Privacy Is Paramount: How KYC Makes Us All Less Free
KYC (Know Your Customer) policies and endless private data collection, coupled with force-backed, violent legislation compromise the utility and ethics of crypto trading. An uncompromising stance on user privacy is critically important to crypto traders and peer-to-peer transaction. It’s not about having nothing to hide, but about sound economics, human dignity, and creating a more peaceful, less violent, world.
Making Bathroom Breaks Illegal
“If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide!” The oft-repeated trope is familiar to all, but really what lies behind it? It’s clear when I am using the bathroom, alone in my room writing, or just taking a breather to escape the madness of a particularly stressful day, that I have nothing to “hide” as such. I’ve done nothing wrong. And yet, privacy remains paramount to me. Force someone to surrender the precious stuff, and see how long they remain healthy. It won’t be long until they are resisting – breaking down emotionally, physically, and mentally. Privacy is a treasure trove where creation happens. Regeneration. And most importantly, it’s a basic and non-negotiable prerequisite to human dignity, anywhere and everywhere in the world.
With the advent of Bitcoin in 2009, new economic applications of privacy were made possible. Fed up with the coercive monetary status quo, Satoshi Nakamoto released a financial protocol enabling free and autonomous trade without a middleman or centralized authority overseeing people’s private business. Over 10 years later, the idea is now being pursued hotly by massive state-approved railroading campaigns. Centralized, pro-government exchanges seem to have missed the memo on sound econ and privacy. They don’t wish to let you trade without knowing nearly every damn thing about you, first. For all its perceived “security,” this approach denies the real utility and value of blockchain technology, and does so in breathtakingly draconian, Keynesian fashion.
Money of the Future: Internet 2.0
If you’ll suffer me a bit of personal reflection here. I’ll take you in my time machine to 2016, Tokyo. I was in the Roppongi district, heading to a small bar in the afternoon to make my second ever crypto-to-fiat transaction. I was newly jobless, and had been blogging on a blockchain-based social media site to scrape up some money in the interim. My wife wasn’t sure about all of this “crypto stuff” and was of course distraught about our financial situation. I had used the Bitcoin ATM at this place once before, so I swapped my STEEM for BTC, got on the train, and hit up the interesting little machine again, in the shadowy corner of the bar. I had avoided utilizing large exchanges up to this point for privacy reasons. The transaction was easy. I stuffed the money in an envelope and went home. Wife satisfied. Me, still alive to blog another day while I searched for a new “normie” job as a teacher. Without the ease and simplicity of exchange that day, I would not have been able to support myself and my family during a very difficult time, without jumping through all kinds of privacy-invasive hoops and long, unacceptable delays. A big win for crypto, the free market, and privacy.
Whoosh! Fast forward to the present day. Take a walk around any of the major wards in Tokyo, and you’ll no longer find many easy-to-use crypto ATMs. What you will find are giant billboards loudly plastered with greasy celebrities, advertising huge, state-regulated, privacy-compromising exchanges. What you will find is that most of the easy-to-use, privately owned ATMs have been ripped out, shut down, or discontinued. Why? Newly enacted coercive legislation, bureaucratic red tape, and licensing fees in Japan.
People like me, who rely on economic autonomy and the utility of crypto to exchange value for value are squeezed into an even tighter corner, it would seem. This trend is not endemic to Japan, either. From people being arrested for trading in Michigan, to localbitcoins.com recently shutting down cash trades, to insane and nearly-impossible-to-follow tax legislation on crypto all over the world, or the outright outlawing of various tokens and trading protocols, the agenda is clear: take the privacy, simplicity, and human dignity out of crypto, and with it, its whole utility and its capability to set people free and create a more private, peaceful world.
Free Trade Is a Choice
This dystopian world, devoid of digital privacy, may sound dark, but in my view that only makes the light of free trade shine brighter and bigger. The truth is, nothing can take away the utility of crypto. It’s a technology. Not a philosophy, not a “spiritual movement,” and not politics. Algorithms, mathematical formulas, blockchains and hashes don’t care who you are. Whether you’re president or peasant, or anything in between, crypto sees you just as the free market does—a trader wishing to exchange value for value. Nothing more. Nothing less. There is one magnificently critical “catch,” though: nothing can take away the utility of crypto, except the choice to not use it freely. Revolutionary fintech only retains utility for free market transactions (and this should go without saying) should we choose to use it freely. Regardless of risk or perceived lack thereof, the market isn’t going to “free market” for me. The tech isn’t going to trade for me. That’s on me, and that’s a wonderful thing.
The Price We Pay for Economic Freedom
Of course no one wants to become one of the many non-violent, peaceful traders the state has chosen to make examples of. Ross Ulbricht, Aaron Swartz, or that aforementioned guy in Michigan. We’ve got to be smart and shrewd. Encourage mass adoption and focus on the positive, to the end of these violent systems not becoming the focus, but becoming increasingly irrelevant. Life is inherently risk and opportunity laden. In a sense, these are one and the same. A “safety” which strips humans of their economic privacy and basic dignity is infinitely worse than a dignified, free choice in a perilous, yet opportunity-filled reality.
Tank Man Cometh
June 4, 2019. A KYC-free, peer-to-peer trading platform emerges, stepping out like a tiny Chinese man in front of a behemoth, rumbling fiat tank. Millions watch in expectant horror. “Who is he?” someone in the crowd implores desperately. The tank directly in front of him tries to go around, almost squashing him. He steps in front again. “What is he doing? Does he have a death wish!?” The fearful, shining eyes of the pulsing throng are engrossed on the scene, as the small businessman adjusts his grip on the bags in his left hand. The lid of the tank pops open. People gasp. A soldier, equal parts bewildered and angry peeks out of the portal and says something to the man. The tiny man begins to climb the hulking steel machine, making his way to the soldier. “They’ll kill him!” “He’s lost his mind!” There’s a blinding silence from the soldier’s searching, scandalized eyes, as the businessman leans in and asks a question.
“Excuse me. Where’s the bathroom?”
If you’d like to trade more freely, be sure to check out the P2P, non-KYC, private trading opportunities available at Local.Bitcoin.com.
This post was written by Graham Smith, an American expat living in Japan, and the founder of Voluntary Japan, an initiative dedicated to spreading the philosophies of unschooling, individual self-ownership, and economic freedom in the land of the rising sun.
OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.
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