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Bitcoin Privacy Your Rights Online

RMS Calls For "Truly Anonymous" Payment Alternative To Bitcoin 287 287

BitVulture writes "Richard Stallman took time to air his views on the crypto-currency that has become virtually as valuable as gold. In an interview with Russian media giant RT, Stallman praised Bitcoin for allowing people to 'send money to someone without getting the permission of a payment company'. But he also warned against a major weakness of Bitcoin and called for the development of 'a system for truly anonymous payment' online."
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RMS Calls For "Truly Anonymous" Payment Alternative To Bitcoin

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  • Re:ZeroCoin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @03:44AM (#45572691)

    Chaum is another weirdy beardy, and so paranoid that he makes RMS look like a beacon of sanity.
    We need more stable people in the geek community. Stable people with people skills who can code like gods.
    We need to up our game.

  • by gagol (583737) on Monday December 02, 2013 @04:01AM (#45572733)
    Paper money still exist and it is anonymous by design, cheap and accessible to everybody on earth, not just the tech-haves. Technology is not always the answer.
  • Re:Paper money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrbluze (1034940) on Monday December 02, 2013 @04:05AM (#45572739) Journal

    I tried to use it to pay online, but my business partner complained the bills I faxed ain't legal tender.

    This is a good point. Credit card companies and banks use promisory notes (credit) and we trust them that the electronic transactions become real at the other end.

    The problem with Bitcoin is it is a floating currency and it is prone to price fluctuation that means its meaningfulness as a means of monetary exchange is currently dwarfed by its speculative importance.

    And consider this also: Bitcoin mining depends on processing power. Who has most of that? The very people no one trusts anymore (finally!). Money does not just have to be based on a finite resource, but an honest resource. It needs to be off the grid, independent of power companies (no power, no electricity to do your Bitcoin transactions!), telco's (no internet, no Bitcoin). To store value I would still favor metals, and for day to day anonymous purchasing there are better ways.

  • The long-term view (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday December 02, 2013 @04:39AM (#45572791) Homepage Journal

    Would that work? Sure, it would work. It would make bikes anonymous, and overcome the problem that they are identifiable (with serial numbers, colors, etc.). The question is what the hell would be in in for legitimate bike owners?

    There is a difference between short-term and long-term benefits. In the short term, there is no benefit for someone "swapping bikes". In the case of digital currency, there is no short-term benefit for swapping coins, but there is no loss either.

    In the long term however, having anonymous currency removes opportunities for oppression and corruption in government, manipulation and injustice. The bike-swappers enjoy a stronger, more robust government which has less opportunity to screw with their lives.

    Of course, every change must be considered in the context of alternatives. Digital currency removes opportunity for manipulation by bad people, but also allows for bad usage. People will buy guns without being traced, people will buy contraband without being caught, and people will buy magazines with unapproved content. We'll have to transition away from "thought crime" ("conspiricy to grow marijuana [gloucestercitizen.co.uk]" is my favourite) to a more "action oriented" crime: people will be jailed not for planning to do things or for researching how to do things, rather they will be jailed for actually doing things.

    Whether society is better by big brother guessing our intent or judging our actions is a question worthy of debate. ...but swapping money to achieve anonymity is valuable in its own right.

  • Re:ZeroCoin (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@prR ... e.com minus berr> on Monday December 02, 2013 @04:52AM (#45572807)

    So RMS wants the same thing as everyone else in the Crypto-Currency community. Good for him (If only he would contribute something other than a desire...).
    ...
    Reminds me of how RMS wants Emacs to become WYSIWG [gnu.org], but seems opposed to using existing solutions, or implementing it himself, or actually making a feature list or design for it himself.

    Maybe you missed that whole GNU project thing. He contributed so much he can barely type without a special low pressure keyboard anymore because his hands are ruined from all the contributing ungrateful fucks like you ignore. Now he contributes the best way he can via public awareness, speeches, etc. When he's dead I bet you'll be bitching about how his corpse doesn't even advocate for free software anymore.

    When I was a teen I only new a little ASM and some BASIC. I wanted to make games with smooth scrolling graphics, but BASIC was too slow. I complained on local a BBS's BASIC board about the predicament and the sarcastic response was, "If BASIC is too slow, make your own damn language." So, with only a rudimentary knowledge of x86 assembly, and not a single programming lesson, I did just that. I had wasted months of fighting to increase performance of my BASIC program: It only took a couple of weeks to make an interpretor and then a simple compiler for my language and it faster than BASIC (didn't need a runtime.exe either). It had just never occurred to me that I could make my own programming language -- or anything wholly in ASM for that matter. My sarcastic friend was impressed and surprised that I had heeded his bad advice, and we both sold software on Compuserve built with my language for years afterwards, no expensive C compiler / license required. The point is that making a suggestion, or getting the idea out there is sometimes all it takes to cause something to spring into existence.

    RMS is good at taking positions on issues, and does a good job representing his particular viewpoint, but I wouldn't expect much more out of him.

    So, he's good at what he does, and though he doesn't claim to do the grunt work of implementing or designing stuff anymore, we shouldn't expect him to? Gotcha. Additionally: You're essentially in agreement with RMS if you think that we need a workable anonymous crypto currency -- You essentially said so yourself by mentioning that Zerocoin has performance problems. Hey, maybe a protocol that was built for anonymity from the ground up wouldn't suffer such performance problems? His advice when re-implementing a UNIX tool is to aim for different goals. If theirs is fast, aim for less memory consumption instead; If theirs is processor intensive, aim for stability instead; or vise versa -- This way the implementations will be very different even if they serve the same ends. In other words, what RMS and I know is that just because Zerocoin or BASIC exists doesn't mean there's only one way to skin the cat.

  • by GauteL (29207) on Monday December 02, 2013 @05:00AM (#45572833)

    "In the case of digital currency, there is no short-term benefit for swapping coins, but there is no loss either."

    Are you kidding? There's a major loss; making theft virtually untraceable and thus making theft considerably more attractive. Now even the not-so-clever criminals in western easy-to-reach-by-the-law countries can get in on the online theft game. Not just those that are good at hiding their tracks or are in countries that won't cooperate with your own country's police.

    If someone steals your digital coins, they may end up virtually (ha!) anywhere, with little or no chance of ever find them again.

    This is what we had with a cash-only economy, except much, much worse, since the thieves don't have to be physically close to you or your money. For most people, moving away from a cash-only economy has had the great benefit that their accumulated wealth is much better protected.

    Also, corruption (which anonymous currency is fantastic for) is hardly a "friendly thought-crime which doesn't affect others".

  • Re:ZeroCoin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Monday December 02, 2013 @05:46AM (#45572927)

    The same applies for cash, but people dont hesitate to use it. They dont really see it as clean cash and dirty cash. Cash is cash.

  • Re:Blockchain (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @05:58AM (#45572955)

    It's orthogonal. The Ponzi aspect is due to the mining reward structure in the early days. That, and the current volatility, which makes it much easier to classify BitCoin as not being (a good form of) money. This is relevant because (as noted by the thread starter) there are other digital currencies that do not have the same bootstrapping problem that BitCoin faced.

    Nice troll but the answer is actually short too, sorry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @06:15AM (#45573011)

    It's called cash.

  • Re:ZeroCoin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday December 02, 2013 @06:29AM (#45573075) Homepage Journal

    But cash is hard to automate. Washing $100 you stole from someone's wallet clean is easy, you just go shopping. But washing $1 mio. you picked up in a drug deal or bank robbery isn't that easy anymore.

  • by jythie (914043) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:37AM (#45573691)
    That is one of the classic tradeoffs when it comes to freedom. There are all sorts of activities that people both want for personal freedom but are also used by bad people to do, well, bad things. Sometimes it makes sense for the general population to have a freedom restricted in order to make it more difficult for a minority to use that same freedom to hurt people. Other times it doesn't.. and while people will often site extreme examples one way or the other, usually it is a non-trivial trade off.

    What I find sad is how many people fight the middle grounds, attempts to find a balance between people keeping their general freedom while still trying to do something to reign in the bad actors. Much of the debate around CTRs is like that, something that disproportionately makes things more difficult for criminals but people still fight it on philosophical personal freedom grounds.

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