The Benefits of Privacy
Expressing yourself selectively and secluding yourself or your information from others is essential to being a Free individual.
Take these abilities away and you end up with closed and permissioned societies in which the ability to think and express oneself freely is dictated by those who can wield force unto others or who can convince the masses with their sophistry.
Like Ayn Rand stated in her manifesto For the New Intellectual, “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”
While bitcoin is not private by default, there are tools and best practices that provide users with significant advantages over the legacy system — we can achieve greater degrees of privacy, anonymity and freedom when properly wielding it.
At Bull Bitcoin, we take privacy very seriously. That’s why we offer privacy enhancing services, like our Privacy package. It includes 1-on-1 support for the basics of coin control (an essential but often overlooked part of bitcoin privacy), and Wasabi CoinJoin.
1. You don’t owe any explanations
We are overburdened by the technocrats of this world with providing justifications for everything we do, how we make our money and what we spend it on. This also extends into every other person in your social environment asking for reasons that you do not wish to provide.
When using bitcoin properly, you have a tremendous advantage that removes an important part of the weight of worrying about spooks and snoops alike.
Maintain your financial privacy
Bitcoin’s network of servers communicate with one another in order to maintain its open ledger and verify that the protocol rules are respected. Anyone is free to run a server (aka a node) and communicate with others. Nodes are continuously analyzing, however there are those that will go a step further to surveil.
Blockchain analytics companies are abound and work with alphabet agencies in order to unmask any activities and individuals that they deem a threat to their standing. The saying that you shouldn’t be worried if you aren’t doing anything wrong is fallacious.
Your activity with your bitcoin only pertains to you. Using digital forms of fiat that can dictate your spending and track your history only suppress your right to privacy. You have opted out by using bitcoin — don’t fall prey to the malicious actors that still want to control you.
Use Wasabi wallet’s CoinJoin implementation and run your node over Tor to protect your financial history.
Respect for the Individual
We must have some ability to protect ourselves from being unfairly judged and our reputation harmed in the process. Knowing the private details of others does not mean knowing them better. Others will be quick to judge without necessarily knowing any context or will judge with hypocrisy. Maintaining privacy avoids others jumping to conclusions.
Control Over One’s Life
Freedom comes with control, autonomy and ultimately responsibility over our lives. Nowadays, our personal information is constantly being collected and used, either to influence our decision making or to impact how we are treated in our daily lives. The Large amounts of personal information that are collected are then used to manipulate our day to day behaviour without our full understanding.
Living life without any resort to privacy is ultimately giving ourselves up to the whims of others. We ultimately risk losing a sense of meaning if we cannot control the information that others are capable of collecting from us. They will drown us in ephemeral needs and wants and sucker and destroy our sense of self.
2. Increased Personal Security
Information is power which can be used against us. Limiting what is known about our activities and personal lives and wealth will help us live more free day to day lives, but perhaps more importantly, it will reduce our chances of being a target by malicious actors.
Don’t Get Tracked
As mentioned, there are those that are trying to deanomize you and your holdings. The prevalence of this phenomena will only increase due to Bitcoin’s underlying NgU technology and growing acceptance as money.
After successfully coinjoining your bitcoins, avoid consolidating freshly mixed coins as this will only help any observer or recipient in figuring you out. Don’t brag about how long you’ve been in the Bitcoin space either, as this will only increase the chances of you falling for a $5 wrench attack.
Many other tools are available to make your online presence more difficult to track you in the meatspace (ie. physical world). Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to obfuscate your IP address, run a Bitcoin node, communicate over private channels and services.
Improving your privacy when it comes to your bitcoin stack allows you to deny knowledge of how much bitcoin you actually have. Mixing your coins using CoinJoin, prevents anyone from being capable of proving that there is a trace between your bitcoin and your person.
The above, in addition to having a proper storage setup can help you avoid losing the entirety of your stack to attackers if ever you were to find yourself in such a terrible situation.
Plausible deniability also enables you to avoid funding governments that attack your individual rights and freedoms through coercive taxation or even confiscation, since your bitcoin is not public knowledge.
Limit on Power
Our personal information can be a tool used to exercise control over our lives. Whether they be other individuals, private companies or governments, our information in the wrong hands can be used to cause a great deal of harm to us and our loved ones.
Improving our privacy helps reduce the amount of power others can have over us. In an era of accelerating mass surveillance and desires for large scale societal control, the less others know about us, the better.
3. Freedom of Thought & Speech
Money is a means of communication that allows us to express the value of our labour and goods in a tangible way that anyone, no matter the language they speak or the culture they are from, can understand.
Bitcoin allows for free communication without hindrance, when used properly. Part of expressing yourself through bitcoin is by maintaining fungibility. You do not want some of your bitcoin to be tainted by past transactions, where others can deem it to be worth less (like Coinbase, Blockfi and more blacklisting coins that have been coinjoined).
Maintaining fungibility allows your coins to all seem the same and further encourages your free expression through them.
Don’t Fall for Narrative Traps
Bitcoin is a tool of liberation, but many of us are not ready or knowledgeable enough to use it.
In fact, most of the world, if hyperbitcoinization were to arrive tomorrow, would probably trust their precious Bitcoins in the hands of others.
Governments are not the threat that would bring down Bitcoin — we are.
We are the ones that create and follow the narratives. We have started this well and the Bitcoin community continues to maintain healthy narratives, like holding onto your keys and running your own node.
If we just listen to NgU-type narratives and the like, and if our only goal is to accumulate more fiat, who will care about privacy, sovereignty and ultimately, freedom? There are those who want this and who will continue to push this message. We must be wary of them.
The tools exist now to help us achieve a pure form of financial freedom.
Money is a tool for communication and Bitcoin is communication without censorship. This comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility and we cannot be reckless in our approach, we simply cannot afford to.
We can hold our own keys, we can use Coinjoin, we can validate transactions and further protect our personal information by running a node.
We must encourage others to do so, as well as improve the infrastructure and ease of which we use these tools.
We must avoid falling for short-sighted narratives or letting emotions of fear or excitement get in the way of our freedom for the long term.
Control How to Reveal Oneself
When spending and receiving bitcoins, one must be careful as to what information such actions might reveal about ourselves. The most important question when approaching our privacy hygiene is what are our threat models? The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a guide on what questions you should be addressing:
- What do you want to protect?
- Who do you want to protect it from?
- How likely is it that you will need to protect it?
- How bad are the consequences if you fail?
- How much trouble are you willing to go through?
Who can potentially be tracking you or is asking far too many questions about your finances, your thoughts and expressions?
Here you’ll find a list of various types of attacks with regards to your wallet and the use of your bitcoin.
There are many ways one can reveal too much about themselves when using bitcoin, such as reusing the same address (revealing part of all of your stack and use of funds), not using coin control (causing transaction graph privacy leak), not trying to avoid change (allowing for clustering of your addresses and funds) or leaking your computer traffic information by not using Tor, a VPN or a Bitcoin full node.
Tools to Help You Out
Below you’ll find some handy guides and resources to help you improve your privacy.
Masks your IP address so that you can achieve greater privacy online. Tracking your IP address gives an attacker a step closer to finding your physical location.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Your web traffic is queried on a server located in a different physical location. This helps mask your activity from your Internet Service Provider, but you do place trust in the service provider.
Encrypt all of your messages and sign them with your unique digital signature (PGP key).
CoinJoin with Wasabi
Wasabi is not only an excellent desktop wallet, it also offers user friendly coin control and and advanced bitcoin transaction obfuscation protocol called CoinJoin. CoinJoin is the process where bitcoin from multiple sources are literally joined together in a single transaction. These coins are then redistributed in a manner that avoids both collusion from the service provider and its users as well as essentially erase the traceability of your coins. The links between Bitcoin UTXOs and their possible owners are broken, resulting in the plausible deniability of ownership of those coins, thus providing greater privacy.
This is your trustless and secure communication mechanism to the rest of the Bitcoin network. Validate that the bitcoin you receive is real and eliminate any trust you would otherwise have to give to your wallet providers when sending out your transactions.
- Embassy Start9 node
- It also comes packed with several privacy-focused applications!
There are plenty of other tools out there to help improve your privacy and reduce your digital footprint, both for your online interactions and for your use of Bitcoin.
Maintain your informational self-determination. Privacy is a natural right that only you can defend. Without it, we are mere slaves to those that can muster the ressources through their means of coercion and influence and extract value by stealing ours.
If you’d like to better understand privacy and how to implement the right tools to improve yours, I strongly encourage you to check out the resources that have been linked throughout this article. We also offer a Privacy package at Bull Bitcoin, take a look here.
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