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Author Topic: Anonymity  (Read 50876 times)
NewLibertyStandard
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August 16, 2010, 10:47:31 PM
 #41

Sending payments to fake addresses provides a way to broadcast short encoded and optionally encrypted unalterable messages to the world anonymously. Have security codes for the organization committing genocide, but scared you'll be killed if the publisher accidentally reveals your identity? Shocked Publish them with Bitcoin. Cool

It would be just terrible if people realized there was a way to post messages to the internet.  Roll Eyes
Bitcoin is much harder to crash than your average web server. Bitcoin is harder to manipulate than your average decentralized message board.

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RHorning
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August 17, 2010, 12:10:34 AM
 #42

Sending payments to fake addresses provides a way to broadcast short encoded and optionally encrypted unalterable messages to the world anonymously. Have security codes for the organization committing genocide, but scared you'll be killed if the publisher accidentally reveals your identity? Shocked Publish them with Bitcoin. Cool

That is an interesting application of Bitcoins that I hadn't thought of.  Sending 0.0000001 BTC to some "trigger" address to detonate some weapon or to trigger a bot/virus to send a simple (even "complex") message when the value is received.  I could think of several "covert" applications to something of that nature, and it would be difficult to trace the origin of that transmission too.

Other peer-to-peer networks could work along a similar approach, but the current organization of Bitcoins assures that everybody in the entire network is aware of the transaction in a relatively short period of time (usually just an hour or less) and even temporarily split off sections of the network will eventually get the message out.

I've heard about this being done in the financial industry where somebody will send out an ask/bid order for stocks or mutual funds that is far outside of normal trading boundaries as a means to transmit a message in some fashion (aka bidding $5 for Berkshire Hathaway Class "A" stock).  I'm sure other examples could be given but it is something that has already been discussed in other forums and even has fiction written about it.  Tom Clancy wrote about it in terms of a trigger event for a melt-down of Wall Street in one of his novels.

It is the persistence that nodes have for transmitting transactions to each other that would be beneficial here.  If anything, this is a consequence of becoming more anonymous in terms of the transactions.

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August 17, 2010, 01:03:09 AM
 #43

Sending payments to fake addresses provides a way to broadcast short encoded and optionally encrypted unalterable messages to the world anonymously. Have security codes for the organization committing genocide, but scared you'll be killed if the publisher accidentally reveals your identity? Shocked Publish them with Bitcoin. Cool

That is an interesting application of Bitcoins that I hadn't thought of.  Sending 0.0000001 BTC to some "trigger" address to detonate some weapon or to trigger a bot/virus to send a simple (even "complex") message when the value is received.  I could think of several "covert" applications to something of that nature, and it would be difficult to trace the origin of that transmission too.

Not really any different from the classified ad.
ichi
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August 17, 2010, 05:41:21 AM
 #44

From the "Anonymity" article on the wiki:
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Sending coins to a different computer under your control will give you some plausible deniability. However, an investigator is still likely to find you and demand to know who you sent the coins to. If they search your stuff, they'll probably find your other computer. If the attacker is not law enforcement (or maybe even if they are), they might kill you “just in case”. If you use this method, send bitcoins in small increments (no more than 50 BTC, but as small as you're willing to use) to avoid combining coins, which reduces anonymity.
Determining my true identity would be nontrivial.  Even XeroBank doesn't know who owns the email address posted in my profile.  If y'all complained enough about me, they'd nuke the account, but they still wouldn't know who I am.  Indeed, I'd still be paying for the account, even though it no longer existed.  Google "VAULTS".  Of course, they may be lying about all that  Wink

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Also:
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Tor prevents network analysis and should be used, but it won't help make your Bitcoin balance “clean” The attacker isn't talking to you over the Internet; they're looking at your changes to the block  chain. This is similar to posting a threat and your street address on a message board using Tor – Tor doesn't stop the police from finding you.
How would they find me?  What's the equivalent of my street address?  Is it just the network of clients that I've done transfers with?  What if none of them know who I am?  Am I missing something?
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August 17, 2010, 11:03:01 PM
 #45

Not really any different from the classified ad.

Yes, you could do this with something on Craig's List too.  Some of it would depend upon the triggering mechanism and how light-weight you would need the software stack, and to make sure you aren't tipping off somebody looking for messages of that nature that just seem a little bit odd.  A coin transfer would be harder to spot as something a little bit off and I think you might be able to create a lightweight version of Bitcoins that could be smaller than an http scanner to act as a trigger.

Anyway, for those who are into terrorist activities, I'm sure you can come up with dozens of ways to accomplish that kind of mechanism.  Perhaps some day I'll set up something that will release my blueprints to the Area 51 facility that will be untraceable.

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August 17, 2010, 11:20:49 PM
 #46

Sending payments to fake addresses provides a way to broadcast short encoded and optionally encrypted unalterable messages to the world anonymously. Have security codes for the organization committing genocide, but scared you'll be killed if the publisher accidentally reveals your identity? Shocked Publish them with Bitcoin. Cool

Why would the addresses need to be fake?  It is a good way to inexpensively referrence a purchase online.  Say, for example, that you wish to order something from an automated commerce website that costs 205.53 bitcoins.  There is still six digits of the bitcoin that can be used to imprint an order number.  Say the order number is 633729, the total cost of the order would look like 205.53633729 bitcoin on the blockchain.  Granted, the commerce site could issue a new address for every order, but what if they had some reason not to do that.  What if each unique customer had an address assigned to them, but the ecommerce site desired to positively identify each of that person's orders from one another without requiring some kind of additional message parameters that bitcoin does not support, and even if it did, would provide TMI about the transaction.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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August 18, 2010, 01:34:25 AM
 #47

Quote from: ichi
How would they find me?  What's the equivalent of my street address?  Is it just the network of clients that I've done transfers with?  What if none of them know who I am?  Am I missing something?

The history of your coins is your "street address". Anyone who knows any of your addresses can see all past and future transactions for coins gotten with that address, even if those coins are (or have been) transferred to different addresses.

You're safe if none of your addresses are used to receive coins from people who know who you are and you never send coins to people who know who you are.

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ichi
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August 18, 2010, 03:20:16 AM
 #48

You're safe if none of your addresses are used to receive coins from people who know who you are and you never send coins to people who know who you are.
Good.  Thank you.  I was never intending to do either.  I'm intending to use Bitcoin only where anonymity is one of the goals.
RHorning
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August 18, 2010, 04:58:55 PM
 #49

You're safe if none of your addresses are used to receive coins from people who know who you are and you never send coins to people who know who you are.
Good.  Thank you.  I was never intending to do either.  I'm intending to use Bitcoin only where anonymity is one of the goals.

I'm sort of the opposite.  I don't really need or depend upon the anonymity aspect of Bitcoins, but the fact that it is there is something that I don't mind and can serve a useful purpose from time to time.  There is value in Bitcoins for me even if anonymity were completely compromised, and would be fine with identity being merely difficult to trace rather than impossible.  I also know that isn't necessarily the attitude of everybody, and on the whole if there is something that can improve the identity security of users of this software, I'm completely supportive of the idea.

Put me mostly in the pragmatic camp here if it can be said.

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August 18, 2010, 06:18:36 PM
 #50

You're safe if none of your addresses are used to receive coins from people who know who you are and you never send coins to people who know who you are.
Good.  Thank you.  I was never intending to do either.  I'm intending to use Bitcoin only where anonymity is one of the goals.

I'm sort of the opposite.  I don't really need or depend upon the anonymity aspect of Bitcoins, but the fact that it is there is something that I don't mind and can serve a useful purpose from time to time.  There is value in Bitcoins for me even if anonymity were completely compromised, and would be fine with identity being merely difficult to trace rather than impossible.  I also know that isn't necessarily the attitude of everybody, and on the whole if there is something that can improve the identity security of users of this software, I'm completely supportive of the idea.

Put me mostly in the pragmatic camp here if it can be said.



I suppose that I am in your pragmatic camp as well, as I do not really require the anonymity of bitcoins, yet I can also see the value to others (and therefore to myself).

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
EconomyBuilder
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August 21, 2010, 08:56:19 AM
 #51

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"You're safe if none of your addresses are used to receive coins from people who know who you are and you never send coins to people who know who you are."

(1) How am I supposed to know who "knows" me and who doesn't?   Strangers to me often have all sorts of information about me in their databases, even if I have never heard of them before.

(2) A sufficiently unique and detailed set of transactions can be sufficient to uniquely identify you, like a fingerprint.

Any anonymity in this system is very weak and won't withstand any vigorous investigation effort by competent technical investigators.  It bears no resemblance to the strong anonymity available with, for example, David Chaum's digital cash and various relatives of that blind-signature scheme.     It is in no sense secure in the same kind of way the hash chain or other cryptographic properties of the system are secure.   Of course the Chaumian ecash systems don't have the decentralized trust in terms of transaction clearing that this system has.   So there's you're tradeoff, better currency security but no strong anonymity.   It's probably reasonable to give up anonymity for better currency security if one has to make that tradeoff, but let's not throw around the description "anonymous" as if Bitcoin securely has that property, it does not.

Now somebody could develop a system to issue securely anonymous digital bank notes, and use bitcoins as the reserve currency for the issuing bank(s), thus achieving both strong anonymity and currency security greater than fiat or government-currency-backed anonymous cash.   One could audit the bank reserves by looking at its publicly signed bitcoin chains (taking advantage of the *lack* of anonymity in Bitcoin).   This strikes me as a pretty nice combination, but it would require some additional software and services currently lacking.
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August 21, 2010, 09:36:26 AM
 #52

@EconomyBuilder

No offense, and are you sure about that?  Even from a nontechnical perspective, having a fully-public transaction history is troubling, to say the least.

Although every $20 bill that I've used has my DNA on it (except perhaps for the ones I've digested with hog pancreatic DNase) and every $20 bill has cocaine on it, there's arguably no persuasive evidence that I'm using cocaine.  Right?  Couldn't Bitcoins be randomized just as $20 bills are?  For example, could something like this scheme provide anonymity?
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August 21, 2010, 10:11:11 AM
 #53

When I say that someone doesn't know who you are, I mean that you're talking to them through Tor with a disposable identity and not giving them any information about yourself. They have to defeat Tor in order to identify you.

An incredibly powerful attacker might be able to group addresses that ordinarily couldn't be grouped, but they don't gain anything from this when all of your addresses were used safely. Even if an attacker can find every address in your wallet and they can talk to all of the people you transacted with using those addresses, they can't identify you because you were talking to all of these people through Tor.

This is an unusual case. I doubt ichi is actually doing this. Most people will need to acquire Bitcoins non-anonymously, put them into a separate balance, mix them (as I've described in this thread), and then send them to people who they deal with through Tor.

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August 21, 2010, 10:30:09 AM
 #54

No offense, and are you sure about that?  Even from a nontechnical perspective, having a fully-public transaction history is troubling, to say the least.

The full transaction history of every transaction everybody makes is available. (If that is what you were questioning.)
What do you think is in the block chain?
The Anonymity comes from not knowing who 'owns' a particular Bitcoin Address.
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August 21, 2010, 10:36:45 AM
 #55

No offense, and are you sure about that?  Even from a nontechnical perspective, having a fully-public transaction history is troubling, to say the least.

The full transaction history of every transaction everybody makes is available. (If that is what you were questioning.)
What do you think is in the block chain?
The Anonymity comes from not knowing who 'owns' a particular Bitcoin Address.
Well, I was feeling OK about that, until EconomyBuilder's post  Undecided
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September 14, 2010, 11:51:16 PM
 #56

I haven't read this entire thread, but if we are concerned about the directed graph of transactions (represented by the block chain) being visible for a long time, then what about using self-destructing data for the block chains that will expire and erase themselves after a specified time (such as a couple hours) or after a certain number of nodes have confirmed the transaction?  For example, I stumbled upon this scheme called Vanish - Self-destructing digital data which uses on-line distributed hash tables to store and gradually degrade the encrypted data and key over time?  So basically have older block chains automatically vanish after a certain time -that way transactions could be verified in the short time span, but would be destroyed in the long time span...thus preventing the authorities or whoever you are worried about from reconstructing the block-chain and use that directed graph to determine your identity. 

Anyway, I'm just brainstorming here, not giving any solutions Wink, and I don't totally understand the internal workings of bitcoin either Sad, but maybe someone out here in the forums is clever enough to figure out some scheme using self-destructing data to protect anonymity.

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Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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September 14, 2010, 11:59:58 PM
 #57

I haven't read this entire thread, but if we are concerned about the directed graph of transactions (represented by the block chain) being visible for a long time, then what about using self-destructing data for the block chains that will expire and erase themselves after a specified time (such as a couple hours) or after a certain number of nodes have confirmed the transaction?  For example, I stumbled upon this scheme called Vanish - Self-destructing digital data which uses on-line distributed hash tables to store and gradually degrade the encrypted data and key over time?  So basically have older block chains automatically vanish after a certain time -that way transactions could be verified in the short time span, but would be destroyed in the long time span...thus preventing the authorities or whoever you are worried about from reconstructing the block-chain and use that directed graph to determine your identity. 

Anyway, I'm just brainstorming here, not giving any solutions Wink, and I don't totally understand the internal workings of bitcoin either Sad, but maybe someone out here in the forums is clever enough to figure out some scheme using self-destructing data to protect anonymity.

Bitcoin is designed with the ability to forget old transactions as you describe, just it isn't implemented yet. Its only intended to save disk space and maybe some bandwidth though I believe.

It could help mask coin tracks from someone new to bitcoin but if they are monitoring the net they are not obligated to erase old transactions. They could build up historical records if they want.
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September 15, 2010, 02:00:19 PM
 #58

Hey all,

Something just occurred to me... using mybitcoin's new bitcoin payment forwarding couldn't someone just bounce their coins in and out of mybitcoin automatically and use it as a free bitlaundry-like service? Could you not rotate to+forwarding addresses to pull it off?

I should really spend more time looking at how the underlying database is structured in bitcoin. Tongue

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September 16, 2010, 07:48:37 AM
 #59

Added anonymity, but not recommended due to loss of transaction data vulnerability:

- If the Bitcoin block can be fractionalized amongst active nodes (nodes gracefully exiting the network to allow for data passing) with plenty of backup data overlapping amongst the nodes - but no one node knows the full block chain, it will also increase anonymity.  But this may cause vulneribility in the system database in case of node failure - this route is not recommended.  If a majority of nodes in one geographic location holds the only copy of a particular section of the database, and that geographic area suffers a catastrophe, it might wipe out some/all Bitcoin wealth completely.
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September 17, 2010, 05:30:11 AM
 #60

Whatever mechanism is chosen, it had better not significantly slow down the network or client unless strong anonymity is required/requested.

I've tried I2P and Tor, and, for me, super-strong privacy isn't worth the performance cost.

This is such a good point. People want the anonymity to trade files but they don't want to pay the performance costs of anonymous networks. The problem is in implementing a trust system based on anonymous peers, when there is no anonymous way to pay for resources.

This is the main reason why I wrote Open Transactions: because providing an untraceable form of cash makes it possible to solve issues of resource allocation on anonymous networks.  If download requests are accompanied by digital postage, college kids will start leaving their computers on all day to collect that postage while anonymous downloads occur through their computing resources. Then when they get home from class, the digital postage that has accrued covers the cost of their own downloads. Effectively, people won't have to contribute cash at all, as long as they are contributing computing resources.

Then anonymous networks can run fast. As a bonus, people can also send each other anonymous digital cash payments on these networks -- and information markets and prediction markets can start popping up.

Bitcoins are difficult to counterfeit because they require "work" aka "computing resources" in order to produce them. SURELY THESE SORTS OF COMPUTING RESOURCES that I have described above, which provide real value to people in the form of fast, anonymous downloads, have some real and measurable monetary value as well? Not only do they require computers to work, but they also provide real value to people on a market where other things are traded.
 

co-founder, Monetas
creator, Open-Transactions
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