Bitcoin mixing, the practice of scrambling one’s bitcoin with others in order to obscure the connection between an individual’s identity and coin address information, has seen a number of innovations over the last decade. Some of the early mixing efforts took the simple form of two coin holders privately agreeing to swap coins in like amounts and led to the formation of transaction aggregation services, crypto tumblers, Lightning, and the practice of moving coin balances through interim coins like Dash or Monero, or others. There are also logless VPNs, Tor, and using HD (“Deterministic”) wallets. Each of these practices comes with a set of costs and benefits, and none are perfect; thus, many cryptocurrency users and devotees employ several or all of these means to maintain their anonymity.
And so it is that the recent arrest and indictment of DropBit CEO Larry Harmon several weeks back sent a chill down the spines of crypto users and privacy entrepreneurs alike.
Between 2014 and 2017, Harmon operated a custodial tumbler service, Helix, a sidecar to a darknet search engine called Grams and eventually to the darknet marketplace AlphaBay (among others). This service allowed users to search, buy and sell on the unindexed deep web with new addresses generated for each transaction.
The indictment against Harmon claims, among other things, that over 350,000 BTC was received into custody, tumbled and then transmitted by Helix without a license from the Superintendent of the Office of Banking and Financial Institutions of the District of Columbia (some of his customers having been located there), without being registered with FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), and in violation of a number of federal laws.
It’s worth remembering that right about the time that Harmon was arrested — in fact, the day before — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke before the Senate Finance Committee. Applying such classic and time-worn euphemisms to cryptocurrencies as being a “crucial area” (translated: “a crackdown is about to begin”) and calling for increased “transparency” (translated: “your expectations of privacy are way too high”), his speech was capped off by words that many of us have long expected: that bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies more generally, pose a national security threat to the United States.
The problem, of course, is that the putative threats mostly represent entrenched interests and institutions situated high in the edifice of state power. While one can understand that large firms and legacy institutions (a particular one of which is characterized by an intractable quasi-government ownership structure) would rent-seek to prevent their displacement by competing ideas, technologies and new institutions, that understanding takes a form similar to that which accompanies seeing nations go to war or watching a bully victimize a smaller, weaker person: It occurs, it may even be inevitable, but no one should stand aside silently.
Issues of KYC and AML
The implications of this newly reinvigorated push has implications for all bitcoin and crypto owners and users — the overwhelming majority of which have never transacted upon (let alone visited) the dark web. At present, individuals are not responsible for knowing the precise history of their coins. But if laws relating to the responsibility of a purchaser to ascertain whether their property has been stolen or not extends to crypto, or (more likely) if exchanges decide to include blockchain analysis in the measures they undertake to “reasonab[ly]” ensure that they are vigilant against money laundering, the fungibility of bitcoin will be damaged. There is no established standard against accepting coins with mixing in their histories; yet if it becomes the modus operandi, many coins will be rendered unusable.
If one purchases, sells or even receives a coin which, unbeknownst to them, contains a “laundered” history or objectionable material (your imagination suffices), is legal culpability triggered?
How much personal responsibility does one bear for knowing the recent (or, indeed, all) transactions a coin or other crypto asset in their possession has been party to? Can coins which have been mixed in the past or been part of illegal transactions be seized in the same way that funds and other sorts of property can in civil forfeiture proceedings?
The particulars of the Harmon case also involve other issues which perennially plague the crypto community, and specifically that exceedingly important part of our community which seeks to broaden the commercial usage of crypto: KYC/AML. I personally believe that one can do far more to further the cause of liberty (of which crypto is a key component) from outside of a jail cell than inside one. Thus, however begrudgingly, not running afoul of existing laws is critical; indeed, anyone who truly understands the power of the state would and should counsel adherence to the rule of law. But parallels between the massive expansion of two nearly contemporaneous government initiatives, the “Bank Secrecy Act” (October 26, 1970) and the so-called “War on Drugs” (June 18, 1971) over half a century cannot be ignored.
Personal Responsibility and Bitcoin Privacy — For the Greater Good
But every individual who has ever owned or used bitcoin has a responsibility to themselves, to fellow bitcoin owners and proponents, and to the many who would use bitcoin to establish the following precept: We are not guilty and do not concede any guilt whatsoever, by virtue of the simple fact that we own or transact in cryptocurrencies. We will not be accused, nor will we recognize suspicious overreach in the face of seeking to maintain privacy in our transaction histories.
And we make no apology, whatever arguments are made or caveats flung, for seeking the rights to privacy which are enshrined not just in the Constitution but more importantly in the natural order. If there is indeed a “national security interest” at stake, it begins not with monetary innovation but vastly more fundamentally: with the predictable mobilization against technological, financial and social innovation by states and their factotums.
This is an op ed contribution by Peter C. Earle. Views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Inc.
The post “Your Expectations of Privacy Are Too High” (But They Shouldn’t Be) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Crypto Travel Agency Travala Enters Chinese Travel Market
The Binance-backed cryptocurrency travel booking website Travala is reportedly expanding into the growing Chinese travel market, as the country’s tourism industry starts rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CoinDesk, the online travel agency has launched a Chinese language website and created a regional customer support team. It’s also starting to market to travelers in […]
The Binance-backed cryptocurrency travel booking website Travala is reportedly expanding into the growing Chinese travel market, as the country’s tourism industry starts rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to CoinDesk, the online travel agency has launched a Chinese language website and created a regional customer support team. It’s also starting to market to travelers in the country, in a bid to capitalize on the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
Speaking to the publication Juan Otero, CEO of Travala.com, revealed the firm is trying to capitalize on domestic tourism. He said:
Europe, the U.S. and our other strong markets will potentially take a good three to four months to recover, whereas in China, the recovery is happening now and very fast
China’s domestic flight bookings are reportedly back up to pre-COVID-19 levels, and hotels are now filing up for the upcoming Golden Week holiday. Per Otero, China is one of the “largest domestic travel markets in the world.”
In its bid to expand to the Chinese market, Travala will also start accepting WeChat Pay as a payment option, along with its lineup of cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, which now include CNY. As CryptoGlobe reported, the online travel agency partnered earlier this year with the Expedia Group to add more than 700,000 hotels and accommodations to its platform, in addition to the 2 million hotels it already had.
In a blog post, Travala notes that WeChat users will soon be able to login or signup to the platform using their WeChat accounts, as users are already able to connect to it using Facebook, Google, and Binance.
Featured image via Unsplash.
XRP long-term Price Analysis: 19 September
XRP took a substantial hit in terms of its price this month, with the cryptocurrency falling on the charts in early-September on the back of Bitcoin’s fall. However, the past week has illustrated a determined XRP, one with strong bullish momentum as it tried to recover its previous losses.
At press time, XRP was being traded at $0.24 with a market cap of over $11 billion. Despite the previous week’s upward momentum, the price of the coin did note a minor dip of over 1 percent over the past 24-hours, with a trading volume of $2 billion.
XRP 4-hour chart
According to XRP’s 4-hour chart, the price has been moving in a steady ascending channel with a long-term breakout downwards expected in the coming week. The uptrend noticed on the daily chart may end up with a slight correction over the aforementioned period, however, dropping the price to its support at $0.241. With the price continuing to move within the formation, it is likely to briefly visit its resistance level at $0.25, following which, a downward breakout is quite possible. Further, there was an additional support at $0.23 and a resistance level at $0.27 for the coin.
At the time of writing, the MACD indicator had undergone a bearish crossover, confirming the possibility of a downward dip in the coin’s price over the coming week. Further, the RSI also echoed a similar sentiment, with the same falling towards the oversold zone on the charts.
Most altcoins in the long-term do exhibit substantial correlation with the king coin – Bitcoin, and such is the case for XRP. Over the past year, the XRP-BTC correlation has registered a significant uptick from 0.66 to 0.81.
XRP’s long-term price action looked slightly bearish as the coin was likely to see its price dip to its immediate support in the coming week, once it breaks out of the ascending channel formation. However, before such a move is made on the price charts, the coin may see it touch the resistance at $0.25, following which, a drop was quite likely.
Opinion: Can Uniswap’s UNI Break Into the Top 10 Cryptocurrency Token Rankings?
The launch of Uniswap’s governance token UNI caught the cryptocurrency market left, right, and center. Some folks who received the airdrop for being a loyal Uniswap user before September 1, dumped it on the market to avail their free helicopter money. Some held on.
Nonetheless, UNI got listed on Coinbase Pro, Binance and it’s price shot through the roof. It’s now on number 32 as per CoinGecko. But can it break into the top 10?
UNI Token Price Pumps, Dumps Then Again Pumps
As reported by CryptoPotato, the listing of UNI on Coinbase and Binance led to a massive pump in the token’s price. UNI surged 300 percent from $1 to $4 before dropping to the lower $2 levels later in the day.
Then, the token went on a rampage and reached a high of just shy of $9 before retracing to where it’s currently trading at around $6.7. But the explosive price action has generated tremendous enthusiasm amongst traders and DeFi fans who are calling for UNI’s break into the top 10.
So much is the frenzy that users were found to buy ETH to collect their ‘UNI helicopter money’ despite surging gas prices on the Ethereum network.
— The Wolf Of All Streets (@scottmelker) September 17, 2020
Can Uniswap’s Governance Token Break Into Top 10?
Since the launch and a super volatile bout of trading activity, Uniswap’s governance token is already a number 32 cryptocurrency according to data from CoinGecko.
Uniswap is currently the top DeFi project according to DeFi Pulse. And has assets with a total USD value worth $1.8 billion docked up in the DEX. An increment of 90 percent in the last 24 hours.
UNI has a $720 million market cap and is handling a $4.5 billion daily trading volume. Something which is unusual for a digital asset at such lower rankings. But according to hopium laced optimistic predictions on Twitter, the token will actually be a ‘unicorn’ cryptocurrency with its entry in the top 10.
Prediction: $UNI will soon be the #3 crypto asset.
— Cole Kennelly ⬙ 🦄 (@ColeGotTweets) September 17, 2020
And actually there may be some substance in such a claim as out of a maximum supply of 1 billion, only around 106 million UNI tokens are in circulation. The coin is trading currently for a price of $6.7.
It must be taken into consideration that Coinbase has an equity stake in Uniswap’s parent company Universal Navigation Inc and also holds a sufficient number of UNI tokens, as mentioned in their UNI token listing blog post.
This imparts a certain dose of legitimacy to the decentralized token swapping protocol. As per CoinGecko with current prices, UNI would have a ‘fully diluted valuation’ of more than $6.5 billion. That would be enough to push it comfortably amongst the top 10 cryptocurrencies.
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