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Author Topic: Decentralised crime fighting using private set intersection protocols  (Read 33001 times)
Mike Hearn
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March 24, 2013, 06:05:12 PM
 #41

Think about it this way: would you argue that it is justified to require all Internet communication to be personalized and enforcing crime blacklists at the TCP level?

This already happens. What do you think SpamHaus is? That's right - a community run IP blacklist.

Spam RBLs are a good example of what I'm talking about. They were created because in most parts of the world spamming is either not a crime, or not an enforced one, but the internet community needed to beat spammers or  have email become completely worthless. So you started getting private blacklist operators and email servers check some subset of these blacklists.

Did some of the fears expressed on this thread become true? A little bit. Yes, spam RBLs reduced the "fungibility" of IP space because you might request some IPs and then discover they were already abused by their previous owners, so now not all IPs are created equal. SpamHaus and friends do sometimes blacklist people who are "innocent" or at least walking the line.

But at the same time, a lot of the more paranoid concerns never came true. Blacklists that were too aggressive and included too many innocent parties DID end up getting a poor reputation and being abandoned (I've seen this happen). Governments never seized control of the RBLs to censor email, even though they could have. Getting IP addresses didn't turn into a nightmare of endless blacklist checking. People did not abandon email en masse and it did not become a centralized system.

More importantly, because the internet community came up with its own solutions for fighting spam there wasn't much justification for governments stepping in and coming up with their own ideas, which would have been a disaster. If that'd happened you could pretty much expect an AML type solution for online communication, in which running an email server required licensing, ID verification of users, etc. Urgh.

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This will lead to everyone applying the most restrictive blacklists with the fastest and least false negative prone approval process possible before accepting any payment.

They're incentivised in other direction by actually receiving money, right?

I think a lot of people have missed that one of the available actions is just to report a flagged transaction but carry on with it anyway. That way you get the money, the other guy gets to spend it, but there's some paper trail should somebody want to follow up. This is how AML actually works today anyway, banks don't have to reject suspicious transactions, they just report them.

Quote
Just have a look at how much debate there is over the scammer label in this forum and how time consuming these debates are. Do you really think each and every merchant will take the time to listen to your life story before accepting your payment? Who is going to pay for that time and effort? Also this merchant will have to convince their supplier as well to take the money, etc.

That's not how it works. Let's say this forum operates a scammer blacklist and you and your money end up in it. OK, now when you try and spend that money, the other guy sees a message saying the money came from a scam. Firstly, that's probably a good thing - they're now informed whereas previously they weren't. Maybe they know your story and don't think the tag was deserved so they just go ahead and accept the transaction. Maybe they don't and decide they don't want to deal with scammer, OK, that's what the blacklist is for.

If they re-spend the money, it'll get reflagged again to the next guy. Maybe he doesn't know the underlying story and doesn't care, he just doesn't want any hassle so he refuses the payment.

You aren't hosed. You can "clean" those coins via a nexus. In other words, you take your probable-proceeds-of-scamming money and send it to a nexus who then goes ahead and takes some reasonable action, like recording who you are so if an investigation takes place in future there's some kind of trail to follow. Then they mark those outputs as clean in their whitelist and send them back to you. Now you can spend them without problem because the next guys wallet walks backwards, sees that the coins passed through a nexus and thus that it's all sorted.

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There is some hidden agenda, isn't it?

Forum posts hardly count as a hidden agenda Wink

By the way, for those frothing at the mouth about "censorship", that's something which is done by the state. Private individuals cannot censor each other. They can only decide whether to trade or not to trade.

Quote from: d'aniel
I'm curious about how people here would react if it became clear that a government ban on Bitcoin was being considered for the reasons Mike mentioned, and your political action wasn't likely to change this outcome.  Would you be willing to compromise and participate in such a self-policing proposal?  Would you thumb your nose at the authorities, and let them ban it?  Or would you perhaps go along with this for Bitcoin, but while participating in an underground fork (which avoids the chaos of transactions being valid on both chains somehow) whose focus was on extreme technical countermeasures to censorship and surveillance?  Or some other option?

As usual d'aniel nails it.

Way too many posters here seem to have a naive belief that Bitcoin is indestructable. Governments cannot do anything against it because ...... peer to peer!!!1!

But that isn't true. It is completely trivial for a government to squash Bitcoin out of existence with the stroke of a pen. All they have to do is say, of course you can accept and use coins! We just need you to take a few small measures to help us fight the terrorists. You can start by filling out this 100 page form, and registering with your local regulator. By the way, they will charge a fee of several thousand dollars to consider your application. After a few months they will evaluate your risk to the system and decide on the level of surety bond required, normally half a million dollars will do. Don't forget to do this in every state where you might have a counterparty!

An outlaw currency is not even useful to outlaws. So that would be the end of Bitcoin.

The absolute best way to bring this scenario about is to engage in a dick-waving contest with the police. How many politicians got elected by promising to be soft on crime? Zero. It never happens. So if the police go to your local representatives and say, "it feels like half of our investigations come to a dead end because the scammers are using Bitcoin" suddenly the idea of just regulating it out of existence will seem like an awfully good one to the decision makers, especially if 90% of the electorate just hasn't heard about Bitcoin or doesn't care yet.

That's why it's important for Bitcoin users to recognise that one day we might be asked, "what's your solution?" and an answer of "we don't have one" will result in regulation. And no amount of bitching or posting cute quotes from historical figures will change it.
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March 24, 2013, 06:21:22 PM
 #42

I like the idea, but it should NOT be integrated with bitcoin.  Bitcoin is supposed to be CASH.  Cash is cash, good or bad.  Still, you preemptively answered a lot of immediate questions and concerns I had with such an idea in your OP Mike.  Well though out, and interesting idea.

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March 24, 2013, 06:38:14 PM
 #43

Fungibility, a Bitcoin fundamental, and must remain this way. At any cost.

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March 24, 2013, 06:41:26 PM
 #44

An outlaw currency is not even useful to outlaws. So that would be the end of Bitcoin.

The absolute best way to bring this scenario about is to engage in a dick-waving contest with the police.

As usual, you're only going to prove how ignorant you are, and how dogmatically you are willing to pursue your point of view. Your point of view seems largely unappreciated, no-one is or has been arguing for this except you.

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Mike Hearn
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March 24, 2013, 06:41:42 PM
 #45

Yeah, so to be clear, there are no extensions or changes to Bitcoin necessary for this. So it'd never be required to use the system. It's an optional thing that people can take part in if they want to help raise the bar for criminals.

A lot of posts are of the form, "but eventually governments will mandate the use of a blacklist!". Reality check, they already do (see, the SDN list) and those blacklists apply regardless of what currency you use to trade. So you're worried about an eventuality that is already here. The system I've proposed is in every respect better than what is actually deployed by governments today - it has better respect for civil liberties, is more decentralized, etc.

Maybe one day society will give up on the idea of fighting crime through finance. I wouldn't cry about such an outcome - it's complicated and has all kinds of issues. But there is a 40+ year track record of doing so, hundreds of thousands of people who do it full time, etc. That isn't going to change overnight.



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March 24, 2013, 06:53:31 PM
 #46

Yeah, so to be clear, there are no extensions or changes to Bitcoin necessary for this. So it'd never be required to use the system. It's an optional thing that people can take part in if they want to help raise the bar for criminals.

A lot of posts are of the form, "but eventually governments will mandate the use of a blacklist!". Reality check, they already do (see, the SDN list) and those blacklists apply regardless of what currency you use to trade. So you're worried about an eventuality that is already here. The system I've proposed is in every respect better than what is actually deployed by governments today - it has better respect for civil liberties, is more decentralized, etc.

Maybe one day society will give up on the idea of fighting crime through finance. I wouldn't cry about such an outcome - it's complicated and has all kinds of issues. But there is a 40+ year track record of doing so, hundreds of thousands of people who do it full time, etc. That isn't going to change overnight.


Mike, despite any good intentions on your part, any intent of changing any Bitcoin fundamentals will ever be seen as a betrayal by the majority of Bitcoin community. And fungibility is one of that most appreciated fundamentals.

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March 24, 2013, 06:58:16 PM
 #47

Way too many posters here seem to have a naive belief that Bitcoin is indestructable. Governments cannot do anything against it because ...... peer to peer!!!1!

But that isn't true. It is completely trivial for a government to squash Bitcoin out of existence with the stroke of a pen. All they have to do is say, of course you can accept and use coins! We just need you to take a few small measures to help us fight the terrorists. You can start by filling out this 100 page form, and registering with your local regulator. By the way, they will charge a fee of several thousand dollars to consider your application. After a few months they will evaluate your risk to the system and decide on the level of surety bond required, normally half a million dollars will do. Don't forget to do this in every state where you might have a counterparty!

An outlaw currency is not even useful to outlaws. So that would be the end of Bitcoin.

The absolute best way to bring this scenario about is to engage in a dick-waving contest with the police. How many politicians got elected by promising to be soft on crime? Zero. It never happens. So if the police go to your local representatives and say, "it feels like half of our investigations come to a dead end because the scammers are using Bitcoin" suddenly the idea of just regulating it out of existence will seem like an awfully good one to the decision makers, especially if 90% of the electorate just hasn't heard about Bitcoin or doesn't care yet.

That's why it's important for Bitcoin users to recognise that one day we might be asked, "what's your solution?" and an answer of "we don't have one" will result in regulation. And no amount of bitching or posting cute quotes from historical figures will change it.

You are US-centric here, half the nodes are outside the US and probably more than half of all users are outside the US. I can wipe my ass with those 100 page forms  Tongue

Bitcoin can be used over TOR, not sure about I2P but IIRC there is a functional implementation of Namecoin over I2P (the same developer is working on DIANNA) and there are some plans of Bitcoin over Freenet although the works have stalled (probably until there is more demand for it). People are involved in cjdns and mesh networks, hopefully one day the Internet infrastructure will be operating independently of the governments ('I have a dream...').

The best the govts can do is follow North Korea's steps - allow only a few selected individuals to access the Internet. I don't believe they would go as far. Despite China's Great Firewall people are still able to bypass the censorship, same would happen to Bitcoin users if it was to be outlawed.
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March 24, 2013, 07:03:27 PM
 #48

And this is how china gains control of the the financial world. 1 billion people forced to follow their government blacklist.

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March 24, 2013, 07:05:43 PM
 #49

And trying to appear reasonable about pursuing something that is not reasonable just makes you look even more manipulative, Mike. You will end up with "torches and pitchforks" situation, directed entirely at you, and while I don't advocate making you or anyone else into a pariah, I wouldn't be especially inclined to stand in their way either.

Drop it, or people may prefer to drop you, however useful you are to the dev team. A divisive character with divisive viewpoints is just that, and it's not good for the community or the project.

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March 24, 2013, 07:11:53 PM
 #50


A lot of posts are of the form, "but eventually governments will mandate the use of a blacklist!". Reality check, they already do


Just because they do now doesn't mean it is good, or should be done this way in the future, the whole point of bitcoin is to make it decentralized, and under nobodies control. What you are suggesting will destroy bitcoin. We need to make bitcoin transactions even more anonymous instead of giving in to government control.

I have no idea how you are on the development team, you are proposing really horrible things that would make bitcoin no better than regular currencies.
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March 24, 2013, 07:18:22 PM
 #51

You are US-centric here, half the nodes are outside the US and probably more than half of all users are outside the US. I can wipe my ass with those 100 page forms  Tongue

Unfortunately most countries have similar laws. Not as extreme or bureaucratic as in the US, thank goodness. By the way, I'm a Brit who lives in Switzerland.

One reason every country has AML laws is that they're forced to through threat of sanctions Sad That's why simply saying, hey, let's try and dismantle the system ... it's a huge risk because your chance of convincing everyone, everywhere simultaneously that they've been doing it wrong for 40 years is very low.

Quote
Bitcoin can be used over TOR, not sure about I2P ...

Yes you can go fully underground. But then how do you exchange Bitcoins against the money you earn with your salary? How do you buy anything from a normal business? If your income is in Bitcoins earned via a hidden service how do you pay your rent?

Trying to build an entirely separate parallel economy that never touches the real one isn't going to work. That really would destroy Bitcoin!

Quote from: Carlton Banks
And trying to appear reasonable about pursuing something that is not reasonable just makes you look even more manipulative, Mike. You will end up with "torches and pitchforks" situation, directed entirely at you, and while I don't advocate making you or anyone else into a pariah, I wouldn't be especially inclined to stand in their way either.

Yes, how dare I appear reasonable! It doesn't get worse than that! Watch as I quake in fear in front of the almighty Carlton Banks!

I think some people here need to get real - nobody gives a shit what some random anonymous forum user posts, because talk is cheap and anonymous talk is free. See, when Vladimir posts, I read carefully because he has actually stood up in the past and set up real Bitcoin businesses, under his real name where people can find him. He's made himself accountable and taken risks for the project. When d'aniel posts, I read carefully because even though I don't know who he/she is, I find his/her posts to be highly insightful.

When Carlton Banks or mik3 posts? Who cares. They do no work. They don't take any risks. Their posts contain no new insights. They have no credibility and might as well not have posted at all.
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March 24, 2013, 07:26:31 PM
 #52

Sad

I bet if we had a discussion about legalizing child pornography here because of the ultimate existence of Tor and other services, people would be much more receptive to the theory and willing to discuss it, despite how disgusting the concept would be to so many people. Why can't the logic apply here? This thread is just being hijacked by vocal anti-intellectual forum users. How many people effectively calling Mike a statist conspirator even know what game theory is and how it applies here? This idea doesn't advance the libertarian utopia you all want, but it's still worth considering because governments will eventually consider imposing these types of restrictions anyway. We should think of reasons why it can't work, or any tangential discussions which have implications for Bitcoin's acceptance. Mike clearly loves Bitcoin and isn't suggesting something which would be imposed on others.

Controversial discussions are the best discussions.

I think Mike puts too much faith in the ability of people to stop accepting a blacklist if it's being abused. Rather, the blacklists will cascade because it puts the value of your business or coins at risk in future commerce otherwise. At best, through the ability to tailor your coins to trigger the fewest blacklists in certain contexts, the entire system would be balkanized by each country.

Maybe there is a way to democratically reject a blacklist if abuse occurs, so people aren't scared of putting their coins at risk?

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March 24, 2013, 07:27:12 PM
 #53

A comment in the Reddit post that sums it up:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1awu5j/decentralized_crime_fighting_aka_blacklists_for/c91lonj
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March 24, 2013, 07:28:44 PM
 #54


+1

edit; for those who dont have time to visit, the user is calling for a developer black list.


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March 24, 2013, 07:35:02 PM
 #55

+2

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March 24, 2013, 07:37:15 PM
 #56

Yes, how dare I appear reasonable! It doesn't get worse than that! Watch as I quake in fear in front of the almighty Carlton Banks!

I think some people here need to get real - nobody gives a shit what some random anonymous forum user posts, because talk is cheap and anonymous talk is free. See, when Vladimir posts, I read carefully because he has actually stood up in the past and set up real Bitcoin businesses, under his real name where people can find him. He's made himself accountable and taken risks for the project. When d'aniel posts, I read carefully because even though I don't know who he/she is, I find his/her posts to be highly insightful.

When Carlton Banks or mik3 posts? Who cares. They do no work. They don't take any risks. Their posts contain no new insights. They have no credibility and might as well not have posted at all.

Are you really resorting to ad hominem attacks now? I think you should take a time out for a few days before you post again, for your own sakes.

Then when you have cooled down, I would be very pleased if you read my post from september 2012, where I discuss issues similar to the ones your proposal could result in: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=114372.0

Or maybe you will not deem me worthy of a response, seeing how I value keeping my physical persona detached from my online one?

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March 24, 2013, 07:42:44 PM
 #57

When Carlton Banks or mik3 posts? Who cares. They do no work. They don't take any risks. Their posts contain no new insights. They have no credibility and might as well not have posted at all.

Mike, this attitude is thoroughly bizarre, but your attitudes overall are appearing increasingly so.

Is there a way that we can blacklist all coin outputs from your addresses? It'd probably be the biggest blacklist in your entire system, Mike.  

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March 24, 2013, 07:44:42 PM
 #58

Seems unpractical. All the perpetrator has to do is to launder his tainted coins (by using a mixer service, or by exchanging them for gold/fiat and back) before it goes into blacklist.

It's typical g$$gle attitude. Spy on everything that moves.
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March 24, 2013, 07:49:55 PM
 #59

Maybe there is a way to democratically reject a blacklist if abuse occurs, so people aren't scared of putting their coins at risk?

How is the majority just switching off a blacklist different to democratically rejecting it? It's the same thing, no?

Also, remember the whitelisting aspect. Once the coins pass through someone who you trust to have done something reasonable, the taint is gone.

Quote
This really shows you the type of person you are Mike, I think the power is getting to your head. What you are saying is that a person who has done things with bitcoin has more say in it than a simple user of it.

What power?

Yes, Bitcoin is ultimately built by people who do things with it. Create businesses, sell goods and services, provide infrastructure, write software, design hardware, etc. Buying some coins and sitting on them exposes you to risk in some sense, but not of the same level as say running an exchange. The guy who runs Mt Gox has to follow rules that can result in him being jailed if anything goes wrong.

Quote
Are you really resorting to ad hominem attacks now? I think you should take a time out for a few days before you post again, for your own sakes.

I'm responding to people who aren't doing or posting anything beyond, "zomg mike is an evil statist!" ... and pointing out that these posts don't carry much weight.

Dansker, I already read that thread. The concept of taint isn't new, for sure. But I think the concrete objections in that thread are addressed in this one. For instance, "what happens if coins get tainted after you already accepted them" - no problem. You could report it (to whomever), if you wanted to. Maybe someone will follow up later if it doesn't seem like too little bang for buck. Or you could do nothing, depending on your wish. If you are known to reliably take some useful action when coins get tainted then you are or could be a nexus and others can check your own whitelist, so then you'd effectively clear the taint. It isn't intended to last forever. Indeed it physically can't, the tracing process has limits even without whitelisting.

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March 24, 2013, 07:50:01 PM
 #60

Fungibility is an essential property for money to have.  If this idea is implemented bitcoin will no longer be money.  It will be worthless.

I am not surprised that this fatal idea is still around, because there are always more newbies picking up bitcoin every day.  I am surprised that an established bitcoiner would have this idea.

Mike Hearn, next time you have an idea please post under a pseudonym.  That will allow people to judge your ideas on their merits.  Posting under your main account is irresponsible.

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