The B-Word

I just watched the Youtube record of a conversation between Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Cathie Wood titled “the B-Word”, moderated by Square Crypto lead Steve Lee.

I learned that Twitter still does not take Bitcoin as a payment for advertising. Musk asked Dorsey to think about doing that. And that Musk is considering taking it again at Tesla, since he seems satisfied that earlier conditions about CO2 emissions from mining dropping below 50% are met and things are improving.

There also was much consensus on people needing to own their keys. Use non-custodial ways to own your coins.

That is interesting since the EU Commission just published draft laws to push for more custodial Bitcoin use with their new money laundering framework.

They basically want to have the government informed about all payments, as it is with banks. Bitcoin does not need to use banks. If people keep their keys to themselves as was the consensus in this particular conversation, there are no intermediaries that can be targeted by anti-money-laundering legislation. That in turn means that it may be difficult to achieve the dream of having the government get all the data on all the citizens without a warrant and without limits.

I for one have no problem with that.

On the contrary. Those surveilling powers are always only increasing. I am not convinced that it was a good idea to let the government win at the Supreme Court in 1974 and introduce this system in the first place. And I certainly don’t believe in a society where the government gets to know everything about everyone without a warrant.

The reason for the Supreme Court majority to let the government get away with this was that claims of customers were premature, since they did not show actually having sent over $10,000 and that anyway, they disclosed their records voluntarily to their banks.

But with bitcoins under control of individuals, there is no such disclosure to any financial service provider. So if the government gets wholesale access to that information, there is really no way around requiring a warrant, which in turn removes the basis for treating anyone in sight as a criminal by default.

I recall that the surveillance fans lost at the European Court of Justice in 2014 when the fight was about recording all citizens’ communication traffic records. That was about six months worth of data. This latest proposal wants to oblige financial institutions to keep records for five years.

Maybe it is time for another challenge to the idea of the state knowing everything about everybody. The dissents in the above Supreme Court case are a good starting point for the discussion.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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