The War of Privacy
Your Privacy is Under Assault.
Everywhere we look, our privacy is under attack.
Governments and powerful corporations can see whatever we read, talk and do with our money.
In extreme cases such as in Turkey, people are even being jailed for downloading certain apps.
In 2016 there was a coup d’etat where the military used an app called ByLock, a smartphone messaging app in order to topple the government.
The government then hit back by jailing 75,000 civilians who downloaded the app even if they didn’t have anything to do with the coup.
And that doesn’t just happen over abroad. It is happening in every country including the United States.
FBI director James Comey was quoted saying, “You have no right to privacy at all. There is no longer ‘absolute privacy’ in the US,” Comey said at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity back in March 2017.
In the eyes of Authority and centralized regimes, no corner of your life is a secret. They can take a peek at you whenever they feel like it.
That’s why it didn’t come as a surprise when Snowden exposed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been monitoring everything we do on the internet globally for decades.
If you think it’s fine and you have nothing to hide, wait till the government has complete oversight on your money.
Don’t let the financial crisis of the pass elude you because you’re comfortable with the way things are at the moment.
What can they do if they cannot pay back? Only one of three things (All three are bad for you):
- -Print more money
- -Tax your wealth
- -Default on its loans
Even if you’re using the Global Standard currency which is the US. Dollar, a high debt always undermines the credibility of a currency. And when that happens, creditors may be reluctant to loan money out to the US government.
Whatsmore a trade war with China or a war with North Korea would exacerbate the matter. (The U.S. is now over $21 trillion in debt — here’s how it got there)
One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to impose new taxes. That’s what happened in my country if you’re “lucky”.
Cypriots had to learn it the hard way, 30% of their money got confiscated by their government during the 2013 banking crisis. And everyone thought their money was safe inside a bank.
With cryptocurrencies, you can take back control of your money. And no one can ever steal the wealth you so rightly deserve. Governments and Banks hate this.
Long story short, your world and my world is getting smaller and less private these days.
Hence, the ideology behind the creation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies comes from the NEED to win back OUR PRIVACY.
Satoshi developed bitcoin with the aim of taking away our codependency on financial institutions and governments.
Giving back financial control to the masses will ultimately result in reclaiming our right to privacy.
When bitcoin was born, it was designed to usher in this new era. This technology was the first of its kind; widely seen as an anonymous (not really) pseudonymous way we could transact monetary value.
The cryptocurrency was virtually impossible to trace when you take extra added precautions.
However, as Bitcoin took off mainstream, law enforcement became increasingly adept at tracking their movement and mapping out which address belongs to who.
With Bitcoin being touted as the go to cryptocurrency for institutional money and the mainstream public, totally untraceable coins may not be much of an appeal to certain factions.
Having said that, there are still legitimate and warranted reasons why we want to transact anonymously on the internet.
The thing about cryptos is, no one including your government can ever stop you from buying or selling it.
And that is why privacy coins are highly sought after.
Privacy enforces our freedom. Our privacy is not simply a privilege derived from our freedom like denizens of a goldfish bowl. What is freedom without privacy?
Embracing these coins does not mean that you are a drug lord or a kingpin. In fact, a majority of cryptocurrency buyers are legitimate users who are not constantly plaguing the world with ransomware attacks, illicit drugs, child pornography and weaponry.
You may be surprised, but Bitcoin still is the gold standard for dark web currency followed by Litecoin. Bitcoin acts like an internet protocol layer like TCP/IP and can be developed into layers of additional security and privacy.
This simply means that Bitcoin still is the go to standard for private transactions followed by Litecoin
Let’s take a look at the Alternatives
focused on transaction privacy
Monero has always been thought as the most popular cryptocurrency amongst anonymity and privacy enthusiasts. It was previously proven that a transaction using Monero is completely untraceable, ensuring that the user stays anonymous, thus maintaining their privacy.
Monero transactions performs a ring signature with older transactions so that a particular transaction all appear to be the same.
In addition, the Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT) improves anonymity and security by hiding the amount of your transaction while also making it unlinkable.
Since addresses are obfuscated, blockchain analysis becomes nearly impossible, thus making Monero Unhackable and trustless.
On top of their Ring Confidential Transactions, Monero utilizes stealth addresses to hide where you’re sending it to. This makes both the sender and the receiver anonymous.
- Monero is completely anonymous and their protocols are mandatory unlike Confidential Transactions in Litecoin.
- The mining algorithm of Monero is designed in such a way that people can mine it using ordinary computers.
- In order to counter transaction delay, Monero has an adaptive block size which handles an increase in a transaction without any issue.
- Monero’s Invisible Internet Project protects the Monero network from monitoring, ensuring that transactions are untraceable and user’s identities are hidden.
NOTE: Researchers from Princeton, Carnagie Mello, Boston University, MIT and University of Illinois found flaws in Monero’s Tech. It is not as untraceable as previously thought.
DASH considers itself a privacy coin that provides users with anonymity.
DASH, however, doesn’t work the same way Monero does. The PrivateSend feature of DASH isn’t all that anonymous. It is rather an improved version of CoinJoin with extra features like decentralization and chaining approach.
The Dash protocol has an in-built decentralized mixing service which enables the cryptocurrency to remain fungible. This is what makes it different from bitcoin. To use the PrivateSend feature, at least three people are required. The funds from the participants are merged together, creating obfuscated transactions.
At the moment, using DarkSend has limitations, with only 1,000 Dash allowed per session. Also, before maximum anonymity and privacy are achieved, several PrivateSend sessions must be completed.
- Dash’s InstantSend feature ensures that transactions are usually confirmed in less than a minute. This makes it ones of the best cryptocurrencies in terms of transaction speed.
- Your transaction history and balances are kept private using the PrivateSend feature. This feature is an improved version of CoinJoin and has the ability to make transactions anonymous.
- Dash has a self-governing and self-funding protocol. This protocol is designed to ensure that anyone in the Dash community can propose a project or an idea to the network. The proposal is put to a vote and voted on by masternodes. If a project is voted in, it will be funded by the rest of the block reward which is usually 10%. This implies that Dash network’s growth is funded by its community.
Verge makes use of Tor technology and I2P routing which offers its users privacy. The privacy of Verge isn’t cryptographic like that of Monero, rather the sender’s and receiver’s IP addresses are hidden during transactions.
Aside from that, other information on the Dash network is as public as the one on the bitcoin network. Without the IP addresses though, it is virtually impossible to trace funds. Verge has received attention from big security experts like John McAfee and it is safe to assume that big things will happen for this currency this year.
- Wraith protocol technology adopted by verge allows users to switch between private and public transactions. Users such as merchants and other businessmen who value transparency and accountability, can easily switch and make their transactions public.
- Their transaction speed is very fast. Usually, verge transactions are completed within 5.10 seconds after initiating it.
A privacy coin that burst onto the scene and is giving the others a run for their money is Pivx. Amongst the privacy coins, it is currently the fourth largest in terms of market cap. Pivx works similar to Dash (it is a hardfork of Dash), with users allowed to run masternodes to support the blockchain.
Unlike Dash that requires 1,000 coins to run masternodes, Pivx masternodes requires users to lock at least 10,000 coins. Thus, most of the Pivx coin supply currently available are locked up in the masternode.
Instant transaction is something that it has in common with Dash also. Using SwiftTX, Pivx transactions are completed almost immediately. The implementation of the zerocoin protocol by Pivx made P2P transactions more secure and anonymous. Zerocoin basically makes use of the Zero-Knowledge proof which requires a user termed as the prover to prove to another user, in this case, the verifier, that a transaction is genuine. All this is done without publicly providing any information
- The zerocoin protocol makes Pivx a truly fungible currency. Transactions between individuals can be confirmed without ever making the details public.
- Its SwiftTX feature means that transactions are confirmed almost immediately. This is something that most cryptocurrencies lack.
- Their obfuscation mixing mechanism has ensured that it is very hard, virtually impossible for an individual to de-anonymize a single transaction mixed with 8 rounds of Obfuscation, making transactions very secure and anonymous.
ZCash makes use of the zero-knowledge proofs to ensure that their users remain anonymous. The zero-knowledge proof functions by granting verification and privacy of data simultaneously. ZCash uses this technology to encrypt both the sender and the receiver’s address, with the transaction amount also encrypted.
To achieve these encryptions, ZCash uses ZK-SNARKS technology. With this technology, the sender doesn’t have the ability to generate a specific string of data unless they are in possession of the spending key for that particular address. In addition to that, both the input and output has to be equal.
Keep in mind that the ZK-SNARKS doesn’t give ZCash absolute anonymity. A blockchain analyst can still be able to extract transaction information from public transactions. Since the IP address of users is obfuscate, funds can still be traced to the original sources. To use the privacy feature on ZCash is quite demanding though since you will need 4 Gigabytes of RAM at least.
- Even though not traditionally a privacy coin, ZCash using the ZK-SNARKS can give anonymity to users during a transaction. However, that anonymity isn’t absolute. The ZCash blockchain shows that a transaction has occurred but doesn’t reveal the amount that was transferred.
One feature that makes spectracoin a very good cryptocurrency is its energy efficient algorithm. The algorithm is also designed to ensure rapid transactions. In terms of anonymity, Spectracoin uses stealth address to ensure that their users remain anonymous.
To maintain user anonymity using stealth addresses, spectrecoin makes use of ring signatures. They also utilize Proof-of-Stake (PoSv3) consensus when confirming transactions. The Tor OBFS4 makes spectrecoin different from other privacy coins. The feature effectively obfuscates the IP address.
OBFS4 cloaks the traffic to make it appear like a normal internet traffic. This way, spectracoin are able to evade the censorship methods used by most governments.
- Spectrecoin, making use of stealth addresses gives its users anonymity during transactions.
- As a privacy coin, spectrecoin has an energy-efficient proof-of-stake algorithm, which allows transactions to be completed within seconds at a low cost.
This is an untraceable privacy coin that uses Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT) technology. This technology is highly encrypted so that you can remain anonymous. Sumokoin as a fork of Monero was created with privacy in mind.
By design, all transactions on the sumokoin blockchain make use of RingCT with a minimum ringsize of 12. This is to hide the sources and the amounts transferred. The distributed consensus is used when confirming a transaction, which is later recorded on the blockchain.
Thanks to all these features, sumokoin is a fungible coin.
- Using sumokoin, you can transfer funds anonymously. The Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT) hides your transaction.
- As a fork of Monero, sumokoin has all the advantages that the Monero technology has.
Navcoin was the first coin to address the coin to address the privacy issue of Bitcoin. Created in 2014, most of Navcoin’s coding is similar to that of Bitcoin. Navcoin developed Navtech, which is a dual-blockchain structure and allows users break the chain of transactions.
- Using the Navtech, Navcoin allows users to remain anonymous during transactions.
- Their transactions are very fast, usually takes about 30 seconds to be completed.
This is one of the least known cryptocurrencies in the world, with several traders and investors still unaware of it. Interestingly, this currency falls into the anonymous crypto group. Just like ZCash, Komodo uses the ZK-SNARK protocol otherwise called the zero-knowledge proofs.
This currency is able to use this feature because it was forked out of ZCash, with its proof of algorithm upgraded to ensure a better security. Komodo, however, isn’t focused on decentralization alone, the team is also involved in decentralized exchanges, cross chain atomic swaps, and others.
- Just like its parent ZCash, Komodo uses the ZK-SNARK technology which gives you anonymity during transactions. It, however, has the same flaws as ZCash.
Zcoin is a cryptocurrency that is powered by Zerocoin protocol. This protocol is regarded as the most popular cryptographic approach of anonymous transactions. It is an example of a zero-knowledge proof that helps you prove you have information without disclosing what the information is. It is the zerocoin protocol that ensures that users remain anonymous during transactions.
- The Zcoin makes use of the zerocoin protocol that makes it possible for users to confirm possession of information without actually revealing what the information is.
Horizen formerly ZenCash (ZEN)
Another anonymous currency forked from ZCash, ZenCash makes use of the same ZK-SNARK technology to give users anonymity during transactions. Just like ZCash, this currency also has minimum dedicated RAM required to send a cloaked transaction. At the moment, the minimum RAM requirement stands at 3.2GB, which should be used on a 64-bit processor with a 64-bit OS
Their main difference with ZCash is the attention they pay to usability. They have overtime implemented several types of wallet, while also working on developing a base layer of shielded transactions which will help boost anonymity via the security nodes.
- The ZK-SNARK technology ensures that users are anonymous.
- They have improved usability, with the wide array of wallets available.
- You can get ZEN on Binance or Changelly. Two of the most popular exchanges.
This is the first digital currency that was the derived from CryptoNote. Its anonymity is possible because of the CryptoNote technology it makes use of. Bytecoin utilizes the cryptonight proof-of-work algorithm. For the algorithm to work, it needs a minimum of 2MB per instance. It also has the ring signatures.
- Transactions suing Bytecoin are untraceable. The ring signatures ensure that nobody will know the original wallet address of the sender while the CryptoNote technology gives you anonymity during transactions.
There is a trade off needed to see privacy coins succeed in the long run.
An Overly private coin may appeal to a very specialize section of the crowd, but it may drive institutional investors away and governments may outlaw it completely. But then again, the function of private cryptocurrencies is to exist without the need for governments approval.
Developers have created Confidential Transactions within layers of Bitcoin and Litecoin which gives you optional privacy but are still no silver bullet for privacy.
Every privacy oriented coin is claiming to pick up where Bitcoin left off, fulfilling Satoshi’s vision of an ideal decentralized peer-to-peer cash system. But i believe many coins were born in the aftermath of Bitcoin’s success purely out of greed.
Why do you think Satoshi left and moved on to other projects? No matter what conspiracy theory you choose to believe, decentralize and private networks do not need a leader at the helm.
It is wise not to try to reinvent the wheel – just look at the origin of Bitcoin. Where it came from and how it arrived mainstream. Bitcoin is like a protocol layer constantly adapting and evolving to better suit the needs of the many versus the needs of a few.
For the past 5 years, while many have envisioned the day that the other privacy oriented Altcoins would ultimately take over Bitcoin’s mantle, bitcoin still is the gold standard and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
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