May Day, May Day, it’s about to get dark.
Dark Wallet (Alpha), the bitcoin wallet software that uses the power of encryption and technology of CoinJoin, came out today.
The legality of coin mixing services is still unclear, and the fact that some coin mixing services go by names like ‘The Bitcoin Laundry’ and ‘BitLaundry’ does not bode well in the regulatory spotlight. Although, one can argue the right to financial privacy because bitcoin is only pseudo-anonymous.
I took my questions to computer security expert, Kristov Atlas, author of Anonymous Bitcoin, to see what he thought.
“You’ve got to admire Cody and Amir for their candor concerning their goals for financial privacy.” – Kristov Atlas
How do you feel about Dark Wallet?
“Dark Wallet looks like an excellent tool for improving Bitcoin privacy. It should make privacy much more accessible to the common Bitcoin user. Bitcoin isn’t very private for the average user because of the ways they are using it and the software they’re using. One of the reasons I wrote a book about how to achieve Bitcoin privacy was because the tools that you need are all over the place, and deciding between competing options is beyond the savvy of the average Bitcoin enthusiast. Dark Wallet should help to consolidate many of those tools into one, easy-to-use software package.”
People will view this as a way to more easily launder bitcoins to facilitate trade in online black markets, funding of radical groups or other nefarious activities, what would you say to this argument?
“It will be a long while still before bitcoin is used for more criminal activity than the legacy banking system, so for now that’s a red herring. Also, I think many liberty proponents have made a strong argument that the worst human crimes are being done openly by people in power. Compared to those moral crimes, bitcoin and dark wallet actually can *never* be used for criminal activities on the same scale because of the inherent limitations programmed into Bitcoin.”
This is really what crypto-anarchy comes down to, can the government regulate this?
“As long as the code is open source and anyone can run it, I think they will have a very difficult time attempting to regulate it. Ever since the crypto wars of the late 20th century, cryptographers have maintained their legal right to release code as a freedom of speech. If they attempt to block or identify traffic from Dark Wallet, they will likely only drive the developers to make it darker. It’s a cat and mouse game, and the mice have been winning for the last decade.
Satoshi also has proved that, regardless of our legal freedoms, it’s still possible to unleash technology pseudonymously and without asking for permission from anyone else.”
So do you think Dark Wallet is good for Bitcoin?
“Dark Wallet will still be a little rough around the edges when it first launches — Amir has talked publicly about how they still have plans to improve Dark Wallet by increasing the number of people you can simultaneously mix your coins with, integrating access to privacy networks like Tor… but this is helping Bitcoin catch up. Lately altcoins like Darkcoin have been the leaders in improving crypto-currency privacy, and Dark Wallet potentially stands to put Bitcoin back in the lead.”
Dark Wallet Alpha is available for download at darkwallet.is/download.