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Issue #548: Reminder: Bitcoin privacy isn't easy

Aug 14, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #548: Reminder: Bitcoin privacy isn't easy

Here's a periodic reminder that using Bitcoin privately is something that isn't exactly very straightforward at the moment. Due to the nature of how Bitcoin works at a system level, how users interact with 3rd parties that demand KYC/AML information and 3rd party block explorers that can track IP addresses; it is pretty trivial to track certain users as they transact via the Bitcoin Network if they are not being deliberate with their actions.

To transact with a higher level of privacy users must be hyper-aware of things like how they acquired particular UTXOs. Which UTXOs have been combined with each other while transacting. Whether or not they were using a VPN when looking up a particular address on a block explorer. Whether or not they have CoinJoined their UTXOs. Whether or not they have shared a public address on social media, via text, or email; which can be stored by Twitter, AT&T, or Google. The list goes on an on.

While using Bitcoin privately may seem daunting at the moment, it has certainly become considerably easier over the years with the emergence of CoinJoin solutions provided by teams like JoinMarket, Samourai, and Wasabi. Easier access to CoinJoins has been coupled with the emergence of dedicated hardware nodes and node launching software that can be used on your laptop (or tablet!), which have made it easier for users to run their own full nodes connected to Tor. Allowing them to relay transactions across the network in a private way. These are incredible advances in UX that enable users to transact with a higher degree of privacy, but they are certainly not very straightforward or accessible to non-technical users at the moment.

I am very optimistic that things will continue to improve on the privacy front. However, it is extremely important that one acknowledges Bitcoin's current limitations. So do yourselves a favor freaks, and peep the Bitcoin wiki page on privacy shared by our friend Udi in the tweet above. It's a long one, but extremely thorough and you will be better off for having read it.  

Final thought...

Barefoot season is my favorite season.


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