Welcome back to the Liberty Crypto Reader!
The Lightning Network At One
Let there be Lightning! March 15th marked the 1 year anniversary of the Lightning Labs #lnd mainnet. In that year, Lightning has presented a credible vision for a high functioning truly peer-to-peer payments layer. What’s more, it’s ignited a huge amount of excitement from the community of builders, as exemplified by the huge amount of entrepreneurial activity around it.
It also inspired the #LNTrustChain, a world-scale experiment showing off the technology and strength of community behind it that has famously been shared by the likes of Jack Dorsey, Reid Hoffman and many more. Fittingly, last week, the torch was passed to Venezuela, being powered at one point with a car battery in the middle of a massive ongoing power outage. If that doesn’t get you pumped, you may be in the wrong industry.
World Day Against Cyber Censorship
March 12 was “World Day Against Cyber Censorship,” an annual event held since 2008 designed to highlight the battle to keep the internet free and open and beyond the control of autocrats everywhere.
The event provides a good moment to recognize how increasingly momentous a challenge it is to keep the internet a tool for freedom. Notably, the Wall Street Journal published a look at how China isn’t just developing the tools of surveillance, but exporting them in their article “The Autocrats Tool Kit.” Then again, as some pointed out, so in the US are we. “It’s a unipolar world; everyone is building the infrastructure for surveillance authoritarianism.”
Getting Down With The Privacy Party
One answer to the creep of the surveillance state is building even more powerful privacy technology. A challenge, of course, is that people tend to willingly trade their privacy for convenience. This essay looks at historical moments where our relationship with privacy has changed and asks what it will take this time.
Then again, that may be a distinctly US-centric perspective. Quartz reported on how Indians are increasingly flocking to Tor to get around digital censorship. At the exact same time, however, Germany is trying to criminalize the running of Tor nodes, using the specter of crime facilitation to justify the action. Investor and analyst Nic Carter speculated that a similar justification might be used to try to criminalize holding Bitcoin.
Candidates Gone Crypto!
Who is in charge obviously plays a big role in how governments act on Bitcoin and crypto. Given that, you gotta call the last week promising if you’re a US citizen. We’ve got John Delany talking about speeches at the DC Blockchain Summit and lauding the crypto community. Andrew Yangs meme fueled ascension continues to speed up, and he was tweeting about Bitcoin way back in 2013. And then there’s Beto. While he may not have said much about crypto specifically, news broke this week that the upstart was a previous member of Cult of the Dead Cow, one of the most famous hacking groups in American history - indeed, they are the group that coined the term “hacktivism.”
This could get interesting.
Liberty Quick Hits
A few more great articles that are a must for any liberty-related reading list.
Completely Offline Bitcoin Transactions
When Venezuela’s electricity went out, it provided an opportunity for careerist Bitcoin Fudsters to argue that it wasn’t a good money because it needed the internet and electricity. Interestingly, someone quickly pointed out their battery powered, satellite & mesh networking setup for sending and receiving BTC during internet/power outages. How ‘bout that?
The problem on the other side of cashlessness
Despite the crypto community’s excitement for non-fiat money, there is a recognition across the community of the role that cash plays, particularly in the context of private transactions. A new report shows that the negative impacts are concentrated among the most vulnerable.
The idea of an alternative financial system is not unique to the crypto community. In fact, community savings and lending associations are a bedrock of informal financial infrastructure around the world. This week, the LA Times profiled their city’s Cambodian community “tontine” finance associations.
The Human Rights Case For Bitcoin
CoinCenter published an absolutely must read essay by the Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein on a response to Bitcoin critics. Peep this then go read the rest.
"The greatest potential that Bitcoin has is to help the most vulnerable on this planet, those without bank accounts, identities, or access to the financial system. Now, with just a phone and an internet connection, anyone can receive bitcoin from anyone else in the world, in minutes, for a small fee, with no possibility of censorship or seizure, without needing to ask permission from anyone, and without needing to prove an identity.”