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Author Topic: Dark wallets and Corruption  (Read 1371 times)
jytou
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May 09, 2014, 05:21:30 PM
 #1

Hi all,
I know this is a highly controversial subject, but I see more and more "buzz" around "dark wallets" and such. Even without them, it is already possible for a clever bitcoin user to gain a very high level of privacy, but they take it to the next level and bring it to the public. And yet, is this what we (the people down here) really want? Isn't this massively helping corruption and the financial elite, while giving us just a little comfort? (and an extra way of cheating at all levels) I understand that most people here value privacy very much, but I hope you understand that this is going to be "the privacy of the corrupt elite, while you little ants will still be somehow traceable by the NSA and such".

So the main issue/question is: how do we want this to be highly anonymous, yet crack down corruption at all levels?

Wouldn't be more simple if <any>coin would be completely transparent (e.g. a public blockchain and each address can be publicly tracked back to an individual or organization)? I know, most of you fear that <someone> will discover that you did <this> because everything is now being exposed to the public. I know this poses a problem for activists in countries where they are severely tracked and cracked down. So I somehow agree that "dark wallets" have an immediate (and targeted) use. But what about the future? Do we want a future where everything is dark? We know where that leads to and to whom it really benefits. Although I see the current benefit of dark wallets, I wouldn't want a future where they shape the global way of life.

Sorry if I have missed something (there is so much to read out there that I couldn't possibly read the whole internet - please lead me to the articles I missed) and please argue with courtesy.
And never forget the big picture of my post: corruption loves darkness and hates light. And please prove me wrong, or at least that there are ways to put the "big fishes" under the spotlight while maintaining real privacy for legitimate use by the general public.
For instance, <MR.X> has zillions of <any>coins and has millions of addresses so that nobody sees how rich he is. And of course held in a dark wallet that shuffles all the flood of his (big) money around so that nobody notices these addresses all belong to a single individual, funding his drugs/arms/dark traffic.

Again I would like this to be a calm, constructive and objective debate, I'm a big bitcoin and tor advocate, but the latest "dark" buzzes really rang like warning bells in my ears.

In shorter other words "do we really want to make coins darker for everyone, or should we rather force everyone to use them in the light?"
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May 09, 2014, 05:34:58 PM
 #2

For instance, <MR.X> has zillions of <any>coins and has millions of addresses so that nobody sees how rich he is. And of course held in a dark wallet that shuffles all the flood of his (big) money around so that nobody notices these addresses all belong to a single individual, funding his drugs/arms/dark traffic.

And what's wrong with that?

"There is only one thing that is seriously morally wrong with the world, and that is politics. By 'politics' I mean all that, and only what, involves the State." Jan Lester "Escape from Leviathan"
jytou
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May 09, 2014, 05:53:00 PM
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For instance, <MR.X> has zillions of <any>coins and has millions of addresses so that nobody sees how rich he is. And of course held in a dark wallet that shuffles all the flood of his (big) money around so that nobody notices these addresses all belong to a single individual, funding his drugs/arms/dark traffic.
And what's wrong with that?
What is wrong is that you can't track him down. And that he will go on doing his dirty business out of public scrutiny. Basically, it is a wide open gate to all corruption to happen in front of your very nose, without you being able to pinpoint where it is. We're just giving them Swiss banks as they used to be (and strangely enough, just at the time when transparency just starts to somehow emerge in the financial world). Wink
beatljuice
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May 09, 2014, 05:56:05 PM
 #4

Anarchy makes an assumption: People are basically good - so laws (or enforced surveillance) do very little to make the world a better place. In my opinion laws often amplify the "bad" because the people with less than good motives are able to acquire power more easily by becoming part of the system.

The argument about governments and organizations having transparency means that they can have it, and may be required to have it if they want to continue to get support, but transparency shouldn't be enforced. If I have the choice between giving my money to a charity that has transparency on the blockchain or one that doesn't, guess which one I will choose.

As governments and other large organizations loose power through decentralization they will need to become more transparent to get the support (votes/money) that they need, but there will always be hidden things, in government, and with individuals. Privacy allows individuals to have their own sovereignty.

I completely support marriage rights for every adult, but it made me a little sick when Brendan Eic was pressured by the public out of his position as CEO of Mozilla because of a donation he made. To bad he didn't use DarkWallet.
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May 09, 2014, 05:57:53 PM
 #5

We're just giving them Swiss banks as they used to be (and strangely enough, just at the time when transparency loss of privacy and increased risk of confiscation just starts to somehow emerge in the financial world). Wink

Strange indeed; it's almost like there's a genuine demand for financial privacy and money that can't be easily confiscated.  

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May 09, 2014, 06:06:14 PM
 #6

Corruption,  laundering and anonymity using the U.S. Dollar is is like 1 million times prevalent than with Bitcoin.  

What's funny are the banks & keystone cops are trying to crack down on Local Bitcoin traders and overlooking what's happening right  in front of their faces with USD.

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jytou
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May 09, 2014, 06:27:03 PM
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What's funny are the banks & keystone cops are trying to crack down on Local Bitcoin traders and overlooking what's happening right  in front of their faces with USD.
That is exactly what I'm saying. Thanks to darkness, the ones with power can chase whoever they want. If everything was done in full light, they wouldn't stand a chance because public opinion would force them to act otherwise.

Quote
Anarchy makes an assumption: People are basically good
That I'm still not convinced of. As long as there are corners to hide, people will do evil, and the more corners you offer, the more they will take advantage of them. But you can't do evil publicly without being lynched (he tried it). Where I do understand that there is still some ongoing effort to be done is that the definition of what "evil" is is definitely not a shared consensus (thus your example about Brendan Eich). Smiley

About organizations/governments needing transparency, that's where the line is difficult to mark: where does privacy stop the transparency? There have been cases (I think about corruption in schools' admissions in Thailand for instance) where privacy of individuals has blocked transparency at organizational levels. And with dark wallets, how do we achieve this transparency? Via external registers to document the transactions going in/out of certain wallets? How are we sure that these are genuine? I can agree that today's world is probably not ready for full transparency, but I wouldn't trade it for full opacity, and at least I would like to have some answers about how we can deal with transparency at least at organizational levels. It seems to me quite a challenge with dark wallets.
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May 09, 2014, 06:29:46 PM
 #8

For instance, <MR.X> has zillions of <any>coins and has millions of addresses so that nobody sees how rich he is. And of course held in a dark wallet that shuffles all the flood of his (big) money around so that nobody notices these addresses all belong to a single individual, funding his drugs/arms/dark traffic.
And what's wrong with that?
What is wrong is that you can't track him down. And that he will go on doing his dirty business out of public scrutiny. Basically, it is a wide open gate to all corruption to happen in front of your very nose, without you being able to pinpoint where it is. We're just giving them Swiss banks as they used to be (and strangely enough, just at the time when transparency just starts to somehow emerge in the financial world). Wink

I don't want "you" tracking me down (regardless of who "you" might be). I want to be free to interact with other people without "you" spying on me and having the power to use that information against me.

I don't want your twisted concept of transparency. Transparency may provide a benefit to some, but at a cost to everyone. It's scope must be severely limited. When a person or organization is granted the power to control aspects of your life, transparency can be an effective method of ensuring that the power is not abused. I have not been granted such power, so such transparency is not appropriate in my case.

In short, I don't think that there exists a good enough reason to give you power over me or even to burden me with the responsibility of mollifying your paranoid delusions.

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beatljuice
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May 09, 2014, 06:51:17 PM
 #9

My point is that power over others corrupts. With privacy, less power is given to a few elite individuals. So, yes it will be easier for an individual to do bad things in a private world. But it will be much harder for a small number of people to have power over, and do harm to, large numbers of others.

For the sake of argument let's say 10% of people are "bad" and 90% of people are "good." (Obviously this is just for example purposes and everyone has some good and some bad tendencies.)

With privacy and decentralization that 10% can only do maybe 20% of the good people harm. With power given to a few (still with the 10/90 split) the one out of ten "bad" people can inflict harm on nearly everyone. The reason that a few people have a bajillion dollars to hide is because we gave them the power to take it. Without that power they would have a lot less.
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May 09, 2014, 07:06:27 PM
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My point is that power over others corrupts. With privacy, less power is given to a few elite individuals. So, yes it will be easier for an individual to do bad things in a private world. But it will be much harder for a small number of people to have power over, and do harm to, large numbers of others.

For the sake of argument let's say 10% of people are "bad" and 90% of people are "good." (Obviously this is just for example purposes and everyone has some good and some bad tendencies.)

With privacy and decentralization that 10% can only do maybe 20% of the good people harm. With power given to a few (still with the 10/90 split) the one out of ten "bad" people can inflict harm on nearly everyone. The reason that a few people have a bajillion dollars to hide is because we gave them the power to take it. Without that power they would have a lot less.
Well said.

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jytou
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May 09, 2014, 07:07:46 PM
 #11

So - from what I'm reading here, the plan is "let's release dark wallets, have our holy privacy to exchange coins with mycheatingsexsite.com, myklukluxklan.org, myheavydrugsite.net with no one knowing (especially not your spouse, your employer and the government), and help the 1% richest people in the world become richer by making the poor poorer and corrupt more and more people/organization/governments with absolutely no chance to track them down". Did I get it right? Smiley Or is there any plan to limit the second part whatsoever?
(I know I'm presenting things from an extreme angle here, but you get the point)
jytou
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May 09, 2014, 07:10:08 PM
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Oh and in my transparency understanding, the power is not given to a few. It is given to everyone. But I understand not everyone agrees that a country would be safer if everyone had a gun.  Grin
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May 09, 2014, 07:13:31 PM
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So - from what I'm reading here, the plan is "let's release dark wallets, have our holy privacy to exchange coins with mycheatingsexsite.com, myklukluxklan.org, myheavydrugsite.net with no one knowing (especially not your spouse, your employer and the government), and help the 1% richest people in the world become richer by making the poor poorer and corrupt more and more people/organization/governments with absolutely no chance to track them down". Did I get it right? Smiley Or is there any plan to limit the second part whatsoever?
(I know I'm presenting things from an extreme angle here, but you get the point)
Privacy allows innovation. The rich stay richer by keeping the innovators down i.e. Tesla. Brains are the most valuable resource we have and keeping our thoughts private insures that power remains egalitarian.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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May 09, 2014, 07:22:43 PM
 #14

So - from what I'm reading here, the plan is "let's release dark wallets, have our holy privacy to exchange coins with mycheatingsexsite.com, myklukluxklan.org, myheavydrugsite.net with no one knowing (especially not your spouse, your employer and the government), and help the 1% richest people in the world become richer by making the poor poorer and corrupt more and more people/organization/governments with absolutely no chance to track them down". Did I get it right? Smiley Or is there any plan to limit the second part whatsoever?
(I know I'm presenting things from an extreme angle here, but you get the point)

This is why "dark wallet" is a controversial name; the wallet simply employs coinjoin transactions for improved privacy protection.  

Debates about drugs and monogamy aside, bitcoin is a useful way to store, transport and exchange value.  Because it is useful, it is useful both for good and for bad.  If you make it less useful for what you perceive as bad, it will become less useful for good too.  

Take kitchen knives for example: they are useful for cutting meat and vegetables, but they are also useful for killing people.  Research1 shows that cooks tend to use a "slicing motion" taking advantage of the entire length of the blade, whereas most murderers tend to use a "stabbing motion" taking advantage of the knife's sharp point.  

To keep cooks happy and to appease people worried about being stabbed, we could pass a law that knives can be sharp on the edge, but the pointed tip must be rounded to prevent stabbing.  

Of course the end result would be a less useful knife to cooks yet murders would just kill people by slicing their throats rather than stabbing them in the chest.

[My apologies for the graphic nature of my examples]

1I made this up and I have no idea if knife murders prefer stabbing or slicing.

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beatljuice
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May 09, 2014, 07:40:53 PM
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Oh and in my transparency understanding, the power is not given to a few. It is given to everyone. But I understand not everyone agrees that a country would be safer if everyone had a gun.  Grin

Well the power was given to everyone in the case of Brendan Eic and look what happened. Basically his free speech was hindered by a minority (though possibly a majority of Mozilla users). Thought police are a bad thing. As long as he did a good job for Mozilla he should be able to keep that job.

My wife has more power over me than others do partially because she knows most of my secrets. But she has earned that trust (power) by defending me when I deserve it and calling me on my shit when that needs to be done. And while she may not always do things the exact right way, I can see what she meant to do and that she has my, and others, best interests in mind when taking action. She has proven to me that she is "good" therefore I trust her with many secrets. She has also been similarly transparent with me, thus I have some power over her.

With forced surveillance the power is taken from me to decide who to trust. What if your spouse were given a mandate by the government to keep a diary of everything you did? Would you trust him/her with as many secrets? The sun gives a huge amount of light, but it also creates the biggest shadows. Sometimes a flashlight is the best way to "bring things to light."
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May 09, 2014, 08:17:34 PM
 #16

I don't know if this thread   https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=475574.0     will be of any interest to you.

I'm now of the opinion that Bitcoin will only survive if transactions are anonymous.

Is it worth Bitcoin surviving ?  On balance, I believe emphatically YES

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May 09, 2014, 09:16:36 PM
 #17

So - from what I'm reading here, the plan is "let's release dark wallets, have our holy privacy to exchange coins with mycheatingsexsite.com, myklukluxklan.org, myheavydrugsite.net with no one knowing (especially not your spouse, your employer and the government)...

Exactly, free speech must be protected all all costs especially for what you abhor. mycheatingsexsite.com should be protected because people shouldn't be treated as property and owned by someone else, myklukluxklan.org should be protected because we need a diversity of ideas, including the dumbest ones, to be free of thought crime, myheavydrugsite.net is important because they provide a legitimate service that should be legal.

... and help the 1% richest people in the world become richer by making the poor poorer and corrupt more and more people/organization/governments with absolutely no chance to track them down". Did I get it right? Smiley Or is there any plan to limit the second part whatsoever?

You have it backwards. With bitcoin you can have privacy for individuals and transparency for non-profits and corps. Stealth addresses can be identified and you can simply not choose to donate to them if you want to deal with a transparent government, nonprofit, or business. There is a long list of reasons why you need privacy(wikileaks, dissident in oppressive government, ect...). The belief that you have nothing to hide because you are doing nothing wrong is bullshit because most people commit multiple felonies daily. http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx

Your logic is flawed because it assumes that corruption and crime doesn't flourish in the "light". Sure there will always be bad actors, con artists using bitcoin and wallets like the dark wallet to defraud people but psychopaths will always be drawn to real sources of power and those are found in centralized finance, publicly traded companies with a team of lawyers and lobbyists, and governments.

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May 10, 2014, 12:20:36 AM
 #18

With forced surveillance the power is taken from me to decide who to trust. What if your spouse were given a mandate by the government to keep a diary of everything you did?
In an obscure world, maybe she already does, how would I know? Smiley

Thanks @practicaldreamer for the thread link: it gave some interesting views.

I very well understand from all your posts that we do need privacy since our governments/laws are biased, and I'm fully aware of what privacy invasion from governments is like. For sure I'm not advocating full transparency in the current state of the world, it would need to evolve with time (and mentalities), and that could of course take a long time. And note that the examples I took are plainly stereotypical, not necessarily my personal taste. Smiley It seems to me that most of you prefer to protect your privacy rather than change flawed laws and behaviors. I may be mistaken, though.

But for now and the coming years I still don't have an answer to that question: are dark wallets clearly a weapon of choice for corruption? The answer is yes so far as everyone seems to elude the question. And it tastes quite bitter. You're all saying "well don't give your money to this or that org/gov if you fear they are not transparent enough". How will I know? I won't since nothing will be public. Their bitcoin address will be public? And then what? They will still appear to be as clean as snow because they will have the tools to shuffle the coins around, while corrupting and laundrying under the table, business as usual. I just gave them the ultimate weapon to grab more power while they will still be able to scrutinize my private life (we barely see the tip of the iceberg of what the NSA is already doing, I doubt very much that dark wallet will effectively stop them from spying on us in an uncontrolled way since it is done in secrecy). And as some people mentioned here we are again giving the power (knowledge) to a few, thus crippling ourselves in the name of privacy.

As for 3 felonies a day, sorry but I don't commit these examples daily, even not yearly, the title looks more like journalistic sensationalism than reality. And again, if everything was going public, the laws would need to be changed as well (shouldn't most of these already change in our current world?... but with more opacity of course governments have very nice arguments to keep these laws or even enforce them more).
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May 10, 2014, 01:13:56 AM
 #19

Privacy is not evil.

Why do toilets in public places not just have everyone sat looking at each other as they defecate? Privacy. "But people could be doing anything behind that stall door! Drugs! Sex! Terrorism!". And people do use stalls for questionable things other than taking a shit. But privacy wins, all the same.

Same for financial privacy. People have perfectly sound reasons for hiding their financial details from a miserly boss, their gold digger spouse, grasping grandkids, or a nosy landlord. Doesn't break any ethical or legal codes (at least for me, anyway). And people already use the present system just like that. Maybe bank accounts are becoming used less like that in the 2010's, but there's still plenty of ways left to hold and transfer assets in a private way, without the need for bitcoin or cryptocurrency at all.

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May 10, 2014, 01:15:06 AM
 #20

It seems to me that most of you prefer to protect your privacy rather than change flawed laws and behaviors. I may be mistaken, though.

The legal system is so thoroughly corrupted, convoluted and duplicitous there isn't much point in trying to improve it within the corrupt framework. You have to step outside of the corrupt paradigm and bitcoin allows you to do so. I don't want to modify peoples behaviors but merely to live in peace and solidarity with a honest an dignified life without being coerced into paying for unethical and harmful behavior.

are dark wallets clearly a weapon of choice for corruption?

Dark wallets can be used for moral or immoral actions. What makes bitcoin and darkwallet different is that it empowers everyone far more equally than the traditional financial framework. You have the power to not be forced at gunpoint and threatened with rape filled kidnapping if you don't agree with a certain policy whether it be war or anything else.

The better weapon of corruption is not bitcoin but one that is backed up by the force of law and violence of the state and not some voluntary transaction between consenting adults on a dark market.

They will still appear to be as clean as snow because they will have the tools to shuffle the coins around, while corrupting and laundrying under the table, business as usual.

You don't understand. Stealth addresses are easily identifiable by looking at the starting prefix. Additionally, non-profits or businesses would be held accountable just like they are now with audits and oversight. In fact with bitcoin you can do so more easily with multi-sig and verifiable merkle-trees. A non profit could have a public wallet where users can see in realtime update with their donations a that needs a 3 of 5 or any number of board members approval before spending the coins.

And as some people mentioned here we are again giving the power (knowledge) to a few, thus crippling ourselves in the name of privacy.

Like the internet you don't need to know the protocol or code to click on the buttons with the dark wallet.

And again, if everything was going public, the laws would need to be changed as well

There are multiple ways of changing laws... One way is to vote, be fortunate enough to be in the majority, and hope your elected representatives will follow through on their promises(How's that working out for the Nobel prize committee? They couldn't even bribe him into peace.), than hope that the legislation is actually enforced in the manner designed.

Another way to change laws is to make them obsolete due to a change in the ethical landscape or by making the price of enforcement so high that the laws become merely writing on paper. This is what Bitcoin does to money and legal contracts, physibles do to patent laws, Torrents do to IP laws.

As for 3 felonies a day, sorry but I don't commit these examples daily, even not yearly...

Those were merely examples, there are so many ambiguous laws on the books there are really are hundreds of thousands of examples where you could be charged with a felony at any moment if you upset the wrong person. People are charged all the time felonies for doing something as benign as filming in public under wiretapping laws. Yes, the supreme court recently has clarified that this is legal but that still doesn't stop police from attacking you, kidnapping you, deleting the evidence, to later release you.



 



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