Edward Snowden Delivers ‘Final’ Bitcoin Warning: Here’s Why

Edward Snowden, the well-known whistleblower, reiterated his long standing concerns about Bitcoin’s privacy features, or the lack thereof in a recent post on X. Snowden’s latest comments emerge in the wake of a significant announcement by the Wasabi Wallet team concerning their decision to discontinue their coinjoin coordination service, a cornerstone for enhancing user privacy on the Bitcoin network.

‘The Clock Is Ticking’ For Bitcoin, Says Snowden

Snowden expressed his frustration with the slow pace of privacy enhancements within Bitcoin’s protocol. “I’ve been warning Bitcoin developers for ten years that privacy needs to be provided for at the protocol level. This is the final warning. The clock is ticking,” Snowden posted on X, commenting on Wasabi Wallet’s announcement from yesterday.

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Wasabi Wallet, developed by zkSNACKs, has been a pioneering solution aimed at enhancing privacy for Bitcoin transactions through its coinjoin coordination service. However, a recent blog post by the Wasabi Wallet team detailed their decision to halt this service as of June 1, 2024.

“After years of relentless dedication to improve Bitcoin’s privacy, zkSNACKs, the company pioneering the development of Wasabi Wallet, is shutting down its coinjoin coordination service,” the post read. The developers highlighted ongoing regulatory pressures and the need for legal clarity as key reasons behind their decision.

Despite discontinuing the coinjoin service, Wasabi Wallet will continue to operate as a conventional BTC wallet. The team assured users of continued privacy enhancements through other features like client-side filtering, Tor integration, and custom coin selection, though they acknowledged these measures do not ensure complete privacy on their own.

This development arrives amid increasing scrutiny and legal challenges facing crypto privacy tools. Notably, New York federal prosecutors recently charged the founders of another privacy-focused wallet, Samourai Wallet, with facilitating illegal transactions worth over $2 billion. This action is part of a broader crackdown by US authorities on wallets and mixers associated with illicit activities.

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While Snowden has lauded Bitcoin in February as the “most significant monetary advance since the creation of coinage,” his concerns about BTC built-in privacy have been consistent. In November 2021, he lauded the advancements made by Zcash, another cryptocurrency known for its strong privacy features.

He stated, “Zcash meaningfully advanced what cryptocurrency could DO, and that’s what I admired about it. And my primary criticism of Bitcoin is still, so many years later, that they haven’t addressed its enormous on-chain privacy problem.”

In contrast, Samson Mow, a prominent figure in promoting nation-state adoption of Bitcoin, downplayed the significance of Wasabi’s announcement. Mow argued, “I don’t get why everyone is crying about this. Wasabi is open-source. You can run your own coordinator too. This is like the Pirate Bay saying they won’t seed torrents anymore. Yes, good and smart move.”

At press time, BTC traded at $61,900.

BTC price breaks above $60,000, 1-day chart | Source: BTCUSD on TradingView.com

Featured image from Literary Hub, chart from TradingView.com

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Author: Jake Simmons

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