Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Stake in the Heart of Bitcoin Fanboys

On its website, IEEE, the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology, reports on a new attempt to create an anonymous digital currency. The e-currency is called Zcash.

I have no opinion on Zcash, itself. There are far from enough details in the article to make a judgment---other than to say it is at least a clever attempt to bring true annonomity to an e-currency but I am unconvinced. However, in advancing Zcash, the article does an excellent job of demolishing the idea that Bitcoin is some kind of anonymous currency.

Read this and weep Bitcoin fanboys. The truth is out:
 ZCash is identical to Bitcoin in a lot of ways. It’s founded on a digital ledger of transactions called a blockchain that exists on an army of computers that can be anywhere in the world. But it differs from Bitcoin in one critical way: It will be completely anonymous. Although privacy was a motivating factor for Bitcoin’s flock of early adopters, it doesn’t deliver the goods....
Bitcoin, the first and most widely used digital currency established the blockchain as a revolutionary technology. Blockchains provide a way for disparate, mistrustful parties to jointly maintain a public ledger of transactions and to do so in a way that renders all entries permanent.
The problem with Bitcoin as it is implemented today is that the entire history is public. Transactions are attributed to random identifiers that in themselves carry no information about the person controlling the accounts. But if users are not extremely careful, network analysis can reveal both the financial behavior and the real identities of the people behind the accounts. (Several companies, such as Chainalysis, now provide such a service.)


  1. It wasn't made to be anonymous it was made to be decentralized, and the blockchain is the only thing that would make it work, without it you would be able to spend the same bitcoin twice.

  2. Off topic, but the digital signatures on the Wikileaks emails prove they came from HRC email- any attempt to change dates, text, etc. would invalidate the Gmail cryptograph key embedded in all the emails.

  3. Is it good or bad that, at first, I honestly thought the picture on this article was Hillary Clinton?

  4. The article's claims about the anonymity of Zcash are overblown, but it still seems promising. As the Zcash FAQ points out:

    Zcash enhances privacy for users by encrypting sender, amount and recipient data within single-signature transactions published to its public block chain ledger.

    Zcash does not [...] protect against correlations made with public transactions (for example, when Zcash is traded to/from another cryptocurrency) or obfuscate IP addresses.

    So an outside observer can see that your IP address is using Zcash, but not who you are transacting with, nor for how much. (The best technical-but-still-readable overview of the details that I've seen is here.) If the crypto that hides transaction amounts and parties from anyone outside the transaction holds up, that's a clear improvement over Bitcoin as a medium of exchange.

    Money, of course, needs to be not just a medium of exchange but also a store of value, and none of these cryptographic tokens are backed by anything at all. So I find it astonishing that any of them is worth more than a few cents, as a curiosity. Some entity could make a lot of money backing Zcash with gold, except that it would be sued, hacked, or regime-changed out of existence in short order.

    While we are on the subject of violent suppression of threats to the current regime, I also thought the pic was a dead ringer for Hillary.