Bitcoin, tax, and privacy

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It’s a funny thing when it comes to Bitcoin. Many early adopters saw Bitcoin as a tax-free haven. As a way to facilitate borderless payments outside the bounds of regulatory frameworks and tax laws. What many later came to learn is that Bitcoin tax in most countries is treated with the same vigor as property tax. Apparent in Bitcoin’s design is the traceability factor. We often say that Bitcoin is “pseudonymous.” That’s like saying it isn’t exactly anonymous, but nor is it outright giving your name away. Another way of saying it is that Bitcoin is private.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. It is even recognized as such in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and many other international treaties and declarations from various organisations. Then, it is found to be by any reasonable measure, a right that is on shared grounds to Freedom of Speech. Particularly now, more than ever, perhaps, in the midst of our global technological revolution, never has our privacy been under threat as it is today.

Bitcoin is built with privacy in mind. It is not an anonymous coin or ledger like many that have flourished over the past several years such as Monero or ZCash. Recently, several exchanges have felt the pinch of regulatory forces and have started delisting such anonymous tokens. Bitcoin itself remains safe.

Why?

I believe the crux of this reason is that Bitcoin remains magnitudes more transparent than your local bank. Think about that for a minute. The statement isn’t one made by some crypto-fanatic pushing an agenda; this is a fact of the Bitcoin blockchain. Every coin can ultimately be traced back to its mining birth. For this reason, the quintessential Bitcoin Whitepaper describes a coin as a “chain of signatures.”

Most governments around the world have come to sufficiently understand the transparent nature of the blockchain and have appropriately come to assess Bitcoin’s nature suitably. When it comes to tax laws, many governments around the world have come to treat it no different to property. Take, for example, the IRS position “For federal tax purposes; virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.” – That is, upon sale or trade of the asset, the transaction is subject to capital gains tax. Of course, there are also a few tax havens around the world, and on the other hand, there are some states (including Japan, Bolivia, Columbia) that have cryptocurrency tax laws that are incredibly severe. But worse are those that have banned Bitcoin (such as Egypt).

Severe measures against Bitcoin come from a lack of understanding the technology. If most governments understood the transparent nature of Bitcoin and how it could help them, they would jump at the opportunity to embrace the technology. Fear is often a motivator of a strong response. The moderate response is the one many countries have already adopted, likening Bitcoin to property.

Bitcoin doesn’t need to be feared, nor banned, nor should it be under a constant watchful eye. Surveillance is for things that are opaque and hidden. Bitcoin’s blockchain is transparent and can be audited on-demand on an as-need basis. And this is the beauty of Bitcoin’s design. It does not require a watchful eye nor an extreme response that requires its users to report the ongoing funds at every single address. Why? Because it is sufficient to declare the profit and loss on trades, and where there is a discrepancy, an audit can yield further information.

Excessive opposition will only drive users to move to dark web markets, and trade with anonymous coins where tracking becomes much more difficult. However, for Bitcoin, the overall response from the governments around the world has been somewhat encouraging ‘till now… As the most honest and transparent ledger the world has ever known, it is perhaps time that the world embraces this technology, rather than shy or fear it.

To embrace Bitcoin is to embrace its private nature, a fundamental human right. A ledger of truth can yield profound positive changes for the world, but it requires level-headedness. It requires a balance in law that protects users, but also provides visibility of those funding child abuses, terrorism or slavery.

Bitcoin, in the fulfilment of its purpose, will go some way not only to keep citizens honest but governments also. A transparent ledger keeps accountability of all parties – equally, irrespective of whether one is a politician, businessman, or thief.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Dr. Wright and the altered PDF

Much of the hysteria surrounding the recent court case with Dr. Wright vs Ira Kleiman has been shrouded in the controversy of the tulip trust. Up until now, I haven’t publicly stated my thoughts on much, because I haven’t had a solid opinion on much up until now. Here in this piece, I’m not going to mince words. I’m going to keep this short and succinct.

First let’s clarify some of the misconceptions. The outcome of the discovery process was an order by the judge that recommended the award to the plaintiff. This will be taken into consideration in the actual trial.

Enemies and haters of Craig Wright immediately hit social media and outlets with cries of joy as if the most wanted man in the world had just been captured. This overzealous response did not take into account that there was no judgement — but a court order.

At the heart of it all is the Tulip trust which Dr. Wright’s team argued was legitimate and held a large number of Bitcoin locked (both legally and cryptographically) until the year 2020. The judge seemed puzzled by the belief that the date on a generated PDF record of an email, should hold the identical date as the email.

The Tulip trust document can be found in an email which was sent in 2011. The discrepancy is displayed in the following two documents provided to the court. One with a 2014 date, and the other with the 2011 date.


What has been ignored is the original email in question. Clearly these records stem from an email. So why wasn’t the original email interrogated at all? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it most certainly should have been exhausted option — particularly, and especially given what is at stake here. Ah well, in any case, I have my hands on the original email. The original .msg file is on my machine and we are going to investigate this. So let’s open it.

A screenshot of a pdf of an email may tell you some things… But when you look at the email itself, you start to get a little more clarity. What we have here is an email sent on the 24th of June, 2011. Attached is the Tulip Trust document which we have all come to be familiar with.

Checking the email headers, every date stamp within there also matches up when you take into account the timezone differences.

So, let’s double click the Tulip Trust attachment and have a look at the contents…

That’s most definitely the Tulip Trust we are familiar with… so what about the dates associated with this file which is attached to the original email?

Okay what we have here is a very consistent date on the date that the PDF was generated. Remember once again, this is a PDF generation date, not the date the document was created… Now more interestingly also, the PDF Producer is PaperPort 12 which is a consistent version for the time period, and also, the PDF Version, falls consistently for a 2011 period.

After a thorough examination of all of this, we are left without a doubt, that had the court exhausted this avenue to identify the origins and validity of dates, it would have left no question as to the date origins and validity of this document. That simple discrepancy could have been quashed just by checking the original email.

A printout of a PDF of an email leaves a lot to be desired for. If tampering seems probable on some submission, then reverting to the source material is a no-brainer. We want to get to the truth of things after all… or do we?

Author’s side note:

Now, many people like to silence my voice because I have friendly standing with Dr. Wright. It’s true I do have a friendly standing… but if I thought he was a fraud, I can assure you this standing would be non-existent. I have never asked for, nor have I ever been paid for anything got to do with Craig. Calvin and CoinGeek don’t pay me for anything I write (they’ve tried to compensate for my efforts and I’m not interested). CoinGeek even published one piece where I was critical of both CoinGeek and Craig at one point — do you really think a paid employee would do that? Kudos to them for publishing, because they know that ultimately I want what is best for Bitcoin. You may not believe that some people actively like to push for a truth without any financial incentive, but some people actually do. And the truth is, that this central piece of evidence was disregarded in the discovery process.

Others have already tried to smear my name and have attempted to attack what they call “journalistic integrity.” And here’s a truth, if I was a journalist, this would be my career, and I’d be getting paid for it. My voice would be for sale — and it’s not.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Bitcoin’s capacity to make the world better

The recent recommendation in the Ira vs Craig case, rewarding half the Bitcoin to Ira, stood firmly on the basis that the judge believed Craig had tampered with documents. Wright’s team claimed that some documents were hacked and maliciously modified.

One of the difficulties of this trial is the sheer volume of data. On one hand, when one team is asked to hand everything over, you hand everything you have over. You don’t go through every document and analyse for tamperings – there’s no time for that. Nonetheless, the judge deems that if you provide documents, the onus is on you to ensure the veracity of the contents. This is a valid position.

The ultimate truth of the forged documents may never really be known. All we can do in our current system is have a judge or jury rule on what they perceive to be the truth. Much of what is in law is (particularly in the absence of hard evidence) often subjective. It is on what we are inclined to reasonably believe or reasonably reject. Cases that are in the absence of hard evidence often introduce incredibly polarizing opinions. Take for example the recent case against Cardinal Pell who is now a convicted pedophile. This case was based on the testimony of one person (the victim). The judge and jury in that case found that the victim’s account was “believable”, and this was sufficient to lock the cardinal up. The lack of hard evidence provided an outlet for public divide on the matter, with notable Catholics and commentators doubting the judgement. The jury in that case conclusively decided that Pell was guilty.

Wright’s team claimed the doctored documents were a result of a hack, but they did not produce hard evidence to back up this claim.

Hard evidence is hard to come by. This is an unfortunate aspect of many trials. It is for the judge and jury to determine who is right and who is wrong, and to rule accordingly. I like to believe they usually get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong.

Interestingly, a new Northwestern University study found that one in eight juries are making the wrong decision – by convicting an innocent or acquitting the guilty.

The point of this piece isn’t to say whether Craig did, or did not. Not at all. And it’s not to dilute a judgement, and it’s not to question the veracity of the law. It is to bring to light, an ever-present problem within the system, that by the account of many studies, exists.

So I present the question: How different would this discovery process had been if Bitcoin SV’s MetaNet had been around for the last two decades (presuming technology was there).

The metanet world will be vastly different to today’s world. It will be a world where countless devices all around the world are hooked up to the blockchain, autonomously feeding and giving data. Where all future food deliveries are managed on-chain, and where vertical farms make their supply orders automatically. Robots will drive major ecosystems. Such changes are already happening… just think about lights-out factories. Human responsibilities are moving towards creating, building and automating. The every day routine jobs, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. And much of that change is irrespective of the blockchain. But when all these devices interact on chain, you have a single truth system, where every entity owns its own data.

One of the key take-aways of the Metanet is that everything that is of value is recorded on-chain. When records, workflows and movements are recorded immutably on-chain with time-stamped precision you have a very different set of proceedings in court.

First let’s go to the question where the judge asked if Craig wrote the Bitcoin whitepaper, to which Craig and the Plaintiff agreed Craig is the author. However, in a metanet world, Craig would have had the associated key, and would be able to prove with significant weight that he did so.

But more importantly, questions regarding the legitimacy of documents would effectively be practically non-existent. In a metanet economy, where data has direct value, not only would hackers be dis-incentivized from modifying a record (since the original will always exist on-chain), but even if they tried, the original could easily be recalled and used with potent effect, dismissing the fraudulent document.

Bitcoin SV is building an honest system. A system of traceability and accountability. Whether Craig did or didn’t, the truth would be concrete in a metanet world. 

Encrypted key frames from CCTV could record the presence or absence of an individual in a specific place to acquit or convict them. Encrypted crime-scene photos could be uploaded the very moment they are taken on a tablet and uploaded, making tampering of original evidence near impossible. This world is being built right under our noses, and there are a number of applications being built already that are offering this sort of transparency. Here’s a very recent one called Tape Recorder: LINK – which uses an interesting method to record script attestations, promoting transparency.

Not only does the metanet help in providing an ultimate truth to a dispute, it also goes quite someway to discourage would-be hackers and criminals. Accountability indeed reshapes people’s behaviour for the better. However, your privacy continues to remain your privacy, as you choose to encrypt your data. All this data then, lives not on Facebook’s servers, not on Google’s servers, and certainly not on Apple’s servers, but on the blockchain that remains decentralized, and where only you have the key to unlock YOUR DATA.

The metanet world is a better world. Bitcoin SV is building this world.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Bitcoin SV (BSV) now stands head and shoulders above the rest

Click here to read in Russian.

What Bitcoin SV (BSV) can do today, no other blockchain or digital asset can even come close to. BSV stands alone as the only universal multi-purpose data ledger with an economic model that produces the ultimate in security. It’s time to revisit why we are here, and what we have achieved with Bitcoin SV so far. Today we see the latest Bitcoin protocol upgrade, named Quasar.

BTC is hamstrung with an artificially stifled throughput, as well as false and evidently failed scaling solutions Segwit and Lightning Network. LTC, which is in much of its entirety a clone copy of BTC, also suffers similar problems at scale. ETH which was once upon a time touted as the world computer literally broke down in a congestion nightmare in 2017 as a single app called Cryptokitties brought the entire chain to its knees. The same scalability problems ETH faced then continue to affect it today, as do many security concerns which I’ve written about in the past. Other coins have simply fell by the wayward with lacklustre developments, meandering roadmaps, or simply an outright refusal to scale.

“Big blockers” — a phrase given to those who want to see Bitcoin scale massively to global ambition, are all betting on Bitcoin SV. With the “Quasar” upgrade, Bitcoin SV stands at a default maximum 2GB capacity per block (though some miners intend to set a lower, but still very big, 512MB cap for an initial period to allow the network to get accustomed to bigger block capacity), and it signals strongly to businesses around the world. Bitcoin SV is ready. February next year, the maximum cap on the node software is removed altogether.

What we are seeing is a determined development team seeking to offload responsibility and influence of a key scalability variable, and empower miners who run the network to make decisions themselves on what capacity limits best serves them, and in consequence, serves the interests Bitcoin itself.

On face value, this is a capacity increase that enables Bitcoin SV to match and exceed the likes of VISA and co. But holistically, this represents a major paradigm shift in the way Bitcoin is perceived to work by the eco-system of miners and businesses. What I am alluding to is Nakamoto Consensus. Miners will not be mining 2GB blocks right from the very beginning of this upgrade (indeed, as noted above, some miners will begin at 512MB caps and increase toward the 2GB default hard cap over time). Blocks of GB size will come organically as demand for the network and transactions grows, and as miners adjust their own soft and hard limits to adjust for demand, we find the true nature of Nakamoto Consensus come into play as described by Dr. Craig Wright (pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto) in the seminal 2008 whitepaper. This means that miners themselves, will now vote for consensus on new block sizes (up to 2GB). Miners that fail on consensus stand to find their blocks orphaned. Undoubtedly, some lesser knowledgeable news outlets will paint this as a negative, when in reality, it is the outcome of the very feature described by Satoshi Nakomoto concerning miners voting on rule changes.

While this particular “Quasar” upgrade sets the default hard limit at 2GB, the next upgrade due in early 2020 will seek to remove the hard limit altogether, and empowers miners to completely vote on this rule. Bitcoin SV will be free of a developer-controlled variable forevermore. In the interim, 2GB will be more than sufficient to carry to the torch of scalability for the next 7 months.

The inventor of Bitcoin Dr. Craig Wright states that the upgrade “leads to a long term path for miners. With the upcoming block reward halving approaching, transaction volume becomes much more critical. BTC is not going to keep doubling in price.” Undoubtedly this is the only logical front that comes out on top. And Bitcoin SV is pushing this angle, because we do not seek to survive just for now, we seek to be global for many decades to come. “If it isn’t used, and use requires big blocks, then eventually people will stop investing in it. Bitcoin is designed to be a ledger. It competes on an open market with other options. Pure dogmatic ideas about the decentralisation are religion and will not continue to grow bitcoin. Most people don’t care for these dogmatic notions,” says Dr. Wright. He states that “with the increase in capacity, bitcoin becomes more useful for more parties and attracts further investment. Not because of dogma but because of economic viability and value. The more people use bitcoin, the more valuable it becomes the miners and the cheaper the transaction is becoming the same time. It’s a virtuous circle.”

Calvin Ayre who leads the biggest mining operation on the network agrees — “It is clear that the adoption of ‘original Bitcoin SV’ will be driven by application developers creating unique business models using the incredibly low cost microtransactions that only BSV with its massive scaling can offer. This latest proof of the massive scaling available today on BSV will just speed up the application development as BSV will have gapped all competing technologies and will be the only choice for any application that needs low cost microtransactions. Original Bitcoin SV stands alone in the world today as a utility platform.”

Today not a single coin comes close. Not even anywhere near the scalability and technical prowess of Bitcoin SV and the revolutionary Metanet which will sit atop this blockchain. But this future is unfolding right before our very own eyes. Some see it and are paving the way. Only very recently, we had a new Github like application created on the Metanet: CodeonChain which is an immutable, timestamped code repository that tracks all changes on-chain. Such applications are being built right now. With Bitcoin SV we do not need to wait for promises of grandeur, because that promise exists today and is actively being utilised and developed by application developers from all over the world. With Bitcoin SV we do not need to pitch to investors of how great things are going to be tomorrow, because things are great today.

Jimmy Nguyen, Founding President of Bitcoin Association (the global industry organization which backs BSV), describes immediate goals to attract business use: “With the Quasar upgrade bringing BSV very big block capacity and with unlimited capacity coming next February, we are very focused now on getting real enterprise applications built on BSV. BSV provides the advantages of massive data capacity, speed, and tiny transaction fees that enable micro-payments and high volume data transactions of all types. Businesses in every industry can use the BSV blockchain to develop virtually any application they can imagine.”

In less than one year of the BSV ticker’s existence, it has managed to overtake a majority number of top 10 coins by market cap in transaction volume and is on track to overtake BTC volume in the very near future. Overtaking BTC is not the aim however, as that would be an easy feat. BSV seeks to overtake VISA and the like, as Satoshi stated it could in its infancy. This is what this upgrade is all about. This is what all these scalability efforts have been about.

There are no half measures here. We are heading full steam and leaving the competition for dead. Bitcoin SV is a society of developers, users, businesses and miners working on scaling and on application development to take things to the next level. This unbounded scale is upon us. Meanwhile, scam riddled blockchains like Ethereum are still desperately trying to untangle themselves from a scaling mess that is choking on its own flawed implementation.

Bitcoin had it right in the beginning, and now we prove every day that this solid, foundational protocol is capable of delivering a new economic model for the entire world. Bitcoin SV is evidence that Satoshi was right on scaling.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

a-bit-about-dr-craig-wright

A bit about Dr. Craig Wright

I first communicated with Dr. Wright in a series of interviews in early 2016… shortly after him being outed, and he was still at this point, very much out of the public eye. However, former lead Bitcoin Core developer Gavin Andresen had already stated that he witnessed Craig sign with keys that only Satoshi Nakamoto could have possessed. I knew who I may have been dealing with…

I was cautioned prior to the interview… that Craig can be a little intense – (I don’t quite recall the word used but I think ‘intense’ is relevant enough).

Certainly at that time the VAST majority of Bitcoiners did not believe that Craig was the man behind, in my opinion, the greatest invention since the internet itself, and perhaps even bigger. But I kept a very open mind. He rejected putting out cryptographic evidence at a time where we told the world that he would, and instead posted the Sartre piece… choosing to reject the Satoshi title, which in retrospect he viewed as a bad decision. But the spectre of Satoshi loomed large and, as time went on, it became more difficult to separate Craig from the Satoshi saga, for reasons right or wrong.

When our interviews began, all I had known about Craig was that he at one point claimed to be Satoshi (but then seemingly retracted), and that this man was under incessant attacks.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into…

A little about me: I have a full time job working as a software engineer on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project, and keep a number of Bitcoin-related projects going on the side. I never considered myself a journalist. I somehow became a bit of a voice (one of many) for the big-blocker party (to the newcomers, that basically means we wanted to scale Bitcoin), and my passion to see Bitcoin reach its potential led me to write a series of pieces in an attempt to get some minds thinking rationally, to see Bitcoin succeed. It was most definitely under threat from being choked to death with an artificial limit on transactional throughput.

This passion led me to Dr. Wright. I didn’t know his stance on the blocksize debate at this point… But I did know that Satoshi did want to scale Bitcoin. It was one of my first questions, to which he immediately responded with “we are going to make sure Bitcoin scales.” That was three years ago… and here we are Bitcoin SV is now looking at 2Gb blocks this year. In 2016, the idea of 2Gb blocks was inconceivable… not within a 3 year period…

After publishing articles based on a series of interviews, I suddenly found myself drowning in attacks. Death threats to my mailbox, countless anonymous accounts attempting to belittle, mock and claim that my own voice and judgement were amiss. Much of the social media trolling was an attempt to make my voice as irrelevant as possible. And believe me, it’s not without effect. You’d be surprised how many people read only half an article, only to quickly check the comments section to assess public opinion. And perceived public opinion does indeed sway things…

This has been Gregory Maxwell’s (former Blockstream CTO dedicated to making life hell for Craig and big blockers) modus operandi. There’s strong evidence now that ties a number of online accounts including the infamous ‘Contrarian’ to Maxwell. These accounts have been dedicated to undertaking an unprecedented, 24/7 social engineering effort in skewing the public perception of Dr. Wright to incredible consequence.

In fact, the seeds sown by ‘Contrarian’ played a significant role in the schism in the Bitcoin Cash community that led to the birth of Bitcoin SV. In perhaps one of the most ironic turn of events, kicking Dr. Wright out of BCH ended up making Dr. Wright’s position 100 times more powerful. We’ll get back to this point later.

In our interviews, Craig’s willingness to scale Bitcoin immediately brought my guard down. This man wants to see Bitcoin succeed like no other… and it was in one of the earliest memos where he actually mentioned that Bitcoin was Turing complete. This was a key point that made me prod further. Eventually he provided some information pertaining to a fundamental key decision in Bitcoin’s design which enabled Bitcoin to be Turing complete. It was admittedly a revelation. But the revelations kept coming… one after the other… For example, when everyone thought Bitcoin topology was a mesh, as noted in the Mastering Bitcoin book, Craig rightfully said it was a small world network.

This man undoubtedly had an intimate understanding of the design of the system. I asked about his academic record (which was also under attack), and he provided copies of his entire academic record, which myself and others then followed up to confirm. The impressive academic record, was real. To date now, the man has 17 degrees and is currently studying for his 3rd doctorate.

In the following weeks, I guess Dr. Wright began to trust me a little, and began sharing a large swathe of early research work which led to Bitcoin. This included research work pertaining to Bitcoin’s neural network capability, and even Blacknet (now known as metanet). Craig has no idea of this, but the large volume of his own research that he sent quite literally kept me up all hours of the night and I’d end up at work a zombie… Occasionally, I’d message him to say I really have to sleep, only to get more emails stating “more reading material”. It was a rough time.

If you approach in good will and without any ill-intention to the original Bitcoin design, Craig will most certainly be open to sharing with you. Just don’t expect an outright extrovert.

With the bulk of intimate knowledge possessed by Craig, and with the recent signings to Matonis and Andresen, I was confident that this was the main man behind the world’s greatest invention. Why is it the world’s greatest invention? Because the problem of money has been solved. Finally. And contrary to what you may read or hear, the protocol must absolutely be locked if you want to prevent any future government, company or developer group from hijacking the protocol again for self interests.

Particularly in those days, if you said you thought Craig was Satoshi, you would be flamed, cast aside into oblivion. This happened to Gavin Andresen… he got knifed, not by Craig, but by Core devs who were so threatened by his admission that Craig was Satoshi that they couldn’t bear to allow him to retain commit access and potentially reintroduce the creator who would steer the ship back to its original course. So not only was Gavin kicked off the project, he was mauled by savages and forced into exile.

I met Roger Ver in 2017, when we were all on the same side. We may not be on the same side today, but I do not think Roger to be a bad person at all. In fact, he’s quite humble for a multi-millionaire. But I do think he’s been given some shocking advice that’s placed him in a difficult trajectory… that’s my opinion and he would disagree, that’s fine. He offered me a lift to the airport – and, I’m a nobody — but he was nice enough to do that. During the ride, he shared that he had met Dr. Wright a week prior and that Wright had offered to sign with Satoshi keys as evidence. Roger responded that he believed him and that signing was unnecessary. Roger then joked “of course I’m not prepared to go public about it.” We all knew what ‘going public’ meant. It meant suicide… look what happened to Gavin, to Matonis…

We generally kept quiet, but even my mere assertion that Craig understood Bitcoin and knew what he was talking about was met with heavy gunfire.

In fact even a recent post by Ryan X. Charles (CEO of Moneybutton) which painted Dr. Wright positively was met with incredible criticism, – mostly by anonymous accounts.

And while his supporters deal with a lot of shit-flinging, it pales heavily in comparison to what Craig deals with.

Granted, Craig now has a much bigger support base, is much better structured and is now on the offensive. And with Craig’s move to openly state that he created Bitcoin as well, it has become much easier to say the same these days. And this is the point that was raised earlier… the fightback is only just starting.

Craig has been dealing with credible death threats, family threats, sexual abuse threats, smear campaigns and dirty tactics that would make a presidential election race look coy. That’s not an exaggeration. This has been happening from people seeking to silence and destroy Craig from years before he was outed… the information is out there if you look beyond the prevailing rhetoric.

These individuals attempting to silence Craig now find themselves dealing with a monster forged of their own actions. When criminals choose to attack from the shadows and threaten family members and attempt to subdue people, don’t be surprised when the campaign is returned ten-fold. And in attaining legitimacy for his actions and his proofs, Craig is seeking the courts.

Astonishingly, people are actually crying foul play. There is no institution in the world that is without issue or controversy, true. But compare the legitimate standing of the court of law to underground criminal organisations and you have chalk and cheese.

Admittedly, there are times where I have felt I needed to apologise for Craig’s behaviour – and I was wrong to even contemplate that. With everything he has dealt with, you cannot expect a compliant individual. If he was a pushover, Bitcoin would’ve died already. Jimmy Nguyen was right when he said “I make no apologies for Craig Wright… otherwise he wouldn’t be who he is today”.

And who is Craig Wright? Based on everything I have personally seen and witnessed, he is the genius behind Bitcoin and the Metanet. To the doubters, the evidence is coming (from numerous fronts, including some I am personally digging out myself, and even culminating in a signing), but NOT on your terms. A man capable of over 17+ degrees, including multiple doctorates, operating numerous businesses, with countless inventions, papers, and heading for thousands of patents… well that should be an inspiration to anyone wanting to attain anything in life… As Ryan X. Charles voiced “I thought it was humanly impossible to achieve so much”…

Instead, this editorial will be ridiculed (mostly by anonymous trolls), and every outlet that has any investment or allegiance with competing digital assets will trash it.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Bitcoin and Crony Capitalism

The details in this piece are for all practical purposes public, if you know where to look. Knowing where to look seems to be a rather tedious process, in large thanks to the swathes of misinformation, and sometimes even intentional signal sabotage. But it is all there. Do your own research.

The basic mechanics of Bitcoin can be found in the seminal Bitcoin whitepaper. But further to that, many of the inventor’s own writings add to its contextual basis, and offer clarity to not only the decisions made in the original Bitcoin protocol, but also the functional capability of the code which enabled things like instant transactions with better than Credit Card fraud proofs, and programmable money. It’s easy to nit-pick and take what we think sounds good. But the design of Bitcoin is clear. It was always intended to be peer to peer cash, with its overarching protocol design locked down. It was designed to be a payment system that revolutionised the ease of use in which payments could be made.  

Imagine a type of programmable money, that sits on a publicly verifiable ledger, that is incorruptible in its nature, with a fixed supply, and a mathematically sound emission rate. This is the Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto created over a decade ago.

The problem with Bitcoin was however, wasn’t the system itself. When Satoshi left the project, its development was no longer protected. What should have been a stable protocol, became a hijacked protocol.

Perhaps it’s understandable. Bitcoin in its intended stable form is powerful enough to revolutionise the entire world for the better. Sound global money, that, with an intact protocol, cannot be corrupted by any single government, company or individual. But instead of embracing a positive change, we watched as major players in the financial industry demonstrated a substantial fear of change. Blockstream is a company founded in 2014, funded by high profile investors including AXA which invested $55m alone in 2016, sought to employ a large number of Bitcoin developers to work directly on the protocol itself. Sure enough, many Bitcoin Core developers were on Blockstream’s payroll.

The problem with a single company having such disproportionate large stake in the development of a protocol which is meant to be stable, presents a dangerous vector.

Google defines “Crony capitalism” as an economic system characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials.

In the Bitcoin world, the governance of the system, is the protocol itself.

So here we have, a for-profit organisation, that seeks to profit from Bitcoin by altering its development roadmap to serve the purposes of the company. What purposes are they?

I’m glad you asked. As Laura Shin of Forbes said of Adam Back:

While he agrees the community should try to scale Bitcoin so everyone on the planet can use it, he says that will happen with so-called second-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network and the product his company is working on, side chains, in which transactions don’t occur directly on the Bitcoin blockchain but are settled on it. (Blockstream plans to sell side chains to enterprises, charging a fixed monthly fee, taking transaction fees and even selling hardware…)

So how can Blockstream profit from Bitcoin transactions if transactions on Bitcoin are virtually almost-free (micro-cent transactions)?

To understand Blockstream’s role in hijacking the intended roadmap for Bitcoin, we have to understand a few things about how Bitcoin works. Satoshi defines a coin as a “chain of digital signatures” which lie on-chain (the public ledger). When transactions occur on-chain, it keeps the system honest, and accountable, because everything is immutably recorded on the ledger. This open system is still able to maintain individual privacy for the ordinary user. By the inventor’s own definition, you use Bitcoin when transactions happen on the blockchain.

To take things off-chain, you are effectively no longer using Bitcoin. But this is precisely what Blockstream’s business model intends. And so we circle back to topic of crony capitalism. In order to sell off-chain transactions to users, the fees for transactions that are on-chain have to be substantially higher than their off-chain model. And this is where BTC fell apart.

In order to force the on-chain fees to go up, Bitcoin Core developers, under the leadership of Blockstream, sought to limit the transactional throughput of the Bitcoin blockchain. What was supposed to be a temporary “flood-proof” measure implemented by Satoshi Nakamoto, ended up being a central argument for Core developers to ensure that Bitcoin was incapable of transmitting more than 7 transactions per second globally. The strain on throughput was not for any infrastructure reasons. It was purely artificial.

The consequence of this, meant that to get your transaction processed, you would have to pay a higher transaction fee than anyone else at the time, creating a double blind auction, with chaotic wait times. At the height of BTC’s last investment hype cycle in 2017, fees per transaction went well above $50 USD per transaction. Thankfully, in the aftermath, with very few people using BTC again, the fees have come all the way back down. And that comment is drooling in sarcasm if you couldn’t pick it. There is nothing revolutionary or ground breaking about a system that chokes and charges 50+USD on every single transaction.

Pictures speak a thousand words, and below we have the evidence (from online message boards) of the panic that ensued as BTC came to a grinding halt. Consequently BTC lost half its global market cap to other coins.

Bitcoin and Crony Capitalism

By all means, the above catastrophe was intentional… and, would you believe, celebrated by one Bitcoin Core’s key leaders:

Bitcoin and Crony Capitalism

LINK

Blockstream’s answer is for everyone to use an off-chain network called “Lightning Network”, which by majority accounts, is a user experience nightmare. To move money to the Lightning Network, you ‘still’ have to pay an expensive on-chain transaction fee, and to settle, you have to do the same again. Not to mention the requirement for an always online node, and many other pain points that are beyond the scope of this piece. Suffice to say, it doesn’t work in mainstream commerce.

Take transactions off-chain, and you have lost all the benefits that come with blockchain. Year after year, we have conferences and groups all over the world, talking about the benefits of blockchain. Ask yourself why would we implement economic measures that prevent people from using it? No other blockchain project in the crypto-verse seeks to do this but BTC.

Bitcoin Core developer meddling with the Bitcoin protocol did not stop at that. BTC also introduced a number of radical changes including Segregated Witness (SegWit) which substantially modifies a key tenet of Bitcoin (the very definition of a coin as a chain of digital signatures) expressed in the Satoshi whitepaper, and RBF (replace by fee) which literally killed the viability of ‘instant’ transactions.

You would be forgiven for thinking every change introduced happened to be a commerce killer. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that without commerce, Bitcoin is dead. Interestingly enough, Bitcoin’s logo was present in countless bars, pubs, cafes in 2014 and 2015. All of these businesses had to revert once the fees shot up. Today, instead of seeing bars accepting Bitcoin, we see them accepting an array of other digital tokens such as DASH and Litecoin.

Prior to BTC splitting with BCH, and then BSV, Blockstream would very much argue against any splits. A split that preserves the original protocol, would of course bring light on both the capability of the original implementation versus the disaster of the hijacked edition.

Bitcoin and Crony Capitalism

LINK

But the split was necessary to preserve Satoshi’s reference protocol. First it was saved in the BTC/BCH split, and then in the BCH/BSV split.

nChain who lead the development of BSV, have categorically stated their intention to lock down the protocol. This has become a gruellingly vital move. Particularly given the number of times crony developers have surfaced to implement changes to the detriment of a free market.

For example, we can look at Ethereum’s recent agreement to change its proof of work (mining) algorithm in order to kick out ASIC miners. ASIC miners are simply, application specific miners that have risked a legitimate investment in order to have a solid return. Now, Ethereum developers are seeking to change the protocol to the detriment of those miners. Think on this for a moment, and how this impacts free markets, trust, and confidence? Now, what enterprise company would seek to build their application on such a platform? What happens when developers deem you to be a threat, or believe you have become grown too fast too quickly?

At the height of the hashwar between BSV and BCH, the developers of BCH, implemented secretive changes to the code that were only known to a handful of entities. This move was intentionally designed to kill off the competition from a competing implementation. This sets the same precedent as Ethereum does.

A mutable protocol, actually works directly against the very definition of protocol. Protocols are meant to be secure, strict, and in agreement.

It is these back-room deals that Bitcoin was supposed to put an end to. Core did this, and ABC did this. It is for this reason, the protocol needs to be stable above all else. It would be wise for the Bitcoin ecosystem to collectively condemn any changes to the protocol for the benefit of a player in the ecosystem.

It is for this reason, that Satoshi Nakamoto openly stated that the design of Bitcoin should be locked. Only in the interest of bug fixes and critical issues should we consider major changes, and only after significant analysis, tests, data, and miner consensus. Why? Because this is the only chance Bitcoin has of surviving take-overs. It is for this reason, that among Satoshi’s early writings there exists this note: “the nature of Bitcoin is such that once version 0.1 was released the core design was set in stone for its lifetime”.

While nChain like any other company receives criticism for its mode of operation, it can without a doubt be categorically stated, that the company’s adherence to the original Bitcoin protocol implementation absolves it from any possibility of manipulating the protocol for illegitimate or unfair gain.

There can only be one legitimate protocol for Bitcoin: Satoshi’s implementation protocol (minus the bugs). The vast majority (not all) of everything else done in the name of changing the protocol has always been some entities’ self-serving need. This isn’t how protocols work.

It is for these reasons, that Bitcoin SV (BSV) remains the sole legitimate custodian of the Bitcoin title.

Today, this original protocol has gone head and shoulders above the competition in its scalability efforts. It is the only Bitcoin implementation, with a throughput capacity that far exceeds PayPal’s daily throughput, and is quickly establishing itself as a stable foundation in which to build business applications. This is a fact. The Bitcoin SV Scaling Test Network (with test results published on the website bitcoinscaling.io) has already proven that Bitcoin SV is capable of handling the highest throughput among all the major proof of work based competitors. (Recent test results showed 36 hours of continuous 128MB blocks which equate to well over 30 million transactions a day).

The original Bitcoin implementation was far more powerful than anyone had previously even guessed and some observers are beginning to take notice. Today BSV is building its Metanet (where the Bitcoin blockchain will subsume and power the Internet), it is completely capable of git like systems all on-chain. It allows for the construction of immutable applications, which serve as God-send to any developer… It enables business. No business will build on shaky, or mutable foundations. A fixed protocol that does not bend to the whims of crony organisations, creates an air of legitimacy, and removes risk.

The only legitimacy comes from a stable protocol for stable, sound money.

Eli Afram.
@justicemate

From the surveillance economy to the Metanet economy

Throughout the history of human civilization, leaders and governments have sought to collect data that would provide insight on citizens of a given nation or state. Occurrences of this method, known as the census, are peppered in past records. For example, we know that censuses are mentioned in biblical old testament times. We know the ancient Greeks did similar, as did the Chinese and Romans. India’s oldest recorded census occurred in 300 BC.

The level of detail, particularly in those times acquired by governing bodies was rather minimalistic. Sure, at times there were instances of outright abuse of the process, but in general, controversies were limited in their regional scope and nature.

As the world progressed through the ages, things started to slowly change. World governments became increasingly obsessed with surveillance. Snail mail would very regularly be intercepted, opened, and assessed. Perhaps not surprisingly, this method continues to occur today in many countries. Following Snowden’s revelations, the U.S. Postal Service acknowledged that it took photographs the front and back of all mail sent through the U.S.

But the digital age has blown the doors wide open. Now, we have gone far and well beyond the snooping of the odd piece of snail mail, and into the collation of every word that passes through a mail server, and every word you type into a search engine. In fact even every mouse movement on a webpage is tract. Your movements are indeed capable of creating your own signature.

The state may have its own strategy for surveillance in the digital age. But the power of surveillance has moved drastically from being a state sponsored operation, to an industry that thrives it. Certainly, industry giants like Google and Facebook are now in many regards as powerful, and in some regards, even more powerful than the state. Not only do they have good numbers on every ‘citizen’ of their software, but they have tireless algorithms sifting through volumes of data about you, identifying your every like, dislike, emotion, search, secrets, geographic movement, weekly routine and much, much more.

Enter the ‘Surveillance Economy’.

The surveillance economy gets its name for good reason. Your data is worth a lot of money. Particularly when sold in volume.

This is still a foreign concept to many, but perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this is this primitive example which many are familiar with:

How many times have you created a new email address, signed up to a couple of services online, only to find you are suddenly bombarded with countless junk that you never signed for, or let alone visited… It’s likely, your active email address was sold in bulk.

The rabbit hole goes much deeper than the spam email you may receive however. While you load up your favourite search engine online, you may be searching for something, but an algorithm in the back is recording and researching yourself in return. It is analysing your location, your routine, your favourite search terms, your likes, your illnesses and medical conditions, your compulsiveness and other behavioural traits… Indeed, you are the product.

Perhaps the most naive of us may think that it is lovely that the internet is full of so many fabulous free-to-use services. The unadulterated reality however is that nothing in life is free. For every service that you perceive free online, there is a cost. Your data is valuable, and there is a buyer out there.

Likewise, if ever you see a crypto-currency that claims to be completely free on transaction costs, be sure to scratch the surface. Such claims are a mere side-show and an intentional diversion. This is a red-herring.

This is why the original Bitcoin protocol also charges per transaction. A micro-cent. This is astonishingly small in isolation, but in volume, it creates an economy that rivals the enormity of the surveillance economy itself, and much much more.

Bitcoin is incredibly important in this entire paradigm. If the internet can somehow commercialise every operation, then the monetary value comes directly in a wealth of transactions and interactions.

Dr Craig Wright himself has been working on an invention to enable this paradigm shift. He calls it the ‘Metanet’. The revolutionary idea is backed by ground-breaking methods that enable it all to work. Bitcoin SV will now see a secure alternative to the Internet, built on the blockchain.

This new model is indeed ground breaking, but we are at the tip of an ice-berg. The new economy still needs to be built, and it will take time. But there is a direct commercial incentive for all of this to happen.

Every interaction comes with a cost. BSV’s Metanet is the realisation of this in its most direct form – money. In return, you are provided with legitimate privacy, quality data, and an ad-free experience.

Enter the Metanet Economy.

In some economic sense, Metanet is a natural state of the internet, free from the shackles of the surveillance economy. I say ‘natural’ because this would have been the logical, intended pathway of the internet, if only micropayments were easily doable and could be administered easily through a single yet decentralized system. Alas, the commerce world was not ready – not technologically anyhow.

nChain’s Dr Craig Wright likes to use Coca Cola’s ‘coke can’ as an example to demonstrate profits in volume. This is precisely how Bitcoin and Metanet work. Countless transactions of all kinds, and all genuinely tiny in fees, having very little impact on a user’s wallet, but in volume generating an abundance of revenue for miners and businesses, creating not just a self sustaining system, but an ever growing secure system.

The Bitcoin SV blockchain has already seen social media apps make their presence well known. We have Keyport for example which enables private messaging on the blockchain…

Metanet takes it a leap further… We can have email, search engines and even facebook on the blockchain, and to further illustrate the power of it all, Dr Wright has even stated that the internet itself can be made into a side-chain for BSV. By this statement, he points out the intent of making Bitcoin SV the global public ledger that underpins the bulk of internet activity.

As Bitcoin is capable of disrupting the financial industry, so too, metanet is capable of disrupting the surveillance economy, and the internet itself. Internet searches no longer need to be delivered with targeted advertising. But instead will be delivered with quality results that are incentivised directly with micro-cent transactions. Advertising models across the web would be overhauled. Supply chain logistics would be securely backed with transparency and clarity. Quality control takes an entirely new meaning…

Metanet is a big vision project. Like the Apollo missions, we don’t get anywhere by thinking small. The world is paved by big thinkers, visionaries, and builders. Reaching a big vision sometimes takes years, and sometimes decades. Bitcoin itself is now a decade long project that has run into its own share of hurdles.

But always look for small wins to culminate in the end goal. This is why nChain’s CEO stated “The Metanet will initially enhance, then eventually drive the Internet”.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

The split, and the future… Now we build

The split, and the future… Now we build

The following is reprinted with permission from the author, Eli Afram. This post was originally published on Yours.org, where content creators get paid for their work. Please visit Yours.org and support content creators.

I’ve gone silent on my thoughts… because like many of you, I have been devastated by the fallout of the split. We’ve seen friendships obliterated, people who once fought side-by-side during the big blocker campaign, now hurling insults at one another, an ecosystem of developers, and products, split into two. While exchanges remained loyal to ABC, much of the application development went with BSV.

And this split was much more frustrating than [Bitcoin BCH/Bitcoin Core (BTC)]. BCH was a liberation. The split with BCH/[Bitcoin SV (BSV)] is a failure of the community. Two factions presented opposing roadmaps. BSV developers wanted to lock down the protocol that they believe already works, is capable of scaling with some software improvements, and ABC wanted to keep building on it, and introduce new features including the upcoming preconsensus move called avalanche.

BOTH camps did not budge, and BOTH camps refused to compromise. nChain’s Dr Craig Wright is a controversial who has a knack for saying things that pisses everyone off. So controversial, that a large part of the eco-system sided with ABC for the mere fact that Wright was on the other team. We know who, because these same people rejected ABC’s CTOR [canonical transaction order rule] change in the beginning, but when push came to shove, sided with ABC. I guess many picked what they perceived as the lesser of the two evils… All this while ignoring the fundamental issue at hand – the software. Bitcoin… It became about the hatred of one man, that the software is overlooked.

Software is apolitical. No matter the coder, developer or head. In open source coding, the code is there, visible, usable, transparent. When we support an implementation because of a person, there is a problem.

But moving on;

Bitcoin.com and Bitmain sought to rent hashpower from BTC to immediately illustrate accumulated Proof of Work advantage. But it seems so fearful were they of Dr Wright’s taunts, that ABC implemented a series of changes, some of which were only known by a handful of people, to prevent any re-org attack. This secretive, back-door deal, is… by all accounts nothing short in likeness to deep state movements.

We talk about the greatness of open-source projects, but secretly make coding changes that only few are aware of. There is NOTHING open source about such movements. The move represented everything that Bitcoin stands against.

I for one was sickened the moment I learned of the checkpointing saga. On that day, admittedly my blood boiled. In part, I had accepted that ABC might win, and I was ok with that, but I was not ok with an ABC win that has forever tainted its project. On that day, I publicly tweeted that I now understood why Jihan Wu always said BitcoinCash is BitcoinCash and not Bitcoin because it supported the move of “implementing a centrally governed variable to destroy competition”. Not long after I deleted the post. Because again, I felt that this was a one-off and so be it… I may end up supporting ABC – I was open to it. I deleted it, but not before Jihan Wu responded [on Twitter] with the following:

“There are super crucial sensitive economics activities happened on the blockchain around the fork point. Keeping an exposure to 51% attack risks to your boss CSW is not an option of BCH community. Go away, build your BSV eco with Negative Gamma science. Leave BCH alone.”

Then ABC went forward and implemented a 10 block rolling checkpoint, and I began to regret ever deleting my original tweet. Messing with Proof of Work is NOT Bitcoin. Secret changes to something supposed to be “open source”, is NOT Bitcoin.

The 10 block reorg prevention mechanism heralded something new and for me, changed BitcoinCash [sic] forever. Firstly, the original checkpoint was something that infuriated me, but I was able to do some mental gymnastics to get over it. For example, the fact that Satoshi himself implemented checkpoints early on somehow makes it a little more valid… But even then, I have the following two points to make concerning it.

1. Are you Satoshi?

2. Are you Bootstrapping the project?

See we don’t talk about it often, but Satoshi, as the creator of the software is afforded a number of concessions on his actions. For example, he was the first sole miner… but nobody holds this against him. He implemented spam prevention methods and introduced temporary fees, and a block size limit, even though these went against the ultimate design of the system and so on. These were early bootstrapping moves. This includes checkpoints.

Bitcoin is passed that and using these methods to once again centralise control of the blockchain is a crime on Bitcoin. A crime in the metaphorical sense. I don’t support the lawsuit.

ABCs defense is that they made emergency changes to prevent an attack. The issue is that a group of people decided ahead of time who the threat is, making themselves judge, jury and executioner. This is problematic on a number of levels. It is no different to emergency laws imposed by a state in order to gain more control over a system. Think of the emergency laws instated by Turkey following [the] revolt against the presidency. Erdogan now has more power than we could have dreamed of. The Australian government itself is pushing for companies of apps like [Facebook] and WhatsApp to provide them with a backdoor to spy on messages… all in the name of combating terrorism.

The rolling checkpoint in my opinion changed Bitcoin Cash forever. You depart from a fundamental tenet of Bitcoin (the longest chain), and you have forfeited Bitcoin’s name.

I’ve in all sincerity made peace with BCH and ABC. But I accept it as Bitcoin Cash, and not as Bitcoin. This is [afterall] the wish of it’s [sic] lead developer Amaury Sechet and of the main financier Jihan Wu. I hold BCH, and will continue using it. But my love affair with calling it Bitcoin has come to an end, and I hope you can see why.

When Bitcoin Cash first forked, little did any of us know that Amaury Sechet was funded by Bitmain to create a specialised coin headed by ABC. Calvin [Ayre] and nChain started to call it Bitcoin, and they flew to meet Roger, and got him on-board to also call it Bitcoin. Bitcoin.com and Coingeek.com both posted sensational articles claiming BCH is Bitcoin. Much to Jihan’s anguish, who moved away from this rhetoric.

[Wu stated on Twitter], “America is not England. America is America. Bitcoin Cash is not Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin Cash.”

Amaury echoed similar sentiment…

Jihan Wu is not a bad person. In fact, I actually think he’s genuinely good. But my word, he got into a horrible pickle. He helped create Bitcoin Cash and probably saw it as his special project… but only to see an army of people come on-board and rename his project to Bitcoin, and claim other things about it. It’s very similar to Amaury’s position on calling it BCC… only to have exchanges settle on calling the ticker BCH. Amaury wanted the logo Orange, everyone else went for Green. Jihan would surely have felt himself losing grip of a pet project that he helped steer. I truly believe that if nChain had known of ABC’s plans and their immovable position, that they would have stuck with BTC and gone for their original move to attempt to block segwit… and perhaps this whole thing could have been avoided.

In the end there can only be one Bitcoin. That is the one that honours the founding vision, and locks the protocol to a workable and scaleable version of the original, within reason to ensure applications can be developed.

Why lock the protocol? Because if we don’t, we are literally heading for a forking nightmare. Keeping the protocol under constant feature development, not only moves away from Bitcoin’s fundamental protocol but will also undoubtedly bring contention time and time again over many features. Do you [really] think this is the last split?? No… Splits will remain a natural part of the cycle, as every time there is a disagreement between miners, they will split. The only way to prevent splits is to seek stability. Establish a protocol that works, and stick to it. Developers can build a plethora of on-chain applications – their job does not end.

I’ve slowly watched many rational minds become so fixated on their hatred of CSW that they themselves have turned into shells of their former selves. The incessant chants of “Cult of Craig” has in retrospect turned many into the church of hate. – Not that CSW doesn’t bring a lot of this on himself. His outbursts and behaviour on social media doesn’t bode well for him. But the pendulum has swung so far that it is bordering on fanaticism.

I used to defend CSW on injustices. When people attacked him as a person, I let it go as fair game, because he brings that upon himself. But when people made false accusations, I’d turn around and provide evidence to the contrary. But I’ve stopped doing that also… Simply because I’ve realised that people don’t care for the truth. Last year CSW was accused of plagiarising certain texts – only for it then to be uncovered that the pages he plagiarised were from a chapter that he actually originally authored. Then he supposedly plagiarised planetmaths – yet little did anyone know that he did reference the original source that planetmaths themselves took the piece from.

I’m no longer going to defend CSW on such things. Because this tirade is endless, and because nobody cares for the truth. This was evidenced in the plagiarism accusation where the accusation received countless comments and likes, but the truth of his authorship on the source material, got very little traction. Most people don’t care… but some do. Those that really want to seek, will do so of their own accord.

Jihan thinks I work for CSW – no doubt many do. CSW has never given me a dime. Nor do I work for Calvin either. I have a deep seated reason for this, but it comes down to me wanting to maintain my own voice. The moment I am paid, I am at the mercy of the financier. I’m far too opinionated to be a mouth piece.

There are many things CSW has said that I disagree with. His email to Roger was poor form. His cheering for the Lawsuit against Bitmain and co is something I don’t support either. I can say similar things about Coingeek… I certainly don’t agree with everything that Coingeek does and says… For all of the flaws I can count, none of it matters. Because nChain and Coingeek are the only two entities with the balls in the space that have shown they are willing to defend the original Bitcoin implementation. Seriously, nobody else is here defending Bitcoin.

Character traits, egos, and all the bullshit aside. This is about Bitcoin. This is about software, economics, and what works and what doesn’t. Bitcoin is what we all invested in. The whitepaper resonated with us and we saw value in it. Now every one wants their own pedestal, their own voice.

I am no longer going to write these pieces as regularly. For all of the work and unpaid effort that I put in to trying to spread awareness and be a voice in support, I watched it all get obliterated in a week. I on-boarded many merchants in Australia, and none of them now support BCH or BSV. Everything I have ever written seems to have been in vain, because in the end people will hear what they want to hear.

But this realisation has catapulted me into where i need to be. 2019 is the year we are going to build. No more talking, just building. I have projects I am working on that will truly show why Bitcoin is important. The blockchain that builds the most, and the blockchain with applications that serve companies, organisations and governments most, facilitating the most transactional requirements will win. We now build for real life use cases. Deliver on things that over a billion people want.

Some people are bitter with BSV because Calvin called it government friendly. This doesn’t mean what people think it means. Building an app for government use isn’t about the blockchain being government friendly. You can build your app however you want. Some will choose to support government needs, and some will choose not to. The blockchain is your platform to build on. If a government wishes to build on the blockchain, who are we to stop them? Isn’t censorship resistance all about allowing anyone to build? How much better would the world be today if we allowed transparent voting on the blockchain? Bitcoin will bring transparency and honesty and it will forever revolutionise the world. It’s time we support our miners… and build in all manners to generate traffic and support the infrastructure.

@justicemate

PS. To the countless BCH friends I’ve made along the way… including wtfkenneth, porlyb, maplesyrup, Peter R, Roger V, David, Hayden and many many more… I’m sorry – wish things could be different. But it’s for the best we work on our own projects now… and make global sound money a reality.

Nothing After Paywall. Do not pay.

Bitcoin BCH – The value proposition

Bitcoin BCH – The value proposition

To read in Chinese click here.

When Bitcoin split into two chains in August of 2017, it did so because the original roadmap for Bitcoin was hijacked, and there existed an economic pressure to see the fulfilment of the original vision. This economic pressure not only resulted in the rebirth of Bitcoin in BCH but was also the cause of the sudden increase in value among numerous cryptocurrencies, which we have collectively come to refer as “alt-coins.” The fact that BTC’s congested chain ‘helped’ the market cap of many of these alt-coins is rather difficult to dispute. Certainly, the timed correlation of events between BTC blocks ‘becoming full’ (therefore limiting BTC usage), and having transactional utility (and market cap) grow in alts cannot be overlooked.

Original Bitcoin doesn’t mean that we need to strip back a hundred thousand lines of code to go back to the original three thousand lines Satoshi had in his first release. It is the design concept. That is—simple, electronic cash.

I say simple because simplicity is a fundamental key to a secure, stable system. Every hardened software engineer with years of experience under their belt knows precisely what this means. Certainly, the vast majority of security researchers understand this. Complexity is no friend to security.

ABC’s controversial ordering change CTO, and subsequently, CoinGeek and nChain’s move to create a competing client designed to continue in the restoration of the original Satoshi implementation, have caused the Bitcoin BCH ecosystem to become divided.

Such division within a decentralized system is not only possible but bound to happen. And almost certainly, there will be many repeats of divisions of this nature.

Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com, recently pointed out this very fact during a live debate with Bitcoin Core’s Jimmy Song. The division within BCH is evidence that teams have to fight and invest to have their preferred client decide the rules of consensus. There is no leadership, and this is why the struggle is real. Amusingly in this very debate, we did see a very confident Jimmy Song who started out his debate by reading from a script, slowly become relegated into a mumbling mess by the end of it. I digress.

No matter what outcome in November, one team will get their way, and the other team, sadly, will not. But BCH development will continue. And assuredly, another challenge will come from another competing client at some point. There is a reason we call these “competing” clients. At some point, they intend to mount some challenge over the code.

Locking down the protocol

CoinGeek and friends have already stated that they wish to “lock down the protocol.” This has received some mixed, some positive, and some violent opposition. I want to address the meaning behind this statement, and the motivation.

Firstly, let’s do away with the rumours. Locking down the protocol translates to a desire for a stable protocol that does not change at the whim of every developer. It does not in any way, mean that the protocol must not change under any circumstance. Such a move would be very foolish.

So what changes are welcome?

Two words: risks & opportunities. Over time, coders, testers, and well-meaning individuals may very well find and disclose vulnerabilities. Depending on the criticality of an issue, a change may be executed rather quickly.

Opportunities on the other hand need to be evaluated more critically. Unlike risks, opportunities do not present a ‘ticking time-bomb,’ and can afford the luxury of considerable time, research and testing.

Stability of code is mightily important when dealing with security. In fact, numerous studies have already confirmed the long-suspected correlation between complexity and security reduction.

CoinGeek is not closed to protocol improving opportunities. But CoinGeek does believe in employing stringent measures on any change that is not deemed a fix to an underlying vulnerability. These stringent measures involve questions such as:

  • Can the current suite of opcodes achieve the same desired output?
  • Does the function proposed affect the cash use case in any way?
  • Does the function affect the network topology?
  • Does the function affect the inbuilt incentives of the system?
  • Can we achieve a similar function safely in any other way?

These are some of the questions that CoinGeek would like to see sufficiently addressed before considering opportune changes to protocol. Further, there needs to be a substantial benefit without introducing any risk.

Why these measures?

nChain’s Dr. Wright, stating that the protocol needs to be stable isn’t some misplaced comment. It is a sound, research-backed position that a vast majority of security researchers agree with.

Bruce Schneier, a respected cryptographer and security researcher, who’s written volumes of information on the subject, concludes: “complexity is the worst enemy of security.”

The bigger a program, the bigger the attack surface. At least, that’s how the correlated graph goes. There are a number of reasons for this. A research paper from McCabe titled “More Complex = Less Secure: Miss a Test Path and You Could Get Hacked” lists the following points as key reasons:

  • Complex systems have more lines of code and therefore security bugs.
  • Complex systems have more interactions and therefore more security bugs.
  • Complex systems are harder to test and therefore, more likely to have untested portions.
  • Complex systems are harder to design securely, implement securely, configure securely and use securely.
  • Complex systems are harder for users to understand.

This is actually a key reason why Ethereum has suffered so many hacks, from the DAO hack (which resulted in the theft of 15% of all Ether in circulation at the time) to the parity freeze which saw half a million Eth frozen. Ethereum sure is powerful… It is Turing complete, enables us to create practically any application on-chain, but also has drawbacks in scalability, usability, and importantly, security.

Bitcoin has over 100,000 lines of code. Ethereum on the other hand has well over a million lines of code. Given the complex architecture of, not just Ethereum itself, but of the smart contracts built on top of it, it is no wonder that Ethereum’s strength, is also its weakness.

In a post titled ‘A Plea for Simplicity’ Schneier once wrote:

“We’ve seen security bugs in almost everything: operating systems, applications programs, network hardware and software, and security products themselves. This is a direct result of the complexity of these systems. The more complex a system is–the more options it has, the more functionality it has, the more interfaces it has, the more interactions it has–the harder it is to analyse. Everything is more complicated: the specification, the design, the implementation, the use. And everything is relevant to security analysis.”

Many developers overlook the significant importance of testing. Many will test various functions, and run simulations across a range of inputs. Rarely is every path tested. And rarely do some testers ever even look at binary analysis.

Every opcode we add over time results in an increased complexity. This in no way shutting down future opportunities for improvement. And CoinGeek may choose to welcome profoundly opportune changes that can catapult BCH utility. But CoinGeek and friends choose to err on the side of caution.

Let it be re-stated that locking down the protocol does not equate to never touching the protocol again. Moreover, in a decentralized environment where at any point a new miner can take the lead, consensus over the protocol can change at any point.

The killer-app

It’s easy to become excited and consumed by the latest gadget or idea that we often lose sight of the forest for the trees. Bitcoin is the only Proof of Work based cryptocurrency that can scale to global adoption, and it has the community and the drive to do so. The killer-app is money, and CoinGeek seeks to propel BCH to become not only the most dominant crypto-currency in the market but also become world-wide global cash.

CoinGeek’s position on seeking a stable protocol may upset some people, but the position is backed by studies and by some of the most well-respected security researchers. Bitcoin Satoshi Vision intends to resurrect original Bitcoin, uncapped, with all opcodes enabled. This move isn’t scary, nor is it dangerous. It is in fact, the original value proposition of Bitcoin. CoinGeek supports the roadmap that first seeks to restore the original implementation first and foremost, before making considerations for other changes.

We believe that in order to become global money and see BCH reach global adoption, we need to prove that the platform is indeed stable and that businesses can ‘trust’ that protocol development will not impede their actions. BTC has a history of tampering with the code in a manner that kills business. Consistency is important, stability is important, and the electronic cash use case comes first.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

coinex-misleading-statement-bitcoin-cash-fork

CoinEx produces a confusing and misleading statement about supposed Bitcoin Cash fork

Yesterday morning, CoinEx, a company whose CEO, Haipo Yang of ViaBTC, supports Bitmain on the ABC stance, issued the following statement concerning the Bitcoin Cash hard fork in November:

The statement has caused confusion among investors, who were otherwise led to believe by Bitcoin SV supporting teams that the competing client would not produce a split.

nChain and CoinGeek, two of the biggest mining backers of the Bitcoin SV client, categorically deny any willingness or attempt to create an alternate fork chain, and will instead be competing over Bitcoin BCH directly, by the very definition of ‘Nakamoto consensus’. That is, the consensus mechanism inherently built into Bitcoin, as referenced in the founding whitepaper.

CoinGeek has noted a number of factually incorrect statements and issues the following responses:

“Bitcoin-SV (BSV) is the altered version of Bitcoin Cash protocols.”

This point is blatantly false. CoinGeek would like to request from CoinEx, a definition of ‘Bitcoin Cash protocols’. By implying that Bitcoin SV introduces an altered set of protocols, then by definition, so does ABC with their November hard-fork. Any upgrade would be effectively doing this.

Interestingly, ABC lead dev also made a remark in similar vain, stating the following:

We are therefore led to believe the only possible explanation to this statement is that CoinEx believes that ABC holds literal ownership of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) brand.

This is not too dissimilar to a time in 2015, when Bitcoin XT, a competing client to the ‘BitcoinCore’ client was incorrectly labelled an alt-coin. Despite being an optional fork of the client with slightly different network protocols, Bitcoin XT was misleadingly branded an alt-coin on all BitcoinCore backed websites and forums. We fear the implication here is similar.

The next point on CoinEx’s statement follows on:

“BSV is likely to bring a potential fork of Bitcoin Cash by causing incompatibility with Bitcoin Cash network and therefore create a new cryptocurrency asset – Bitcoin-SV (Token: BSV)”

If Nakamoto consensus rules that Bitcoin SV is the dominant client, then there is no “incompatibility”. In fact in such a scenario, the only incompatibility will come from non Bitcoin SV compliant nodes in that case, which would mean ABC in this case.

Fundamentally it is premature to specify which client is “incompatible” and which client will be majority or minority. Nakamoto consensus determines this, not exchanges. Bitcoin is not democratic. The vote isn’t 1 vote per person, but 1 vote per CPU (hash).

In response to the statement, CEO of nChain Group, Jimmy Nguyen makes the key point that “Bitcoin SV is not intending nor trying to fork off from Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin SV is not intending to create a new coin or token. Instead, as stated in its announcement, Bitcoin SV is a professionally-driven implementation of the Bitcoin full node software for use on BCH, and is intended to provide a clear BCH implementation choice for miners who support Bitcoin’s original vision. Bitcoin SV intends to compete for miners’ votes (under Nakamoto consensus) to be the winning BCH chain”.

It is worth also noting, that recently, yet another team announced a new BCH implementation, like Bitcoin SV, it intends to fulfill the original Satoshi vision. This is called “Protocol Client” and its github repository can be found here:

CoinEx has made no mention of “Protocol Client” however, despite this being another client with different rules.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Beating Bitcoin’s 0 confirmation payments ain’t so easy

Beating Bitcoin’s 0 confirmation payments ain’t so easy

Satoshi Nakamoto wrote about the idea, and, theoretically it made a lot of sense. In questions concerning the need for a fast payment (the snack machine problem), Satoshi mentioned the following in mid-2010:


I believe it’ll be possible for a payment processing company to provide as a service the rapid distribution of transactions with good-enough checking in something like 10 seconds or less.

The network nodes only accept the first version of a transaction they receive to incorporate into the block they’re trying to generate. When you broadcast a transaction, if someone else broadcasts a double-spend at the same time, it’s a race to propagate to the most nodes first. If one has a slight head start, it’ll geometrically spread through the network faster and get most of the nodes.
A rough back-of-the-envelope example:
1 0
4 1
16 4
64 16
80% 20%

So if a double-spend has to wait even a second, it has a huge disadvantage.

The payment processor has connections with many nodes. When it gets a transaction, it blasts it out, and at the same time monitors the network for double-spends. If it receives a double-spend on any of its many listening nodes, then it alerts that the transaction is bad. A double-spent transaction wouldn’t get very far without one of the listeners hearing it. The double-spender would have to wait until the listening phase is over, but by then, the payment processor’s broadcast has reached most nodes, or is so far ahead in propagating that the double-spender has no hope of grabbing a significant percentage of the remaining nodes.


A few points to note in the above. What may have required 10 seconds back in 2010, now requires less than 3 seconds. Dr Craig Wright states that by checking just 8 nodes, you get the 99.9999% assurance that your transaction will be included within the next block.

So when Core developer Peter Todd fought hard to implement “Replace By Fee” (an algorithm which enabled users to double spend, forcing merchants to wait for a confirmation) on the BTC chain, he did so without any testing or statistical analysis on just how easy it is to do fraud proofs.

Dr Craig Wright states that “fraud proofs and nowhere near as difficult as anyone thinks… the solution is incredibly simple. All you need to do is randomly select a series of nodes on the network and query whether the inclusion of your transaction has occurred on that node. Each query would be random. Using a simple Bayesian algorithm, we could use a failure model to analyse the likelihood of a double spend or other attack… In under two seconds 99.98% of the hashpower would have received your transaction.”

This means that, without the cap, you can be assured of zero confirmation transactions in minimum amount of time.

Sure, this is probabilistic, but every security system works on probabilistic information. “so-called experts of Bitcoin fail to comprehend that strong encryption is [in itself] probabilistic”.

The next point to note with Satoshi’s comment is the term “good enough”.

Ravi Sandu of George Mason University and SingleSignOn.net states the following:


Good enough is good enough.
Good enough always beats perfect.
The really hard part is determining what is good enough.

The first principle is a vacuous tautology, but one that the technical security community (myself included) forgets too easily. The second principle is amply supported by strong empirical evidence in all aspects of information technology. Its application to our field is further amplified because there is no such thing as “perfect” in security. We might thus restate it as the nearly tautological, “Good enough always beats ‘better but imperfect’.”


With Bitcoin Cash, the removal of the cap and the merchant hostile RBF (replace by fee), the online eco-system has now flocked back to embrace the original vision of Bitcoin (BCH) once again.

But this has not stopped a large vocal group of online keyboard warriors spreading fear and ‘concern’ over 0-confirmation payments.

But what better way to fight fake propaganda than by issuing a direct challenge?

Arian Kuqi, Co-founder of Cryptonize.it issued this very challenge to the community, and particularly to those screaming loudest in condemnation of 0-confirmation payments. He says “it started about a month ago, I noticed a lot of comments and posts about 0-conf and how it’s nat safe to use. It’s understandable, people are stuck in their head with BTC problems and think the same goes for BCH”.

The challenge is simple…  If you can double spend, then you should be able to pay $2000, and then immediately re-spend the money by paying it back to yourself. In return, you would have earned yourself a free $1000 bucks (voucher exchangeable for BTC).

That was a month ago, and to date, there are no prize collectors.

But we did have a buyer of the $1000 voucher for which a user paid $2000… transaction log is here. And Arian Kuqi was quick to post about it.

And so Cryptonize.it was up 1000 bucks that day. More importantly, it’s proof in itself, that Bitcoin Cash cannot be double spent at 0 confirmations. Not without significant investment anyhow.

Arian has mentioned that he’ll have many more of these challenges coming up in the near future. After all, it is no loss to him… As for any ‘attacker’, Arian promises that it’s fair game if they do succeed. “I announced that I would not press charges or block the card at Amazon if the double spend succeeded, so no risk there for the attacker. Same goes for the coming challenges.”

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 is finally released with full Segwit support

It’s been a long time coming, but last week, Bitcoin Core, the development team responsible for the Segwit fork of Bitcoin, finally released an update to their client, featuring full support for Segregated Witness.

In short Segregated Witness was touted as a scalability fix in itself, but as BTC found heavy usage during the 2017 run to its ATH (all-time-high), fees shot up to astronomical heights, and congestion levels reached unprecedented levels, forcing users to wait up to and over a week at times for transactions to confirm. The aftermath of which gives strong evidence for a false news media campaign concerning the scalability capability of Segwit.

However, Segwit’s true capacity increase which is only expected to provide a mere 1.7-1.8MB on average effective blocksize (or, 5-6 transactions per second throughput), will be made apparent only when the vast majority of the eco-system adopts ‘Segwit’ transactions.

Because of the way Segwit was introduced as a soft-fork, it allows Bitcoin legacy transactions, while incentivising the newer ‘Segwit’ transaction format. Thereby, encouraging users and businesses to switch to Segwit transactions, over time. As more and more wallets, exchanges, and businesses adopt Segwit, the blockchain slowly finds itself migrating over to “Segregated Witness” addresses and transactions, abandoning the original Bitcoin transaction format as laid out in the Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper of 2008.

While many adherents to the ‘Core’ faith have been loud in the condemnation of entities like ‘Coinbase’, for whom it took 6+ months to implement Segwit, it ought to be equally observed, that Core themselves, have taken just as long to release full native support for Segwit in their own client.

It is most pivotal that Core released this as soon as possible given that so much of the rest of the eco-system is depending on them to move first. Take for example, the major exchange Kraken, which tweeted the following:

Sounds reasonable.

Certainly, the Segwit soft-fork will now have its engine roaring a little louder, as evidenced by the below graph illustrating the rising number of Segwit transactions over-time (particularly since Coinbase and Core announced support). Take note of the rise from block number 511075 (27th of Feb 2018) onwards.

Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 is finally released with full Segwit support.
source: Segwit.party

As ascertained above, at 6+ months following the activation of Segwit on the BTC chain, the adoption rate for Segwit transaction still sits at only marginally over 30%. In order for the new capacity limits of 5-6 transactions per second to be realised, it requires near universal adoption of Segwit.

What does ‘Native Support for Segwit’ mean?

Upgrading to support Segwit transactions can be a technically tedious task, hence why many businesses have been waiting on Core to move first with their client, which in turn makes implementation a little easier for everyone else. A large part of the BTC eco-system already supports Segwit transactions, although this is done in a non-native, backward compatible manner.

The way non-native Segwit addresses work, is that they use former lead developer Gavin Andresen’s P2SH (pay-to-script-hash), which always start with a “3” instead of a “1”. Because the Bitcoin client already accepts P2SH, using it for Segwit in an effort to on-ramp usage quickly, made sense. But it has many drawbacks.

Using Segwit through P2SH is inefficient, and wastes in the mempool, and it therefore can contribute to rising fees. Native Segwit addresses are known as bech32 addresses, and they start with “bc1”. Native use of Segwit works a little more directly and more efficiently as bech32 has no non-witness SigScript (Signature Script).

However, because native Segwit addresses are a new bech32 format and “look different”, older wallets do not recognise them, and users that don’t upgrade such wallets won’t be able to send to these addresses.

What else comes with “Bitcoin Core 0.16”

Segwit Wallets aside, two very notable changes are:

– HD Wallets are the default! HD Wallets (Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets) are type of wallet that changes address every time it is used for receiving funds. HD wallets have been used for quite a while now, and all major wallets utilise this functionality.
– The highly controversial RBF is default in the GUI. Core’s “Replace By Fee” feature is now on by default.

There are a host of other changes introduced, most which will make little impact to the end user. For a full list of changes, check out the release notes.

Eli Afram
@justicemate

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.