[cryptography] Define Privacy

ianG iang at iang.org
Sun Oct 26 06:35:31 EDT 2014

On 22/10/2014 03:22 am, Jason Iannone wrote:
> On a fundamental level I wonder why privacy is important and why we
> should care about it.

Financial privacy is all about theft.  If someone knows where the money
is, it can be stolen.  It works statistically, in that the set of
attackers is typically not well known, so people tend to habitualise
financial privacy.

There would be some who would say this isn't required today, but this is
just sophistry.  The wealth-stealing attack is as pervasive today as it
was thousands of years ago.  One inside complaint about for example AML
is that it is a setup for theft, and there are plenty of cases which
bear that out.  I.e., now that wealth can be measured via pervasive
financial monitoring and now that the principle of consolidated revenue
has been breached, the police are incentivised to become the attacker.
Because they get to share in the proceeds.  C.f., recent reports that
foreigners are being warned not to carry cash in USA because police
steal it.

Financial privacy isn't universal.  In my work in Kenya I discovered
that it is somewhat reversed, groups come together and share their
financial information as a defence against other attackers.  I speculate
that this may be helped by the fact that most of their wealth is
observable at a close distance by their close community.

One can get into trouble mixing financial privacy with other forms of
privacy.  The conversation gets tortured.  A system to protect money
might provide for split keys, which results in less 'privacy' but more
security.  As security of money is the number 1 goal of any money
system, other forms of privacy might be compromisable, it isn't an absolute.

This philosophical flaw might be levelled at Digicash which placed the
blinding formula on a pedestal, and we can note the irony of financial
privacy with Bitcoin.


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