Earlier this month, Edward Snowden was interviewed at a Blockstack event. He gave his views via webcam on the developing Bitcoin technology and the assessment isn’t entirely flattering.
Snowden, who became prominent in the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) whistleblowing affair in 2013, thinks that Bitcoin’s major flaw is in its public ledger. He thinks that people are too “focused on the transaction rate limitations” when instead “the long-lasting flaw is its public ledger.”
When asked whether he owns any digital money or found any interests in cryptocurrencies, Snowden joked that as an advocate for privacy, he would advise that no one should ever say that they own cryptocurrencies, but hinted that, in order to remain anonymous, he may have used Bitcoin when he was working on procuring information for the NSA report.
He also went on to explore the positive aspects possible of the developing technologies, such as blockchain, and indicated that we should focus on the possibilities for good things, rather than bad otherwise we might as well “pack up the game” and “become less capable as people.”
Snowden admitted that he finds ZCash – a cryptocurrency focused on enhanced privacy for its users – interesting because of its unique properties and is optimistic that other projects are trying to imitate this. He further offered that there is a need for more teams, users and projects which aren’t aiming to compete and that cryptos “picking their own flavor” – or trying to find their own niche in the digital financial market – is an “enormous mistake”. Snowden thinks that instead they should be uniting themselves to be capable to defend rights when it comes to the Democratic State of Regulation.
Snowden’s detailed concern about Bitcoin’s public ledgers is that “you cannot have a lifelong history of everyone’s purchases available to everyone and have that work out well at scale”. In likening Bitcoin to the first internet browser, which is no longer the best option, he thinks that there is still innovative value to the currency. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, he doesn’t think Bitcoin will survive and that the core development team “simply needs to do better” in their rate of improvement to protocols.
This standpoint on the danger of the public blockchain is not surprising, given the recent report leaked backed by the whistleblower, which laid out the NSA’s active pursuit to monitor Bitcoin transactions and their agenda to undermine the pseudonymity of Bitcoin users.