By CCN.com: The most recent claimant to the Bitcoin throne, Craig Wright, continued his campaign against cryptocurrency privacy this week. The Bitcoin SV frontman questioned the legality of coin mixers – tools which jumble transactions together for purposes of anonymity – and threw some less-than-good-natured barbs at competing crypto projects.
Wright’s latest in a long line of blog posts maintains the inflammatory and combustible tone he’s become known for. But when he’s not calling Bitcoin Cash (BCH) “B*tCHcoin”, Wright touches on a serious issue that looms large over the ongoing cryptocurrency experiment.
Recently labeled the “Satoshi Pretender” by John McAfee, Craig Wright stated recently that he has no problem with what he regards as competing systems, such as Ethereum and Litecoin. Where he takes umbrage is when people try to pass off “his” invention as something that it’s not. According to Wright:
“When they do so to help facilitate the use of my invention to promote crime and money laundering, then I get really upset. Such is what people around both BTC and BCH are seeking. They seek to make the new version of a criminal money-laundering coin.”
In his latest post, Wright expounds on the legality of the CoinJoin – a privacy protocol which jams multiple Bitcoin transactions into a single transaction. This makes it harder to track whose money has been where, adding an element of anonymity to the currently pseudonymous Bitcoin.
A recent article by Coincenter.org takes the view that tools such as transaction mixers, and their developers, are not subject to U.S regulation. Neeraj Agrawal argues that FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) guidance suggests a clear difference between monetary and software laws. Agrawal writes that the FinCEN guidance:
“…draws a critical distinction between those who provide services that can anonymize cryptocurrency payments and others who only provide software.”
But according to Wright, those software laws stand for very little the moment a U.S citizen puts their money down. Wright quotes Grinberg (Reuben?), who notes the precarious nature of foreign exchange, and decentralized software laws in the face of U.S legislators:
“Not being located or not operating out of the US is not going to save you unless you are ultra careful not to have any kind of connection to the US market, a tall order.”
Wright states that anyone developing or maintaining such a mixer service would have to prove that U.S users aren’t using it. How that would be achievable is difficult to parse, but that’s the only way to avoid a legal crackdown by U.S financial crimes authorities.
In order to prosecute someone involved with such a service, a U.S agent would merely have to submit their own transaction – thus immediately proving criminal action.
Wright’s vision of a crackdown on decentralized services is no doubt a dangerous possibility. But bear in mind that such fear-mongering works in Wright’s favour, as he currently attempts to assume control of Bitcoin by making it legally palatable.
Wright continues, taking aim specifically at CoinJoin, and Bitcoin Cash, which now boasts its own range of coin mixing services. He states:
“…not only that enhanced CVC (convertible virtual currencies) transactions are without exception required to be registered, but that the mere use of something like the built-in mixer in CoinJoin acts to alter the basic function of Bitcoin or B*tCHcoin such that it is covered and must be registered as an MSB (money services business).”
Wright’s interpretation of the regulation might contrast with that of the SEC, which deemed Ethereum and Bitcoin to be free from financial security status owing to their decentralized nature. So does decentralization subvert physical law, or not?
That’s a question we’ll all know the answer to sooner or later. In the meantime, the Craig Wright saga continues, as he prepares for a $10.8 billion court appearance in Florida next week.
Last modified: August 12, 2020 10:54 AM UTC