Bitcoin: Our Best Tool for Privacy and Identity on the Internet

by Peter Van Valkenburgh

Coin Center


Financial privacy is an umbrella term for both data security and privacy. We can think of security as the ability to hide information from all comers and privacy, following Nissenbaum’s concept of contextual integrity, as the ability to shape how we selectively reveal information and how it is used after revelation. Poor security and poor privacy have costs: identity theft, merchant compliance costs, chilling effects on speech, and cloaking costs from user self-help. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, can be used to improve security and grant users more granular control over when and how they choose to identify themselves. We outline these potential benefits and describe how they can be achieved without hamstringing the investigatory powers of law enforcement or the goals of financial regulators.

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