Here's an unfortunate, yet unsurprising event that happened earlier this week; Samourai wallet was forced to remove their Stealth Mode, SMS Commands, and SIM Switch Defence features from their app if they wanted to keep it on the Google Play store. These features aim to bring privacy and security to users who desperately need them, especially if they're trying to buy necessities, preserve wealth stealthily while living under authoritarian regimes, and protect themselves from the incompetencies of their cell phone service providers. All features that I think rational humans can agree are net benefits for society and individual liberty. The company that brought you "Don't be evil." (and whose browser I'm using to type this rag) is overtly enabling evil by denying people these utilities.
This story, in particular, is running parallel to another which has been gaining traction on the web and real estate in my mind this week, the growing crescendo of framing Bitcoin as "free speech money" as an entry point for people trying to understand Bitcoin for the first time. The framing, made popular this week after this tweet from Gab.com, has been around for a while but has never been used as effectively. The shunning of some content creators across the web has pushed a mass of people into Bitcoin's arms, as they have no other choice at this juncture. We're seeing the game theory behind Bitcoin playout beautifully as it is truly the only option some people have in a world dominated by a banking and payment system that acts as a giant gatekeeper, deciding who and who cannot conduct commerce with each other. The crazy thing about Bitcoin's game theory is that it benefits either way. If governments and gatekeepers continue to censor payments and speech, people will be pushed into Bitcoin, benefiting the network. If they try to attack Bitcoin, it proves it's something worth attacking, highlighting the value of the network. If they decide it may be a valuable asset to hold on their balance sheets, Bitcoin benefits. Bitcoin has antifragility embedded into its DNA.
With all of that being said, I'd like to draw your attention back to the problem our friends at Samourai find themselves in. There is still a LONG way to go before the idea of Bitcoin mass adoption comes to fruition. Not only do we need to figure out how to scale the protocol and ensure long-term decentralization, but we also have to rearchitect the infrastructure that allows people to access apps that make it easy to acquire and utilize Bitcoin. People are so accustomed to the easy UX flows of centralized services that are so easily throttled when pressured. Decentralized file storage services and similar apps need to become more pervasive in the mainstream.
Essentially, the mindset of the public needs to change. Will the hacking of Equifax, Facebook, Target, Marriott, and/or [insert incompetent data silo/honeypot here] be enough to awaken people to the fact that they may need to think about data security more seriously? Doesn't seem like it up to this point. Maybe more of these need to happen before people begin to take action. Will people get fed up of the fiat system and turn to the sound money system which is Bitcoin? It looks as if a good amount of current Bitcoin users are in it for this reason. Will introducing Bitcoin as "free speech money" to a material demographic that is currently being shunned by the political and financial elite be effective? I think we are getting the answer to this question in real time. It will be interesting to reflect on this particular framing a year from now.
Nothing more cringe-inducing than thinking about barefoot low tide muck walking in the bay.