerprinting. Think of recent events such as the June 2013 leak of secret NSA documents by Edward Snowden. The leak uncovered the shady practices of the US' NSA and UK's GCHQ. All of our communication had been intercepted and logged in vast databases. Secret global surveillance programs called 'XKeyscore', 'PRISM', and 'Tempora' were exposed. Highly sophisticated tools to monitor communication and collect almost everything a user does on the internet[1]. This leak informed American citizens that the NSA had collected and stored information such as their phone records for a long time.

CCTV

Maybe your knowledge stretches further back, and you think about The UKUSA Agreement dating back to the late 1940s. An intelligence-sharing agreement between UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, also known as the 'Five Eyes.' This agreement resulted in the creation of a global surveillance network known as 'Echelon' in 1971[2]. The information from 'Echelon' was shared between the "Five Eyes" through a covert system named "Stone Ghost". The DIA (US' Defense Intelligence Agency) operated this system of information sharing. This information did not only stay with the US and its allies. In 2012 a Royal Canadian Navy intelligence officer Jeffrey Delisle was found to have downloaded and sold information from "Stone Ghost[3]. He gave the information to the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/02/05/french-official-details-intelligence-sharing-relationship-with-five-eyes/

The use of surveillance, countersurveillance, the unavoidable information leaks and hacks that follow stretches far back through history. According to Terry Crowdy in "The Enemy Within: A History of Espionage" (2006) the first known example of espionage and surveillance dates back to the time of Pharaoh Rameses (c. 1274 BC) in Egypt.

Governments continuously engage in surveillance both to gauge the mood, morale, sentiment and loyalty of the populace. Malevolent actors engage in monitoring for various reprehensible purposes. Some criminals seek financial rewards by acting to steal your money. Some criminals find perverted pleasure by watching you through your webcam.

We are being watched, traced and tracked as we speak (or read this) by governments, human actors, algorithms, machines and our own devices. It is also noteworthy that agencies using surveillance are not just collectors of information but also disseminate false information to further their aim. Former CIA Director Bill Casey once stated, "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false[4].

Proponents will say that surveillance is benign; it's for your safety, for security. It will make society better; it's to protect you from harm. We often hear 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' in defence of surveillance. This statement seeks to urge an individual to put their absolute trust in state powers while disregarding the fact that privacy is an intrinsic human right. Monitoring is promoted as a good practice to protect us. However, surveillance is not benign, and it is not in your best interest and is contrary to the idea of freedom and a means of oppression.

Human Rights

The proponents of surveillance aim to make you believe it is indispensable and make you feel guilty for wanting privacy. The sophisticated technology that enables this mass deception is sleek and silent. We forget that we are watched continually. People seem unwilling to grasp the implications of mass surveillance, and many are eager in their complicity. People seem to dutifully accept the government's assertions on the identities of our enemies and the origin and nature of our terror. The French poet Charles Baudelaire once said, "The Devil's cleverest wile is to make men believe that he does not exist."

Another concept that emerged over the last two decades has become known as 'Surveillance Capitalism'. This practice aims to capture your everyday behaviour to gently and imperceptibly nudge your ideas, wants, and opinions in a specific direction to predict your future conduct. The ultimate aim is to control and profit.

"Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as 'machine intelligence', and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behaviour.[5]

Capitalist

This kind of surveillance is the realm of Instagram, Facebook, Google and other mainly American tech giants. In October 2012, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had gained one billion (1,000,000,000) monthly active users providing them with data[6]. Facebook is a vast global surveillance network. They don't spy on your communication in the traditional sense, but this is surveillance of your behaviour and habits such as what you like, your political views, what you eat and your sexual preferences. Google, for example, decided that it would digitise and store every book ever printed, regardless of copyright issues. Google also photographed every street and house on the planet without asking anyone's permission. These are the giants of surveillance capitalism. Besides, Facebook's Libra project has the potential to map the financial behaviour of more than 2.5 bill people on a privately controlled blockchain. Surveillance permeates our lives. Someone is always watching, monitoring, modelling, predicting and logging what we do. What are the primary tools of surveillance?

The tools of surveillance are all the social media accounts, our Google searches, our smart devices, our e-mail, credit cards, debit cards, the computers in our cars, our web browser and more importantly, Bitcoin.

Fuzzy Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a tool for surveillance; Bitcoin is 'surveillance money'. If you think Bitcoin has preserved any libertarian values, that it will empower individual autonomy and freedom, you have succumbed to misinformation and misunderstandings. Bitcoin is 'surveillance money'; that is money with history and linkability with full public access to all accounts.

When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, he could not have considered the systemic surveillance conducted by the NSA and others in his future. He could not have had the foreknowledge of what Facebook and Google would become. In Chapter 10 in the Bitcoin white paper "Privacy," Satoshi states: "…privacy can still be maintained by breaking the flow of information in another place: by keeping public keys anonymous." He further states "…a new key pair should be used for each transaction to keep them from being linked to a common owner. Some linking is still unavoidable with multi-input transactions, which necessarily reveal that their inputs were owned by the same owner.[7]

A whole industry has sprung up with Bitcoin mixers, additional protocols and books on how to stay anonymous with Bitcoin. This nascent industry is a powerful indicator that Bitcoin is very far from private. It is instead the polar opposite of private. When you use Bitcoin, and you open up your money to a world of increasingly sophisticated surveillance. Multitudes of obscure analysts are crawling over the very public Bitcoin ledger, watching it in real-time. You don't know who they are, why and how they survey the Bitcoin ledger, who they might be working for, and what they intend to do with the data. As you keep using Bitcoin, you lay all your transactions and history completely exposed to unknown and malicious actors. There is no oversight, no democratic accountability and no control or regulation of this kind of surveillance. After all, you choose to make your transactions public. You consent to have all your transactions written into the very public immutable ledger, forever.

Ledger

Bitcoin forensics is also a booming business. Consider companies such as Elliptical and Chainalysis. They have raised millions to analyse the Bitcoin blockchain continuously for industry and government. It is also a given that both the UK's GCHQ, The US's NSA are running specialised software and Bitcoin nodes to gather information. They are harvesting vast amounts of data on all Bitcoin transactions both past and present. They are mapping participants behaviours, transaction patterns and painstakingly identifying actors on the network, working with exchanges and other companies.

The most common methods for de-anonymising Bitcoin is discussed in some detail in the Spectrecoin white-paper[8] and in "Anonymous Bitcoin" by Kristov Atlas[9]. Spectrecoin and other privacy projects propose solutions to these problems using alternative methods. Spectrecoin is not technology that lends itself to surveillance and control in the same way as Bitcoin. There are compelling reasons for proponents of privacy and human rights to support these projects and re-consider the serious privacy inherent in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin also has a significant centralisation issue due to increasing difficulty in 'solving' blocks. A recent study has found that Chinese Bitcoin miners control 66% of the global hash rate to secure the network[10]. We also know that new Chinese national intelligence law that came into effect in 2017 states that "any organisation and citizen" shall "support and cooperate in national intelligence work". Therefore, Chinese Bitcoin miners are effectively under Chinese state control[11].

China BTC

Prominent Bitcoin maximalists tend to have a quasi-religious attitude towards Bitcoin. They are propagandising its use. They influence technologically undereducated consumers. Making them believe that Bitcoin is the future of money, the internet of money and somehow forget to mention the endless surveillance potential it has in exposing the users own financial interests and habits. They forget to say that the Bitcoin network endures between Chinese government interest and massive surveillance by shadowy actors such as NSA and GCHQ. The Bitcoin maximalists are the new hyper-capitalists and maybe unintentional agents for the establishment and the governments. How many Bitcoins do they hold? How much do they stand to gain by broader Bitcoin adoption?

Bitcoin is the opposite of freedom. Bitcoin epitomises the very opposite of privacy and Bitcoin has now become part of the very capitalist establishment it sought to counter more than ten years ago. The Bitcoin maximalists will see any such criticisms as a pure conspiracy of course. In the end, what is Bitcoin? It is undoubtedly an innovation in value transfer and has become a store of value and is attaining mainstream adoption. However, this technology comes at a cost to the environment and user privacy that is far from trivial or easily solvable. Bitcoin is controlled by large global investment companies and significant bank subsidiaries and not by the users lulled into believing they are in control. Why do you think there is a strong correlation between the stock market and the Bitcoin price?

Stock market

Privacy-focused Proof-of-Stake cryptocurrencies such as Spectrecoin can replace Bitcoin entirely. They fulfil the role of disintermediated value transfer. They perform the function of a secure store of value. They achieve this with greater security while maintaining robust privacy, being censorship-resistant, surveillance-resistant and being eco-conscious and preserving energy. There is no reason for Bitcoin to occupy the apex of the crypto eco-system except to feed the new hyper-capitalist agenda. If you believe in the future of cryptocurrencies, you should rally around privacy projects and reject Bitcoin.

The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating its citizens. There are the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. Bitcoin fits beautifully in the surveillance capitalists and governments toolboxes. Do you think governments really want to ban Bitcoin? Think again.

Be in no doubt; Bitcoin is surveillance money representing hyper-capitalist servitude and ultimate financial bondage. We must work towards a future of true decentralisation, and good enough privacy. Projects such as Spectrecoin represent the money of defiance and opposition to the elite. Censorship resistant and surveillance resistant, the money of freedom.

Spectrecoin

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/31/nsa-xkeyscore-program-full-presentation

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20112616

[4] https://www.globalresearch.ca/1975-video-cia-admits-to-congress-the-agency-uses-mainstream-media-to-distribute-disinformation/5424860

[5] The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (2019) by Shoshana Zuboff

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/oct/04/facebook-hits-billion-users-a-month

[7] https://bitcoin.org/en/bitcoin-paper

[8] https://spectreproject.io/Spectrecoin_White-Paper.pdf

[9] https://blog.anonymousbitcoinbook.com/

[10] https://cointelegraph.com/news/study-chinas-btc-miners-control-66-of-global-hash-rate

[11] https://thediplomat.com/2019/02/the-real-danger-of-chinas-national-intelligence-law/


Mandica
Mandica

Project manager for Spectrecoin


Mandica's Blog
Mandica's Blog

About Spectrecoin, privacy, cryptocurrency, masternodes, blockchain, disruption, anonymity

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