We received the opportunity to post this amazing interview conducted by Naomi Brockwell interviewing Edward Snowden. Here, they discuss the importance of privacy, freedom and Bitcoin.
Naomi Brockwell is the award-winning producer who has hosted some of the largest economics conferences around the world, and who is very big on privacy.
We did an exclusive interview with Naomi Brockwell before this interview. If you want to hear more about her story, please click here.
You’ve talked a lot about crypto before. In your book, you mentioned that you became allergic to credit cards at one stage and you started using cash to buy furniture and everything else in your life, and I think that cash is great, because it’s a great anonymizing tool, where credit card companies can’t collect you data and it doesn’t go into this permanent record that the government is creating on you about your purchases. But we live in a digital age, and most of our online interactions, our online transactions are done digitally, so would you say that cryptocurrency could be a way forward for people to have more freedom in their lives? And is bitcoin the answer? You’ve talked a lot about Zcash before. You’ve mentioned that the privacy element is something that’s inherently missing in bitcoin. So what is your view of cryptocurrency, and is something you’d encourage people to look into?
I think it’s inevitable. And in fact I think we’ve already seen states recognize that digital currencies will be the next stage of money, because they’re trying to create competitors now, effectively to bitcoin. And I think they’re not really hiding the fact that it’s that. So-called central bank digital currencies, which is just a rebranded version of fiat currencies, which don’t have any really desirable properties for the public at large beyond the government being able to more effectively disburse sort of stimulus payments, but that unfortunately means, and I think a lot of people don’t have the financial sophistication to realize, that actually means they are simply taxing you in a new way, because that stimulus payment is debasing the value of the currency at large.
Digital currency in the general sense, cryptocurrency in the general sense, does not solve the problem of inflation and hidden taxes in that way. Bitcoin, in a large way, makes it more predictable, in that it has a predictable low rate of inflation, which is constantly decreasing. But as you say, the problem when we talk about everybody moving to digital currencies, we know the bitcoin network doesn’t support throughput. Unfortunately, the bitcoin network, as it exists, does not provide the privacy and protections really necessary for these kinds of transactions at scale. And I think it should and it could, and it’s clear to me the developers realized this should be done. For whatever reason, however, when we’re talking about bitcoin improvements, they haven’t actually moved to do this, which is puzzling to me because now they’ve had years to do it.
When we talk about this, though, the inevitability of this transformation towards digital currency, I’m not picking winners and losers. I don’t have a horse or a care or a concern as to who wins this, beyond, I think, what the world needs, what we need is a truly independent means of enabling private transactions. If that’s bitcoin, great, fabulous. I use bitcoin. I’ve used bitcoin before. I’ll continue to use bitcoin. But it’s very difficult for me to use bitcoin. And yet that is a huge improvement over credit cards, which I cannot use. Because those networks are not even pseudonymous in the way that, for example, a bitcoin transaction would be.
So this is to say that cryptocurrency has, I think at this point, amongst the development community, the academic community, pretty well understood flaws. But I don’t think there’s any reason to say they can’t be resolved. If we’re talking off-chain transactions, cross-chain transactions, there are a lot of groups working on this. My big question is, “Why are you guys taking so long?”
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