5 Bitcoin Projects That Could Make Payments Far More Anonymous

darkwallet06 May 2014 / Wired – Some believe that bitcoin’s anonymous properties are a bug, not a feature. This past January, New York financial regulator Benjamin Lawsky called for a crackdown on software that anonymizes transactions in the online digital currency, saying it will merely help criminals evade law enforcement. And one of the currency’s biggest supporters, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, believes bitcoin will truly thrive only after it shrugs off anonymity protections.

But some parts of the bitcoin community have other plans in mind.

Even as regulators work to tie new identity restrictions to bitcoin businesses, a collection of projects is moving in the opposite direction, trying to preserve or even upgrade bitcoin’s properties as an ultra-private, untraceable payment system as anonymous as handing off a briefcase of unmarked bills. Last week saw the launch of Dark Wallet, a piece of bitcoin software that represents perhaps the most radical move yet to evade tracking of who spends and receives bitcoin. When it comes to describing the project’s intentions, Dark Wallet’s 26-year-old organizer Cody Wilson doesn’t mince words. “It’s just money laundering software,” he says.

But despite the controversy that surrounds the idea of untraceable digital cash, efforts to make bitcoin anonymous serve a real need. Bitcoin transactions are public by default, visible to anyone who searches the blockchain, the distributed public ledger of all bitcoin payments that keeps it safe from forgery and fraud. Deny bitcoiners the ability to hide their identity, and they’re left with a serious privacy problem. “The problem is not just about how to buy drugs online,” says Ian Miers, a graduate researcher at Johns Hopkins focused on cryptocurrency privacy. “As bitcoin becomes more mainstream, it becomes an issue of how to fix consumer privacy.” The problem may be even bigger for companies. Legitimate businesses, for instance, may want to hide their transactions so that competitors can’t track their sales growth….. Read more



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