Bitcoin was recently recovered by the FBI from the ‘Colonial Pipeline’ ransomware cyber criminals DarkSide, sparking privacy concerns around cryptocurrencies generally & Bitcoin in particular. Marta Belcher, general counsel of Protocol Labs, talks to Forkast’s Angie Lau in depth about the issues this raises & the implications for civil society, data privacy, web 3.0 and the decline of cash.
00:00 Angie Lau intro, summary of Colonial Pipeline ransomware case
01:40 Marta Belcher interview proper begins
Back in early May, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to pay the hackers US$5 million in cryptocurrencies. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the FBI had successfully recovered US$2.3 million of the ransom in Bitcoin.
Those who really understood Bitcoin — and blockchain technology’s digital trail of crumbs that led to the crypto’s recovery — were gobsmacked. What could those cybercriminals possibly have been thinking?
Pioneering blockchain lawyer Marta Belcher — general counsel at Protocol Labs and special counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy rights advocacy group — , says many people still do not realize that Bitcoin is not anonymous — it is pseudonymous.
“You’re having a public key recorded permanently on a ledger forever. And anyone can see that,” Belcher explained, in a video interview with Forkast.News. “The authorities can see that. In some ways, it’s a shortcut for law enforcement.”
Instead of something very traceable by the government, Belcher says having a truly decentralized device for finance is essential to privacy and civil liberties.
“I like to think about this photo that I saw from the Hong Kong protests. There are these photos where there are these long lines at the subway stations because the protesters wanted to buy their train tickets using cash because they didn’t want their electronic purchases to place them at the scene of the protest,” Belcher said. “That really underscores that a cashless society is a surveillance society and the importance of certain technologies that can enable anonymous transactions.”
Belcher told Forkast.News that this is how anonymity can enhance civil liberties, and also why privacy coins — fully private and anonymous — matter.
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ABOUT ANGIE LAU
Angie Lau is editor-in-chief, CEO & founder of Forkast.News and host of ‘The Daily Forkast’. She is an award-winning veteran journalist, a respected thought leader in blockchain technology and a speaker at conferences around the world including the Forbes Summit, Binance Blockchain Week, Paris Blockchain Week Summit and the Asia Blockchain Summit.
Before founding Forkast in July 2018, Angie anchored Bloomberg TV’s flagship morning show “First Up with Angie Lau” broadcast globally into 350 million homes, offices and trading floors. Angie’s TED Talk “I Am Not Supposed to Be Here” is now a TED-Ed lesson for its global audience of 6.7 million followers.