As Bitcoin businesses are forced to become compliant with financial regulations, they’re giving up anonymity, Venture Beat reports, and the Bitcoin community is not happy.
Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Robocoin announced that all of its ATM operators would have to enable anti-privacy software and hardware as part of a new effort toward compliance with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
“We hoped operators would always get to choose KYC [(Know Your Customer)] vs Non-KYC, but legal requirements have emerged that do not allow the choice. It has become clear that as a registered money service business (MSB), Robocoin cannot support non-KYC machines anywhere in the market. Under our lawyers’ advice, we cannot process anonymous financial transactions. [F]or operators unwilling to sacrifice anonymity in favor of compliance, we’re offering to resell their machines. Our legal compliance is paramount to our continued legal operation, and we cannot risk the future of the company to allow anonymity.”
If you are thinking that’s like having to show your id to buy a beer, well, you are totally right, and that’s precisely what I think will happen.
I think it’s quite obvious that the regulators will never allow the real Bitcoin to exist, but only compliant sanitized versions. Compliance with all financial regulations, even stupid ones, is the price that Bitcoin businesses have to pay to become mainstream. In particular, privacy and anonymity, which are really the heart and soul of Bitcoin as it was initially conceived, must go.
This isn’t surprising, for it’s in the nature of government to seek more power and total control. Just look at what happened to the Internet itself, initially conceived as “a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity,” and now routinely used to read our private letters, monitor our online behavior, and keep us under control, with the complicity of many big Internet companies.
Don’t think that mainstream Bitcoin companies will protect your privacy, for they will be forced to surrender your privacy if they want to stay in business. Privacy and freedom are personal rights that we must protect ourselves.
I am not criticizing the regulators for doing what they do, for it would be like criticizing stones for following the law of gravity. I am criticizing us, the sheeple of the world, for always letting them get away with it. Thomas Jefferson thought that a healthy society is one where the citizens watch and keep their government in check all the time to protect the society from the runaway control-freakery of its administrators.
We can watch and keep the government in check without breaking any law, for example by whistleblowing, voting for more libertarian candidates, supporting privacy-oriented projects, using privacy-oriented services like Tor and PGP (especially when we have nothing to hide), and boycotting anti-privacy services. In this case, I think we should boycott all anti-privacy Bitcoin ATMs and use other ways to buy and sell bitcoins locally, for cash.
What do you think of anti-privacy regulations and what should we do about them? Comment below!
Images from Robocoin and Shutterstock.