Digital Privacy

By jer979!! | | 27 Dec 2021

tl;dr: no one cares about digital privacy. They should

I’ve written about privacy enabled by crypto a few times before.

I think it’s one of the major sub-texts of what is going on in the Web 3 vs. Web 2 evolution.

I just finished reading the Fiat Standard and like with so many other topics, Dr. Ammous does a tremendous job of highlighting some of the inherent risks associated CBDCs, Central Bank Digital Currencies.

While advocates might claim that CBDCs offer the convenience of decentralized cryptos (and they are right), what is often (and dangerously) left out of the discussion is that CBDCs become one of the most powerful human surveillance tools of all time.

Imagine an entity that knows, immediately, every single purchase you make, to whom, the amount, the location, the time of day. Same for every donation you make.

Now imagine that there’s someone within that entity that wants to spoof you, or “cancel” you, or make it difficult for you to send money to the people and institutions that are important to you.

Most Americans scoff at this idea, with a naive sense of “that wouldn’t happen here,” whereas people from other countries immediately “get it.”

I think ignoring this risk comes at great peril.

We’ve already seen the IRS get politicized, and even if it wasn’t politicized, the appearance of politicization suggests that people are concerned about it.

All the more when there’s a currency that is 100% digital and 100% controlled by a single entity that, though professing its political independence, becomes increasingly politicized with each day.

All of this background to say that I’ve been keeping an eye on privacy tech evolution.

My friend Oliver just launched one of the more innovative approaches to this problem in the crypto space, in Panther Protocol, and did so in a public sale that closed in 90 minutes.

In brief, Panther provides a “privacy layer” to ANY protocol that, through Zero Knowledge technology, can be deployed (in a compliant way) to give users the confidence that their transactions are not being snooped. When this works across chains, and I’m sure it will, it will be a very powerful addition to the privacy toolkit.

Similarly, I recently heard about Incognito wallet (which I have not tried yet, but intend to), which provides a similar benefit as Panther (as far as I can tell) by issuing pBTC, pETH, etc. which are 100% backed by the original asset and can always be redeemed for the full amount, but which when used within the network are untraceable.

It looks and feels like “coin mixing at scale,” which I’m sure will attract attention as a haven for criminals (which I’m sure it will be), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable service to law-abiding citizens who feel that they don’t want every single transaction to be tracked and known by the world.

The right to privacy is something we all discuss and hear about. We’ll have to see if people really care or if they accept living in a government surveillance state.

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