The Importance of Anonymity

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about… until you do. Remaining anonymous, especially in the lawyer loving police state that is America, is crucial if you’re taking direct action to challenge the state. Last Friday the federal government begun its arrests of people involved with the Liberty Reserve:

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment of seven men alleged to be involved with Liberty Reserve, one of the world’s most notorious digital currencies. (Liberty Reserve was the preferred payment choice of a booter site used to attack Ars in March of 2013.)

Federal authorities seized and four other related domain names, effectively shutting down the site. The site’s founder, Arthur Budovsky Belanchuk (who apparently renounced his US citizenship in 2011 to become a Costa Rican citizen), was arrested last Friday in Costa Rica.

In a 27-page indictment (PDF), the defendants are charged with money laundering and conspiracy to operate unlicensed money transmitting business. They are ordered to surrender “all property, real and personal” including: “at least $6 billion” and tens of millions of dollars more allegedly contained within bank accounts across Costa Rica, Cyprus, Russia, Hong Kong, Morocco, China, Spain, Latvia, and Australia.

The federal government has a long history of attacking anybody who attempts to challenge the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on currency. The Washington Post asks if Bitcon may be the next target of the state’s aggression. Bitcoin, however, will be much harder to strike against. Why? Because the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, isn’t a real person. Satoshi Nakamoto was a pseudonym for the real developer(s). Since the person or persons responsible for Bitcoin can’t be identified the state has nobody to lash out against.

Many people believe they have nothing to hide. I’m sure Mr. Belanchuk believed he had nothing to worry about when he founded Liberty Reserve. There are not statue of limitations when one has affronted the state. While your actions may not be illegal today there is no guarantee that the state won’t move against you tomorrow. Yet the state is not omnipotent, it can only strike against those it can identify. So long as you remain anonymous, as the real person(s) behind the screen name Satoshi Nakamoto did, you are safe from the state’s wrath.