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Blackballed by PayPal, Sci-Hub switches to Bitcoin (coindesk.com)
716 points by ur-whale 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 280 comments



I've also been cut off from most of the traditional banking for most of my professional life, and my only crime was being born in Venezuela.

Yes, I know Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren't being used by everyone. Yes, I'm aware of the risks and the costs. But it's still a huge boon as crypto allowed me to transact at all when it was physically unfeasible to do so.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until such reality changes: most people who disregard cryptocurrency as just a fad can afford to think that way. Their needs are served by traditional banking, and that's fine! But it's not the reality for an important amount of people who are unbanked for whatever reason: their past, their actions (whether moral things considered illegal and thus they're prosecuted, or legal things that society consider immoral and thus they're censored) or even just a geographical accident.


I think it's a reasonable solution at the margins as long as the situtation in countries like Venezuela is as bad as it is. I don't think many people dispute that.

But as a solution for the institutional failures it still is not a replacement and obviously the solution in Venezuela needs to be repairing the system.

Same with Sci-Hub in this case. The Bitcoin donations alleviate financial pressure somewhat, but of course the lawsuits and IP-infringement will still haunt everyone involved.


This sort of "Once we've made everything perfect" reasoning doesn't really reflect reality all that much though; the point is that centralized systems will always be vulnerable to these problems; even if we temporarily fix them, that'll be an exception and sooner or later the systems will fall back into their broken state.

From that premise that the probem is universal, the deduction that the solution is also not just a temporary fix seems like the only reasonably conclusiont to me.

I'm not completely sure whether you're arguing that the bitcoin hype will pass once we've sorted out a few problems, or just that it'd be a nicer world if that could ever be the case; but either way, I don't think cryptocurrencies should be a last resort but instead become the norm. Offense is the best defense, after all.


I would argue that centralization is inherent in most humans instincts. To put it another way, many people like having a leader.

In fact people like leaders so much that exposed to a capricious and cruel world they'll invent imaginary and often cruel ones just to give the world a sense of order. Think the old testament God or lizard people conspiracy theories.

Given we're going to huge groups of people running around following leaders I think our best effort is spent trying to make the selection of those leaders pick non-evil people who run vaguely meritocratic and fair systems. Rather than trying to engineer ideal de-centralized systems _which will also have to be robust against the mob following their evil leaders.

Obviously this is a false dichotomy and we can do both, but please don't give up on good leadership, people need it and there's plenty of examples of it exiting.


This causes such a problem with governance though: Instead of voting for (or contributing to) ideas/policies directly, you have to translate your preference into a selection/ranking of the people who sound like they might support the ideas that you would like to see in your democracy. Sounds like a pretty crappy codec for that kind of signal tbh.


I would go even further in your argument and say that the escape-hatches are a requirement to keep the centralized system in check. This is a bit like the free market argument in the sense that it creates competition.


The point that you're missing is that there will always be Venezuelas and Zimbabwes, and Bitcoin, in its current form, serves as a baseline financial system that unfortunate citizens of failing states can fall back on. It has plenty of issues when it comes to buying coffee and small transactions, but perfect is the enemy of good and it has properties that make it much harder to censor than USD based services, which will just comply with the state.


I often hear the argument that BitCoin is unsuitable for small transactions. That's certainly the case (at least in recent years).

What I don't understand is why people don't then just use one of the literally thousands of other currencies -- most of which handle small transactions just fine.

For small transfers I use DogeCoin and the fee is 0.2 cents.


Bitcoin isn't so bad fees wise. https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/fee-calculator/ is showing 3c if you will wait 8 hrs or 72c for 40 min. It has other problems as a practical payment mechanism though - lots of people don't take it, it's always kind of slow, you have to have your passport scanned and pay fees to convert it to fiat etc. Some of those apply to other crypto too.


Bitcoin for me is a "savings account". The tx fee is certainly important, but more important is the long term value appreciation. I have changed btc to other cryptos to spend them, so I pay less fees, but Im not holding other cryptos long term.


a savings account that loses 50% of its value in a matter of days?

If anything, the crash last March has proven that BTC is not a safe asset and not immune from a global financial meltdown. Other way around - its very sensitive to it actually.


It's very volatile but usually you don't touch a savings account regularly so it doesn't matter what it does day to day, only long term.


It seems like the whole meaning of "savings account" has been lost in one generation..

In the old days, the very point of a savings account is that it keeps the value stable, and pays interest on top. The more long term you save, the higher the interest. Compounded.


In some European countries, your money on the bank was taken by the government due to the crisis. It's a bit worse than ups and downs in bitcoin, where you have a chance to get it back.


Yeah, that whole thing doesn't exist for my generation. We've never had savings accounts that beat inflation in our lifetime.


Savings accounts aren't meant to beat inflation.


> But as a solution for the institutional failures it still is not a replacement and obviously the solution in Venezuela needs to be repairing the system.

The point you seems to be missing, that the system cannot be repaired in a day and people need to eat, while they doing the repair.


> the lawsuits and IP-infringement will still haunt everyone involved.

I suspect donations are used mostly to keep the lights on.


It doesn't address the problem of Venezuela at scale: the initial distribution problem. If you trade BTC for Bolivars between people in Venezuela then the total number of Bolivars, hence welfare within the system, remains unchanged. If you trade Bolivars for things outside, you can trade outside the country, and are better off with literally anything you can get outside the country.

I don't doubt for a small handful of people who got their hands on some BTC they individually are better off. That doesn't change the fact it's not a reasonable solution at scale.


> But as a solution for the institutional failures it still is not a replacement

I don't think one can call PayPal an institution. As for an ability to transact - I don't see why shouldn't we replace institutions that prevent us from transacting.

Failing business models of Elsevier and likes are a problem of their shareholders. I, personally, want them crushed.


Also consider using a stable coin like DAI, USDC etc if your use case is to mimick somewhat of a bank account without crazy volatility.


They’re a scam. They have no real reserve.


> I think it's a reasonable solution at the margins

Reasonable solutions at the margins tend to be adapted in some major way by the masses in time, like bottleneck microstates can end up driving steady state long term behaviors of systems in glassy dynamics… technical solutions to make lawsuits and IP-infrignment have no teeth are being adopted more everyday but not as fast as some would like.


I think cryptocurrency is great as a currency. I think it was stupid as speculation or investment.

Digital money is awesome, it being taken over by so many carpetbaggers is not.

I’m looking forward to bitcoin having a stable value for a few years, any value.


Bitcoin has really settled down in terms of price swings over the last year. It did have a major covid crash, but aside from that it's been very stable for the past year.

Keep in mind that the price moves also attract attention, and act as a sort of advertisement of its existence. It wouldn't get any mainstream coverage without the price moves.


> Bitcoin has really settled down in terms of price swings over the last year. It did have a major covid crash, but aside from that it's been very stable for the past year.

lol what? It went from $7000 to $10500 to $4000 to $10400... Blame it on covid if you want but the whole year has been this violent zigzag


Yep, from the point of stability that sucks obviously; there are stablecoins though. I still like BTC as a speculator (and I know it's almost nothing more than gambling, but considering coin tossing, dart throwing or monkeys outperform professional stock investors/fund managers (at least there are a ton of articles saying that), it all sounds like gambling), I create a nice living wage doing nothing at all but clicking buy/sell a few times a year. And that is only running on profits (so all money I 'invest' is profits made with btc alone) from when I bought a stack of btc end of 2016 because something seemed to be happening and by golly it was. As long as it works, it works.

Good or bad; whatever works... It's a nice extra on top of my day job.


that’s at least all in the same order of magnitude! only a couple years ago it was swinging much more wildly than that


But it has nothing on the established fiat currencies, where a >10% change in a year is (rightly) considered a major event

Consider USD/EUR. In 2015 it was 0.9, and currently it's 0.89. It's peak and low was 0.96 and 0.8. That a 10% bandwidth around a stable average.


Over the past year the DAI token on Ethereum has tracked the US dollar better than that, without requiring anyone to hold collateral off-chain.

https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/multi-collateral-dai/


Pegging your currency to another currency and claiming it's more stable is cheating and doesn't really solve the problem.

Like the US can stop PayPal from providing financial services, they can too stop banks from storing USD collateral to such parties.

Also I don't agree with your "tracked better than that" claim: DAI/USD has a 15% drop and increase in a few months, about the same as USD/EUR in 5 years.


DAI is not backed by Usd collateral, the collateral is a basket of other crypto currencies.


It’s definitely better this year, but I don’t want my currency to fluctuate 10%.


On what time scale? Currencies fluctuate 10% all the time over a year.


BitCoin has fluctuated much more than 10% in the last year though: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=XBT&to=USD&view=1Y

Certainly much more than USD/EUR: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=USD&view=1Y


A typical volatility index measure like VIX( EVZ ?) could be good reference , there are few VIxes which look bitcoin as priced in USD


10% is an underestimate. BTC fluctuates by 50% or more.


Sure tell that to the Zimbabwe dollar, the South African Rand.. the Yen, etc. This is an ideal that doesn't exist in practise for all but a small handful of actual currencies.


I think that supports my point though right. Does anyone think the Zimbabwe dollar is a good currency? I think few choose to use it.


It’s hardly a choice for its country’s people. Governments in developing countries are very big bullies.


I bought bitcoin first time when it was below $10. Happy to be stupid and have those thousand percent gains.


Early Ethereum buyer checking in.

Although, most of my holdings are now BTC & XMR.

XMR or Monero, is the best cryptocurrency IMO.

Ledger is totally opaque. Actually works like cash.


> Early Ethereum buyer checking in.

Hopeful about ETH tokens rising in value soon? ETH 2.0 is coming later this year, which may shake things up one way or another.


I don't know, I'm a little worried about 2.0 as they've delayed it for so long.


Ledger is totally opaque? Maybe I'm confused, but opaque means not transparent. Surely you'd want the opposite?


Transparent means people can tell how much money you have, how long you've had it, where you got it from, and where you send it. An opaque chain means outside observers can't really do that. If people have the private key, of course they can, or if they have view keys they can. The the chain is verifiable even while being opaque thanks to the beauty of mathematics.


What ledger is used for tracking cash?


Of course, that’s reasonable that you would be happy with your luck.

Buying lotto tickets is irrational as well, but the winners are happy. Some speculators end up ok.

As much value has been lost by bitcoin as created (ie, someone bought at $20k and lost at $10k, etc).

I’m glad you made a ton of cash, I hope you can retire. But this volatility is really bad for currency.


Enough people sunk their whole live savings and then some into this. They are less happy than you are.


Sinking your whole life savings into something is stupid and it's peoples own fault if they do so and lose everything.


Sunk half my life savings in at $16, then doubled down and sunk the rest in when it dropped to $3.

Have now bought a house each for pretty much all my close friends and family members.


Couldn't a gambler say exactly the same thing?


With gambling the winners is very, very small minority. With bitcoin/crypto practically all people who got in before 2017 have been doing very, very well.


Usually, no.


With any financial instruments there are those for who it is a worse deal than alternative. With Bitcoin you have great volatility, but it has been mostly upwards. If you have made loss you are probably minority of the user/investor base.

For example, the current ATH was nearly $20k, and the current price is $9k. If you were unlucky enough to buy at ATH, you are down to 40%. Thats still not that bad situation - for example with stocks it is easy to find bets where you lose 90%.


> bitcoin having a stable value for a few years, any value

It will still be "that" lottery.

In its current form every major crypto has been "promoted" as "be the first one to get onto my crypto bandwagon and this will make you rich".

And that will also make sure something like this BBC programme - Missing Crypto Queen - keeps on repeating.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07nkd84


Eh, bitcoin isn't really "great" currency. It has some pretty poor properties as currency. Now I understand it's better than nothing. You want currency to slowly lose value. If it goes up in value, than it make no sense to exchange it for goods and services, which is the whole point. Wild fluctuations in price also cause massive headaches.


Why not stablecoins (like DAI/USDC/PAX)? All (but one) benefits of bitcoin and none of the price fluctuations.


I personally prefer not to use fiat currency, because I prefer my purchasing power to go up. Thats why I say no to stablecoins.


You'd think that Venezuela would have provided incredibly fertile ground for bitcoin usage to go mainstream.

But what actually happened is good old fashioned dollarization. U.S. dollar banknotes flooded into the country. As for digital payments, Venezuelans have repurposed Zelle, the U.S-based person-to-person payments option, to make digital U.S. dollar payments.


I was under the impression that bitcoin trading volume has been increasing steadily in Venezuela.

https://coin.dance/volume/localbitcoins/VES


It is important to look at the axis and see there is no major growth right now it is floating around at 500 BTC per week which is about 4 million usd or approximately zero. This transaction volume is a rounding error for a country of that size


Yes, it is. My understanding is that some people use bitcoin as a bridge for remitting funds into Venezuela.

But this is a niche usage. What locals really want are dollars. Something like 50-60% of all Venezuelan transactions are now being conducted with U.S. paper money and Zelle.


It's true, most transactions that involve USD are done with paper money in Venezuela (which is why I mentioned I used BTC when it wasn't physically feasible to transact because coming by such paper money is not straightforward) but when it comes to electronic solutions it's a constant cat-and-mouse game. You mention Zelle which was up until very recently [0] the most used option, but people are now seeking alternatives- cryptocurrency just being one of them- and I ought to clarify that not everybody has a trusty acquaintance/family member with an US-based bank account (or a bank account themselves) to use these solutions.

[0] https://www.archyde.com/wells-fargo-eliminates-access-to-zel...


I wonder how hard it would be for a bank to try to become nationally available by explicitly serving the people (firearms manufacturers, pornographers, and immigrants from high-risk countries, among others) who are inappropriately mischaracterized as “high risk” despite having good books.


> I wonder how hard it would be for a bank to try to become nationally available by explicitly serving the people (firearms manufacturers, pornographers, and immigrants from high-risk countries, among others) who are inappropriately mischaracterized as “high risk” despite having good books.

Very.

Operation chokepoint essentially blackballed every single one of those Industries, and some credit unions tried to get a Charter from the Federal Reserve, and were essentially 'choked in the crib' when they attempted to.

Look up the story of 4 corners credit union, $100ks were wasted trying to appease the regulators to help members of the Cannabis Industry. Some eventually got other banks to participate, but it was still, and likely always will be what I always referred to as 'bank account whack-a-mole' where several accounts are shut down and have 2-3 to serve as backups when they eventually get shutdown.

This happened to a local dispensary owner, whose son is actually a Lightening Network developer and was able to route around it. Adoption was less than ideal, but it proved a point that the tech is mature enough to take on financial censorship if/when the will exists.


For whatever it's worth, the problem with the cannabis industry is that they are still committing federal crimes, there is a legitimate reason for banks to shy away from cannabis manufacturers, processors, and retailers even if they would have an ordinary risk profile under other circumstances.

The federal government does not enforce the law sufficiently to motivate its repeal, so we are stuck in limbo, where the mass of individuals are complacent, and they externalize the costs on the suppliers and retailers.


> For whatever it's worth, the problem with the cannabis industry is that they are still committing federal crimes,

I'm well aware of what that entails in a legal sense, I worked in the Industry as both a former Farmer as well as a Fintech Founder; the thing is, Cannabis is a term that encompasses Industrial Hemp as well as MJ and the former is actually 50 State legal as of 2018 with the Farm Bill in the US.

And still many Banks refuse to deal with Hemp farmers or producers of its value added products (CBD/CBG/CBN etc...) and still treat it as if its MJ for reasons only known to them as many large retailers like 24 Hour fitness, Sprouts, and even some Safeways and many Gas stations have CBD products on hand. It could be a scale thing, where losing that large of a customer with immense volume is worth it, whereas a small retailer is not and carries too much risk.

Also, consider that the legal status still doesn't mean the banking Industry will accept them with open arms, Canada still has the same issues they always had when it came to financial services and banking where MJ has been legalized Nationwide.


Legitimate federally licensed firearms manufacturers have access to the same financial services as any regular business.


Explain that to the Obama adminstration, which ran a program called Operation Choke Point, that lumped firearms in with multi-level marketing and payday loans as "high risk" transactions and repeatedly issued informal - sometimes just verbal - guidelines to banks to not handle such transactions.


In my experience, there are a lot of cryptocurrency detractors that don't understand that the crux of their stance is essentially privilege.


Access to a computer and internet is also a privilege. Good luck using bitcoin without these.


You would be surprised, but I am willing to bet that to have access to those is way more common that to live in a country with a sane and stable economy.


Any currency can be used as a parallel currency. Cryptocurrency doesn't have a monopoly on that. Usually people just use dollars when their native currency is worthless.


Sure, good luck using dollars without any banking services. The dollars are so safe under your pillow. Especially since the country is so stable and nice and criminals are so nonexistent. Very good plan.


In practice it's exactly what happens.

Bitcoin volume in Venezuela today is a rounding error. But most of the country is using physical USD to transact.

Crypto still has not solved two key problems, volatility and usability. Most people are not technical. Most people are also not OK putting their savings in something that can easily lose half its value in a month.


Internet services are regulated by the state, and it's not unheard of for states to turn off access during periods of mass upheaval, or block websites wholesale. What then?


It’s still very rare. Most of the time you can connect to VPNs.


Elon Musk's Starlink would like to have a word with you.


On a Boston subway several years ago I heard a homeless guy with a smartphone, talking to a friend about looking for a place to sleep that night, and about a cool new app.

Cell coverage is widely available in third-world countries, and smartphones are increasingly widespread.

So, not all that much privilege anymore.


> So, not all that much privilege anymore.

Your anecdote doesn't invalidate my statement. 2G/3G coverage isn't even highly available in most third world country. How do you know your homeless guy had a data plan? You don't.


The elephant tells the ape “you big too.”


I usually don’t quote the article, but the last few paragraphs are important and easy to overlook:

———

Elbakyan says she hasn’t approached any political parties or government bodies, thinking they could pick up on the censorship argument if they were interested. She does not believe most people are interested in discussing freedom of knowledge.

“There is no real community to discuss that, you hardly hear such voices. Not just in the mainstream media, but even on YouTube, for example. It all died by 2013, when Aaron Swartz died,” she said, adding that even though many people are using her website or pirate websites such as torrent trackers, few care how and why they work.

“People don’t think about the [copyright] laws, about doing something about it or voting against it,” Elbakyan says. “When people reach out to me, they usually write to say ‘thank you’ or ask how to better donate.”

Sci-Hub’s standoff with the publishing industry is a good fight, Carter (who is also a CoinDesk columnist) believes. “The law and morality don’t always match up, and they certainly don’t in this case,” he said, adding:

“Sci-Hub has undeniably made the world a better place, and Alexandra has had to live as a pariah because of it. Funding her operations with bitcoin perfectly demonstrates its value proposition.”


Is there really no community around "freedom of knowledge"? Why not? How can we make it happen?


The internet was originally that pre 2010's


Touché, we need to bring that back.


"Alexandra Elbakyan, a 31-year-old freelance coder, neurobiologist and phylologist, is running a database of over 80 million articles from academic journals that are normally available only through subscriptions."

A modern Prometheus. Some plinths have recently opened up. A statue of this woman would make a nice replacement.


Careful there. Beside this undoubtedly noble deed she has indulged in some less than impeccable political expression. Meanwhile it looks like a holistic approach to moral evaluation of statues is gaining traction so it might end up a waste of copper.


Holistic is not the term that springs to my mind.


>less than impeccable political expression

According to whom? Care to point us to some of those comments?


According to me :). But there are quite a few people in Russia who would agree. It's in Russian, but here we go:

https://www.apn.ru/index.php?newsid=36204

It might be difficult to understand what's so bad without being embedded into the Russian political context. So here's some more direct stuff from SciHub social media:

https://vk.com/wall-36928352_38852 - Stalin quotes

https://vk.com/wall-36928352_37498 - comparing Stalin to Christ


Not sure why are you downvoted. Without knowing too much about Russian scientific community, in the first article she doesn't seem to say anything too bad. But on vk.com she seems to unironically go full Stalin (the guy who sent thousands of scientists and intellectuals to Gulags).


TBH, without context I'd be 100% certain that those posts are ironic or just trolling. Thing is, in that interview and elsewhere she expresses views typical of other Stalinists, so it's unfortunately not that.


"holistic approach to moral evaluation"

I'm not holding my breath for that one.


Citation Needed


The only political expression of hers I'm aware of is that she says she's a communist, and I don't think that will prevent her getting a statue.


You are not fully informed about this matter then. She vocally supported persecution of Russia's only private science-funding organization. She also seems to be a stalinist, at least she posts Stalin quotes on SciHub's social media and went on record saying "there are multiple ways to see Stalin's persona".


You'd be surprised at how popular Stalin seems to be in Russia and Central Asia countries. Forgot the link but I read that 45% of Russians have a positive opinion of him. Yes he did all those atrocities but more importantly he brought national pride. After all, he did win WW2 and turned the country into a world superpower that rivaled with the US for decades. As time passes the memories of the atrocities fade and the national pride grows. Just like the French praise Napoleon who led hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths in ruinous wars, the British praise Churchill who orchestrated a famine that killed millions of Bengali people, Americans praise the slave-owning founding fathers, etc.


Mao Zedong, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Mohammed, Nelson Mandela, all responsible for varying amounts of human death and suffering - yet revered or worshiped today.


"Nelson Mandela" in the same line as "Genghis Khan". I am puzzled. That doesn't seem right. Citation Needed.


Mandela's many years in prison were the result of his leadership of a "terrorist" organization that killed thousands, mostly fellow blacks, frequently in horrific ways. You're right that this was not on the scale of Genghis Khan's crimes. Yasser Arafat is a better comparison.

https://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/africa/item/17106-...


> killed thousands, mostly fellow blacks

Freedom is not free, that's a given.

Based on past experience in understanding other cultures as an outsider, i am pretty sure there is something else for disliking Mandela which can only be explained by a person from within who understands the different sections of the South Africa. Can someone shed light on this ? The above argument is very weak.


> private science-funding organization.

I don't know why this should not be opposed, stalinist may be.


That's a peculiar worldview


If there was ever a noble application of the decentralized, uncensorable technologies ideas bourne out of the crypto community, this would be it.


Bitcoin is not uncensorable. Miners have the ability to censor transactions based on the sender/receiver/amount.


Correct, but this requires miner collusion. If just one miner says no (or isn't contactable by the colluding party) then the transaction can make it into a block. If this ever became a practical issue, which I doubt, then censored people would only need to switch to any coin that supports stealth addresses.

Edit: I also suppose, the colluding miners could also try to mine a competing fork to censor a block. This would be rightfully called out as a 51% attack attempt, though.


If you're interested in a fungible currency, checkout Monero. A true grassroots cypherpunk project.


Wasn't bitcoin the first true grassroots cypherpunk project? :)


Is it true that miners of Monero cannot censor it ?


Monero miners cannot see the sender address, the receiver address, or the transaction amount. I don't know if they finished Dandelion which is supposed to remove the link between the transaction and the IP submitting it. As far as I know, without Dandelion, it can be censored by IP address if the people running the miners are paying attention to that part of the network, otherwise Monero cannot be censored like Bitcoin can be.


Dandelion is running now


Correct. There is no meaningful basis for censorship in a Monero transaction.

The sender, amount, receiver and IP address are all essentially hidden or unavailable.

Miner can still decide to censor all transactions, random transactions, transactions over certain KB size, etc - but that is probably not very useful, except maybe to attack the network as a whole.


When no transaction information is given, all transactions are indistinguishable. Isn't privacy beautiful?


Grassroots? Do you even know the history of Monero?

Unfortunately Monero was intentionally designed to dump the money supply, so the vast majority of XRM was "mined" by a small group of traditional speculative capitalists.

Monero just amplifies the current plutocracy of the money system due to the algorithm of the emission curve and mining system.

It would be nice if there wasn't a crypto project that didn't try to scam people.

https://monero.stackexchange.com/questions/242/how-was-the-m...

https://monero.stackexchange.com/questions/858/monero-origin...


> Grassroots?

Monero has no premine, dev tax and is a 100% open source project with volunteer contributors. It's about as grassroots as it gets in the cryptocurrency space.

> so the vast majority of XRM was "mined" by a small group of traditional speculative capitalists.

While the cripple mine happened, it only lasted a couple weeks and all of these coins were sold at market value. Monero was worthless for the first couple years.

Monero has a tail emission / infinite supply making it fairer than fixed supply coins.

Disclaimer: Monero contributor


Please elaborate on this nonsensical-sounding statement that perhaps is just easy to misunderstand. 'Miners' is not one person or organization with special authority, so what do you even mean by censorship?

Anyone can be a miner and the decision of what gets included in the next block is determined by a competition of hashing (computing) power.


There is something of a precedent for this when Luke Jr. tried to blacklist addresses he found morally objectionable.

https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/bitcoin-gentoo-client-takeo...

Obviously this is a developer issue, not a miner issue. It really does not make sense that a miner would attempt to blacklist any addresses, as they could only delay transactions proportional to their hash power.


Miners can choose which transactions go into their blocks. If enough of them agree to a certain action, chances are one of them will be the successful miner of the block.


And what's the mechanism for them to want to collude?


Social norms, e.g. they might decide to refund someone who accidentally paid a huge fee for a transaction.


Threat of violence by governments?


Has there ever been a case where this occurred (with a market clearing mining fee is included)? You only need one miner to include the transaction.


There’s a ton, actually. Bitcoin has a system of “standard” transactions, that is the ones that are accepted by miners, vs. “valid” transactions that are accepted by nodes.

Any nonstandard transaction will be rejected by 90 if not 100%, miners, but if you get lucky to get someone to mine it, it will work fine with the protocol.

The nonstandard txs are any that are something more than a transfer, multisig (i.e. the ones that have some sort of smart contract capability).

This is not theoretical - literally killed my project of decentralised oracles (Orisi) back in 2014. Our beta transactions were accepted only by 10% of miners, so you had to wait for hours to get your tx through. Perhaps it changed - I think in 2018 not even one mining pool accepted that, but perhaps by now they fixed it, although I doubt that.

May seem like a small thing, but I met other projects that bumped into it. They had the tech, just didn’t manage to convinve miners to accept their transactions.


You are correct about "standard valid" vs "non-standard valid" distinction in Bitcoin.

You are incorrect about what constitutes a standard.

The "smart contracts" by their own are standard - the whole Lightning Network is based on smart contracts - as well as many other protocols running live for years.

It sounds more like your specific transactions were non-standard due to excessive size, usage of non-standard opcodes, or other technical quirks.


Nope, before Bitcoin core 0.9.2 any script besides 3-4 default templates was considered non-standard. Regular opcodes, any size. We had a basic script that verified 3 out of 4 multisig, and that was non-standard, because the only standard multisig was 2 out of 3.

But this was 2014, so it may have been before your time.


Yes. Treasury has tried to tighten the screws somewhat. [1]

*. https://www.clearytradewatch.com/2018/12/ofac-lists-digital-...

You are correct that you only need one miner, but that miner has to win a block.


it is not uncensorable in an absolute term, that is true. But can come quite close.

Why? For mainly two reasons:

1) Main one: Miners can censor. But miners are not elected. As more transactions are censored by a mojority of miners, the sum of transaction fees of these transactions add up and become a honeypot/incentive. A sum which a "brave" miner could additionally include in a block they would mine (that other miners censoring won't), making themselves MORE profitable by including those. And mining being a low margin business, this is relevant. And this gets more and more relevant the more fees people are ready to pay for such transactions. Nothing is really free in life. It would cost, but the more you are ready to pay a fee, the more uncensorable it gets (if you are not the only one, which is not likely in a long term view in a world with so many countries, minorities, use cases,... ).

The condition for this to work, is

a) being able to mine anonymously (or one day you'll get arrested) and

b) a protocol favoring decentralization (meaning you can have temporarily more centralization like these days, but as long as these more centr. miners behave well and follow the rules, it isn't an issue, and when they start behaving bad, things can get better again [1]).

That is why privacy + decentralization-focused bitcoin-software development is so important

2) The second reason is technically correct, but a bit far fetched I have to admit (!), but read to the end:

- You can become a miner. Ok, you would need to buy an ASIC or better a few, but with that you finally might get lucky and mine your block with those transactions.

- But then again communities could get together and mine together. Like a small town (somewhere hypothetically where some plant grows and producing healthy drugs that are forbidden by law but helping some people who want to pay for that) and thus getting connected to a world wide financial infrastructure to participate in world wide commerce. Or countless other communities are imaginable. It just needs imagination, human creativity and time to develop those scenarios.

[1] Example where it has already happened:

- Bitcoin had moments where one miner got or got near 51% POW, and miners did switch mininig-pools to stop that.

- possibly segwit2x (not entirely sure). Although Segwit2x was circumvented by a user activated softfork, an agreement of a big part of miners wanted to change the rules, but couldn't pull it of

edit 1: formatting

edit 2: some clarifications


Also in practical terms how exactly would you censor "sci-hub" if you wanted to? They could generate a new address for each transaction and amounts could vary.


Maybe a government could require law abiding / non anonymous miners to not mine transactions with destination addresses that are on a live-updated list. They could get those addresses the same way you would get that address.

If new addresses are not only newly generated after every transaction but are user specific & encrypted, then I guess you would need a decentralized web, or governments could use gag orders to force hosting providers to let them spy into these servers [1]

So I guess it is easier for them to get behind addresses of services that service diverse or bigger amount of customers. One solution mentioned by an above commenter are stealth addresses

[1] At least since PRISM ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(surveillance_program) ) this should not sound totally inconceivable anymore


Re: the servers, if you had access to their hosting then I think you wouldn't need to block their payments, you would just take them offline.

But I just took a look and it seems like they've been using the same static bitcoin addres since Feb 2020. So yeah. I guess it's not a thing they're hugely worried about.


yes you are right


Show me one censored transaction please. Miners should collude to censor transactions and there are hundreds of thousands of miners.


OP said "not uncensorable" meaning it is possible to censor using Bitcoin. This in itself is a problem. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it can't. Tor was a DoD project, and so I automatically assume that it is possible for them to control enough exit nodes for them to control traffic. Even if it doesn't happen in practice, it is actually possible for anybody to do. Same with Bitcoin. Got a big enough budget, you can start censoring transactions. Bitcoin is not anonymous, Bitcoin is not private, Bitcoin is not censorship resistant.


I never said it was unsensorable. Try other arguments.

The uncensorable is a spectrum so it is censorship resistant under certain premises. No technology is uncensorable with enough resources but Bitcoin is more uncensorable that the global banking system.


If you set the bar low enough, anything is more uncensorable.


Been doing just fine for 10 years.


The game theory would not permit this since the miners are rotated every 10 minutes.


> I've also been cut off from most of the traditional banking for most of my professional life, and my only crime was being born in Venezuela.

Did you see this:

https://preview.redd.it/29lg5g19dr651.jpg?width=762&format=p...

Despite the Maduro Regime launching Petro (State-based crytocurrency) they do not accept it for their official documents, nor do they accept Credit Cards, they do however seem to accept BTC. Which makes sense because for a time the Government thugs were raiding Bitcoin miners and taking their rigs and funds.

Alexandra is a total badass, I like her defiant attitude towards Academia as a whole, and will be supporting her efforts once again this year. Free access to Scientific Journals is fundamental for a well Educated populace and should be available to all who seek the knowledge.

What's even crazier is that COVID has shown us that in dire situations, the walled-garden Peer Reviewed system isn't always best:

https://www.wired.com/story/peer-reviewed-scientific-journal...

I've seen how petty the peer reviewed system is in the 'publish or die' model in the Health Sciences, its petty and pathetic to see grown men and women alike having to resort to such unscrupulous antics to keep up with the illusion that this is what serves as one of the notable metrics for tenure.

As much as I like SciHub, I hope that her success is measured not by the amount of domains and servers she was able to maintain, but by her/SciHub no longer being needed as the paradigm finally shifted.


Petro was a bit of a joke I think, mostly seeming to require a transfer of funds from Venzulean banks and the like to a petro fund presumably controlled by Maduro or friends and family thereof, in return for petro coins that you can't do anything much with. Credit cards are I guess blocked by US sanctions. At least bitcoin works.


If an advanced alien species popped up, and were to observe humanity today, it probably would have a hard time understanding why a species would intentionally cripple its future so hard by punishing violators of copy-'right'.

It would even be astonished if there weren't any copyright: it wouldn't understand why empty HDD's weren't 90% capacity preloaded with STEM materials at the manufacturing plant. The user could always format.

The majority of nations are lagging in the majority of STEM subjects, why on earth don't they impose a differential STEMpty-ness tax on imported HDD's? Want to import a drive without randomized sampling of research, current and historical? pay extra to the STEM drive pot; imported a STEM drive? receive a little extra from the STEM drive pot.


If you haven’t seen it, I recommend Max Headroom, especially Season 2. Episode 13: “Lessons”

The series is about a sci-fi dystopia. Unfortunately, most of their predictions have come to pass. That episode is particularly relevant.

When it aired, it seemed absurd that we would cripple our future by punishing people that freely disseminated educational materials.

I guess I’m old enough to play the part of the “advanced” alien species in your hypothetical.


I find it interesting that humans always assume alien behavior would be exactly the behavior that they believe is the best behavior for humans. We can't project our ethics on to aliens, there are an infinite number of evolutionary strategies that may develop. Aliens may view enslaving the majority of their fellow species and keeping them uneducated as ethical because it might make for a more efficient structure. More likely, all of their concepts would be completely foreign and incomprehensible to us.

Anyway, putting STEM material on every computer wouldn't do anything because the barrier isn't the availability of knowledge, it's that most people aren't interested in that information. 99.9% of human knowledge is easily available online, just as easy if not easier than opening a file on a HDD. That's not to say that SciHub isn't necessary, because it is and I use it all the time.


There's no open source without copyright.


Maybe not in today's form, but a world without copyright would be a different world, perhaps one in which people would work for free software because it's what they believe in. It would represent a fundamental shift in how the public viewed knowledge, sharing, and openness.


That's clearly untrue. The ultra-permissive 'copycenter' licences used by projects like FreeBSD, are very similar to releasing into the public domain (i.e. waiving copyrights).

There'd be no copyleft (GPL etc) without copyright, sure.


Without the rich owning everything there'd be no need for robinhood either.


There is no licenses like GPLv3 without copyright. But many others would not be necessary, as everything would be essentially under a permissive license.


This is true, however without copyright I think many other things would change making the GPL a lot less necessary. For example, no one could prevent you giving your friend a copy of a program, so the market would change a whole lot. Basically, the thing about BSD that GPL doesn't like is that BSD permits proprietary software being created. Without copyright, there isn't really proprietary software any more, and less of a reason to keep source secret.

(Most of this thinking comes pre-web-applications, that does change the parameters a bit.)


Yes, that's why I mentioned GPL v3.


Free knowledge like mathematics existed before copyright and was free as in freedom.


Yes, and mathematicians were supported financially by universities, by the patronage of the wealthy, or were independently wealthy. Wherever knowledge production and creative work occur, someone is paying for it.


True, without wealth people would think about nothing but food.


Even if Windows weren't under copyright, I don't expect it would be practical to have an OS based off of random leaks of source code without any of the rest of MS's infrastructure.


A hobby of mine is wandering into libertarian communities and asking if there is such a thing as "intellectual property," then walk out whistling.


I hope things like this mean Stripe will bring back Bitcoin support. I understand why they muted it at the time but it seems like high time to have their level of engineering backing something like that out in the wild.

I'd love to have BTC options available. Does anybody know of any similar APIs for doing BTC payments (or accepting cards and having the funds auto-converted to BTC)?


Well beauty of bitcoin is that you can be your own payment processor: https://btcpayserver.org/

There are other alternatives available as well.

Main problem is taxes and legality though, right now it is better to sell your software with fiat money and convert it to bitcoin through personal investment, at least this way your company won’t be under legal risk due to accepting BTC.


I like bitcoin but it's hugely wasteful.

Electricity required to process a single transaction equal the consumption of 18 days for an average US household (source: https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption)

Not only power consumption, these things generate large amounts of e-waste too, comparable to the e-waste generation of Luxemburg (source https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-electronic-waste-monitor/)

It's also terrible to use as a peer-to-peer payment option because it's expensive, slow, and the value fluctuates (in March this year it lost 50% of its value in just a few days)


Ethereum (the 2nd most popular cryptocurrency system) is planning to switch to using both sharding and proof of stake instead of proof of work within the next few years, which will solve the problems of high electricity usage from mining and high transaction fees.

Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, but the system also supports tokens which are like other cryptocurrencies on the same blockchain. The DAI token on the Ethereum network is a decentralized stablecoin, pegged to stay at the price of $1 through a smart contract that automatically manages collateral to maintain the peg. The DAI token can be used as a cryptocurrency without the price fluctuation of Bitcoin or Ethereum.


Pity it's all vaporwear and hype used to pump a token


> I like bitcoin but it's hugely wasteful.

Wasteful compared to what?

> It's also terrible to use as a peer-to-peer payment option because it's expensive, slow, and the value fluctuates (in March this year it lost 50% of its value in just a few days)

It's possible to transact in a matter of minutes. After that you can move it to a stable coin if you want to be exposed to USD (or gold) instead.


> Wasteful compared to what?

Compared to every alternative. Look up the sources I've linked,. the amount of energy used by Bitcoin is ludacris and unsustainable.

> It's possible to transact in a matter of minutes

10 minutes on average, but that's only 1 confirmation. You'll need to wait 6 before you can ship the goods. Current cost is $0.50 - so both slow and expensive. (source https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/fee-calculator/)

> After that you can move it to a stable coin

There are no stable coins on bitcoin (that I'm aware of) and you can't use one nativelly. Even if there are, they are custodial risks involved plus moving requires another transaction.


All true, but Ethereum has a noncustodial stable coin. Ethereum is planning to move to proof of stake over the next couple years, which not only reduces energy use dramatically but speeds up transaction finality. There are multi-client testnets running the final PoS spec right now.


> 10 minutes on average, but that's only 1 confirmation. You'll need to wait 6 before you can ship the goods. Current cost is $0.50 - so both slow and expensive. (source https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/fee-calculator/)

Oh boy, wait till you hear about international money transfers.


You mean those old telegraphic transfers? Why should I use that?

With my PayPal/Mastercard/GooglePay/ApplePay I can do an international order in seconds.


Processing != complete. A credit card transaction generally takes 1-3 days to process. Bitcoin is start -> complete in < 10 mins on average.


Nope. 10 minutes for bitcoin is just 1 confirmation. Most exchanges need 3, but it may take significantly more if you don't put enough fees on the transaction.

Meanwhile Credit cards/ApplePay/GooglePay/Paypal/AmazonPay provide the tap-and-go instant purchase experience, even on international orders.


"Tap-and-go" is an illusion, and like I said the payment is not fully processed for 1-3 days. Low-risk merchants (e.g. under $100) can accept crypto on 0 confirmations (just checking wallet balance) and accept the double-spend risk. This is similar to the chargeback risk merchants take by accepting credit cards (albeit with fewer protections on the crypto side).

I agree BTC fees are high, but for even moderately large transactions (>$25), it is cheaper than credit card/ApplePay/GooglePay/Paypal/AmazonPay fees.

Edit: and even after processing, chargebacks are often viable for up to 60 days.


as a customer, I always like that if something goes wrong, eg. product not delivered, there's always the chargeback option.

There's nothing stopping trusted 3rd-parties (e.g. mastercard/visa) from building wrappers to hold the btc in the meantime and mitigate end-user risk (full circle woo!). Definitely fewer protections from bad-actors with direct btc transactions, but that's by design (e.g. no requirement for a third party)

Then it gets disputed and reverted, up to 1 month after tap-and-go.


Credit issuers insure their transactions. BTC has no insurance. Speed of transaction is instant for both.


oh boy, wait till you hear about wirecard


There's no safe alternative in sources you've linked. Also traditional system has huge cost hidden in inflation. The cost of bitcoin and all these footprints is minimal - you get rid off central banks, banks, visa and others. They have the biggest buildings all around the planet filled with the most expensive workers - all the infrastructure runs on much more electricity than few households. And you compare only the payment process cost. What a luck of imagination.


Hidden inflation? Most top GDP economies of the world target the inflation rate to 2% which is about on par with the current issuance rate of Bitcoin. So most people don't understand that Bitcoin is currently powered by its own inflation.


I see you didn't get the word hidden and say what economies are openly and loudly announcing. No offence. Can you explain the last claim, as I'm the one who in this case is included into the most people.


It's not hidden at all.

Most developed economies including USA & UK target 2% inflation. Here you go https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation

https://www.stlouisfed.org/open-vault/2019/january/fed-infla....

Actually, top GDP economies now have a major problem since the inflation is way below 2%.


> Wasteful compared to what?

Obviously, it is more energy-intensive than an RTGS (ie. a traditional central bank), which also sports low volatility.

But even if you want a distributed, open-membership system, Stellar has only a marginal increase in energy consumption, a tiny slimmer of the amount needed for Bitcoin. (Obviously, it is volatile, though.)


A traditional large central bank requires the government, the legal system and the military to back up the fiat, which is more expensive than electricity for the miners.


How so?

They are all necessary regardless of the currency.

Nobody (ie. less than 0.0001% of the population) wants to live in a lawless society, and if they achieved it, they would be conquered by a lawful one.


Google probably consumes more electricity than the entire bitcoin network. Do you hate them too?


Is the Sci-Hub archive available over torrent or some other P2P system? It would make it an absolute fools errand to take it down as it would keep popping back up.

I don't know a single person who actually donates in bitcoin, so it's surprising to me that she managed to raise 900k in 2018. Bonkers


http://gen.lib.rus.ec/scimag/repository_torrent/

http://gen.lib.rus.ec/dbdumps/

It's something like 75TB last time I checked, over 82 million articles in total. Each torrent contains 100,000 articles, named by DOI.

If sci-hub ever gets taken offline, there are enough full backups out there that it can be re-instated fairly quickly (at least the archive of existing articles; the credentials necessary to obtain new ones are not included in these torrents or database dumps).


Yes there are torrents for libgen and scihub. They are not user friendly. One torrent contains hundreds of files without human identifiers. You need a copy of their database to know what the files are.


I still don't see how anyone can claim with a straight face that taxpayer-funded research shouldn't be public domain.


Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier. There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz July 2008, Eremo, Italy


- I recommend to put the above in quotation marks so people don't think it's your own comment. Extraordinary quote, here's a copy on github: https://gist.githubusercontent.com/ksinkar/4552726/raw/74458...

- I recommend everyone to watch 2014 documentary "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz".

We will never forget Aaron Swartz. He did not die in vain. His work lives on, we are continuing it and will forever.


Only saw this too late to edit but it's a good point. I put source at the bottom but clearer to put link above and quote marks.


If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend the recent discussion (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23489068) on, “MIT, guided by open access principles, ends Elsevier negotiations” (https://news.mit.edu/2020/guided-by-open-access-principles-m...)


Paypal has been quite prominent in banning people from their service. Some might deserve it perhaps but I am still against it. Paypal can never be a universal payment processor.

If they banned real criminal transactions, sure, but I only have seen them ban people to enhance their image.


I mean, the Sci-Hub transactions are real criminal transactions and PayPal is 100% in the right to ban them. It isn’t about “enhancing their image,” it’s about protecting them from significant legal liability.

This isn’t to say that Sci-Hub should be illegal and I am very sympathetic to the argument that scientific research should not be copyrighted. But it is clearly breaking the law as written.


> If they banned real criminal

This too, is problematic. A private entity should never be the one deciding what is criminal and what is not.

Especially if they are providing crucial infrastructure.


This is a very stupid thing to argue and I don’t think you actually believe it. Individuals and corporations are responsible for their own activity and are responsible for determining if their own actions are illegal.

Nobody is saying PayPal should be the arbiter of law and order or that PayPal is automatically liable for all actions of their users. But if PayPal believes one of their customers is using their service to finance criminal activity, they have a legal duty to respond.

An extreme (but plausible) example is child abuse - if PayPal discovers one of their customers is using donations to finance child pornography, PayPal shouldn’t wait for a court order to shut it down. And if they did drag their feet then some PayPal employees need to go to jail.


In your extreme case, it is PayPals duty to inform the authorities. And then to act upon the instructions recieved from that authority. But it is not PayPals duty to decide whether the customer is a criminal or not; that is what the courts or your local version thereof, is for.

It might be that in the US, this is different, but in the EU it is not. In fact, in the EU, payment providers are, in several cases, prohibited by law to shut down or inform customers. So if Paypal were to shut down the contract of such a customer, that would be thing that might bring PayPal employees to jail.

Now, that is obviously aside from any EULA or other agreements PayPal has with its customers: as a private entity, paypal is free to put arbitrary rules in that contract: dissalow stuff that is otherwise perfectly legal, for example. But that is very different from becoming a judge. Edit: but my point was, that the moment PayPal becomes "critical infrastructure", such arbitrary rules are problematic because, if, say, a PayPal account is required to pay taxes or receive any form of wages, such arbitrary rules will exclude people who then might get into serious trouble.

Also, please keep the conversation civil. Calling me "very stupid" does not help to bring your otherwise valid and thoughtful concerns forward.


True, we certainly wouldn't want payment processors to make that distinction.


It's weird/dumb how everything is privatized now. Communication? Zoom! Except if you want to talk about Chinese oppression. Facebook Messenger! But it doesn't let you send piratebay links because "it's a link to a site that might be harmful to your computer". Google! Except if you upload stuff to YouTube and some "rights holder" thinks you stole from them, you might get banned from your whole Google account...


So although stablecoins exist which are great for predictable commerce (having a treasury of the amount value you expected), a key piece of the infrastructure is that Ethereum clients don't work over Tor.

Most stablecoin activity is on the Ethereum network, and the clients have never prioritized Tor use.

Ethereum also hosts privacy that all fungible assets can inherit, using Tornado.cash people can trade notes of unknown amounts, redeemable any time. Using Aztec people can make any token private, and communities can consider doing private-by-default tokens including with stablecoins if the issuer started it that way.

So its not as simple as Bitcoin OR Monero. There is a looming large piece of the puzzle that simply is missing one piece - ease of use over Tor. Layer2 solutions on Ethereum also inherit privacy inadvertently, while solving scaling issues on layer1.

Of course, sci-hub doesn't NEED Tor itself for donations, being fairly benign, but as soon as that piece exists, many tech savvy people simply use that route. Monero will likely remain superior but technically lesser solutions can solve the actual market needs better, since the attack surface isn't that consequential.


That's not true. For example: https://link.medium.com/cGM3v6dTC7

Also you can use tornado.cash for example over Tor. Or any dapp via something like metamask (or another wallet) over Tor.


Thanks

So if you are using a Tor operating system like tails, metamask is not available because you wont be using chrome or brave on that OS, installing extensions in tor browser firefox isnt readily available either

Other wallets are not easily compiled on debian and it appears to be a complete afterthought

Yes sending to a node that happens to be routing over tor should be easy

There are too many hurdles and fixing those hurdles will make this viable and more commonplace, where I gather the market doesnt actually want to switch between bitcoin and monero if many are already in the ethereum ecosystem


Metamask seems to be available on Firefox.


okay now put it in the Tor Browser Bundle on Tails, how is that done?

even on Osx/Windows, how would metamask be used with the Tor route?

I don't think you've ever done this, only replied


The Tor Browser Bundle is just a tweaked version of Firefox, so Firefox extensions should work for it. https://github.com/MetaMask/metamask-extension/issues/4771 implies that it works, maybe with some bumps. I would expect that the Tor Browser Bundle works by configuring Firefox's proxy setting, which should apply to all traffic including extension traffic, but that's certainly worth double-checking.


> ... Ethereum clients don't work over Tor.

That's always bothered me. It also amazes me how much clients seem restricted to smartphones and Chrome.


What's the relevance of whether eth clients work over Tor? A wallet's history would be available on a block explorer like etherscan.io whether the transaction had been broadcast over Tor network or not. I run a bitcoin node over Tor but it does not change how any money spent from that wallet is viewed by the network compared to spending from a non-Tor wallet.


It has been trivially easy to disassociate an address from your identity for half a decade.

You just go from fiat to Monero. And then over Tor you swap or morph Monero to the surveillance coin you actually want. The centralized swapping service wont know your IP address due to Tor, Monero uniquely doesnt have transaction history, and the address you provide for the surveillance coin will be a virgin one never used before.

So the swapping service and all the blockchain sleuths will be stopped cold. Actually they wont be stopped they’ll just be following transactions forever thinking it has the same beneficial owner. So a wild goose chase for people that think they have purpose in life.

And you get to transact in the digital asset you want.

Unfortunately if that is on the ethereum blockchain then you cant send additional transactions while over tor.

The desired use case: Anonymously funding a subspace of addresses using Monero (unstable value), receiving DAI and Ether.

Still over Tor, using the DAI (stable value) to donate to scihub. Using ether for transaction fees.

Downloading literature from scihub over tor. (Not using bittorrent)

BONUS: we can also get rid of ether transaction fees now, if the dai was issued directly on a layer2 system like zksync.

So there is a vibrant ecosystem that simply cant broadcast transactions over tor right now. Its a udp issue. Not irreconcilable, people just havent done it in the node software.


I wouldn't want my ISP-assigned IP address to be associated with my Monero transactions. And VPNs, even nested VPN chains, provide far less anonymity than Tor.

Edit: s/Bitcoin/Monero/g


How successful has it been to switch to Bitcoin? I hear mixed things about it and wonder how many actually use this currency.


As the article points out, Sci-Hub relies on bitcoin for international donations but the majority of its donations come via Yandex.Money, a Russian version of PayPal. I guess that means that most of its donations come from Russians and other CIS nationals with access to Yandex.Money.


Some things that are good for Russia, or terrorists, are good for everyone.

One of those is free and open scientific research.

Bitcoin was designed for just this kind of purpose.


Why are "Russia" and "terrorists" mentioned in the same breath?


I think I understand the meaning of the comment (some things that are good for terrorists, like an untraceable currency or messaging app) are good for everyone. Then to be fair Russia has a very relaxed view on copyright (just having a look at VK or yandex music.. it's just full of pirated Western content) and Russian activists are often the first adopters of privacy apps. Ну да, он это не так хорошо сказал.


It's interesting that Russia, which is seen as semi- or outright Fascist by many Americans, is much more free than the U.S. is. At least in terms of information freedom and surveillance. The further removed an individual is from the seat of world power, the less necessary it is for every aspect of their lives to be controlled.


Your internet is way more censored that ours and Putin is planning on making his own great firewall.

>Putin Signs 'Russian Internet Law' To Disconnect Russia From The World Wide Web


Who's internet? I'm not from Russia.


Because jpkoning mentioned Russians and terrorists are the usual excuse used to pretend that secure (ie not amenable to blackballing) banking infrastructure is a bad thing, when in fact it's

> good for everyone.

with the exception of repressive govenments that want to shut down things like Sci-Hub.


The leaders of those governments will eventually figure out how to launder their bribes through bitcoin (if they haven’t already), and then it’ll be good for the oppressive governments too.


I read that as wry.


Isn't it great to be in a multipolar world? The greatest threat to human progress is a monopoly on power.


Transaction fees are a real issue with Bitcoin.

Most of the time, they are suitable for standard payment amounts, but they can spike to quite high levels that make only large amounts worth transacting. This is due to network capacity limitations.

Furthermore, anyone that does not wish to hold BTC - understandable due to its significant volatility - must convert it again into the preferred currency.

Fees = friction, and there's enough friction now that people will only use it when it provides some significant utility.


Bitcoin isn't necessarily well aligned to what people usually think of as a "currency".

It's an entirely new beast in the financial instrument space.

It does bear some characteristics of traditional currencies, but not all of them.

Specifically, as it works today, and until Lightning gets some traction, BTC isn't very convenient for small day to day transactions like buying a cup of coffee.

On the flipside, it does have attributes that traditional currencies strictly do not have.

For cases such as the OP, there is no other financial instrument on the planet that will cut it (other than things like Monero / ZCash / MimbleWimble).

Besides being antifragile and censorship resistant, there is also a very strong case to be made for Bitcoin in the 'preservation of wealth' niche (if you are strongly insensitive to short-term volatility, and capable of playing on a 5 year time horizon, that is).

[EDIT]: To answer your question more precisely, Bitcoin has most definitely been a success story for sites like sci-hub, Wikileak and generally speaking, people who try to speak truth to power.


> To answer your question more precisely, Bitcoin has most definitely been a success story for sites like sci-hub, Wikileak and generally speaking, people who try to speak truth to power.

Also for VPN providers, and their customers. And generally for people who want to buy stuff and lease online services ~anonymously. If one mixes well enough, that is.


And avoids using a mixer that decides to screw you over, and avoids using a mixer that gets taken down because hey - guess what? That's basically money laundering and the jail time for that sort of thing can be pretty hefty.


> avoids using a mixer that decides to screw you over

Most mixers use CoinJoin, which gives you trustless assurances that you won't lose your money. The worst thing you'll lose is your time.


A mixer is not “money laundering”. As I understand it, “money laundering” is when you conceal from somebody, usually the tax authorities, the reason you have the money. If someone has no income to speak of, and still has a lot of cash, that’s suspicious. A “mixer” in this case would be analogous to exchanging the physical bills for bills with different serial numbers. But this does not alleviate suspicion, the problem of the money being unexplained remains. So they can “launder” the money; i.e. pretend that they have a hair salon business or something similar, and then declare that a lot of people are coming to their salon and spending money, even though there aren’t. But this now provides an explanation for the amount of money they have; the money is now “laundered”, even though it’s the same physical cash as before.


That's true. You never mix any more than you're willing to lose. And sure, it's money laundering. But money laundering in defense of freedom from oppression is OK, as I see it.


So long as you're ok with your coins getting mixed with (and thus providing cover for) the more criminal stuff, I guess.


I'm OK with that. And it's impossible to avoid, if you're using systems with any chance of protecting your privacy. Also, criminals tend to attract lots of attention, and they're often careless, so they act as canaries.

There is the concern that you'll end up with Bitcoin that's been tainted in one way or another. However, at least some mixing services get coin from miners, so it's clean. And you can check for that in the blockchain.

That's mostly a concern when you're mixing Bitcoin before converting it to meatspace fiat. If you're anonymizing Bitcoin purchased with meatspace fiat, it doesn't matter so much if some is tainted. Or at least, it won't unless tainted coin gets blacklisted.


Admittedly (!) exaggerated, but are you not also providing cover for criminals by doing not essential things (like playing tennis), because criminals would be catched easily if no law abiding citizen would do that kind of things, right?

Just a thought


It's not that easy to be anonymous with Bitcoin. Eventually you have to pay for Bitcoin, and that going to involve cash or trust, neither is simple.


Mirimir earns his Bitcoin, so there's no cash involved.

But no matter how you get the Bitcoin, you can get whatever degree of anonymity you want, by mixing it many times. You mix via Tor and nested VPN chains, with a different Whonix VM and mixing service for each mix.


Bounce through monero first.


Might as well just stay in Monero. If you have to pay someplace that doesn't use Monero, just use XMR.to to pay (converts Monero to Bitcoin).


you can buy bitcoin KYC free on bisq.network (but there is a premium). Very low risk of loss of funds. You can even use zelle which is supported by most banks.

From there, send your coins through a samouari whirlpool https://samouraiwallet.com/whirlpool

Then send them wherever you like.

There is still some counterparty risk (what if you're buying coins from the CIA, or whatever), but it's almost minimal.

Buying coins from a Bitcoin ATM is even easier, if there's one near you.


Bitcoin ATMs probably have surveillance cameras.


Bitcoin ATMs definitely have surveillance cameras - if they don't, the area surrounding their location do. As far as I know there are only a handful of older Bitcoin ATM brands that don't have a camera and even the brand I'm thinking of Lamassu has added cameras in their later models.[1]

[1] https://lamassu.is/faq


> Buying coins from a Bitcoin ATM is even easier, if there's one near you.

Enjoy those massive fees!


There are forks of Bitcoin that solve (most of) these problems and make it more usable as an actual currency, rather than a gold-like store of value. "Bitcoin Cash" is the most famous, there are others.

Frankly the failure of "original" Bitcoin to adapt to use as a currency seems to me to be a total failure of vision.


With that logic the wright brothers made a shitty airplane. Bitcoin will exist forever, it will be like the Egyptian pyramids for our ancestors.


My understanding of Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV is that they have just increased the blocksize the clients can handle. Is there something more to them than that?


Not really, but the result is essentially no fees. And thanks to Moore’s Law there’s no trade-off for it. Bitcoin (Core) is insane for having high fees.


Yes. It's really worth dwelling on the long-term implications of terabyte+ sized blocks and fees of a thousand of a cent. This is where BSV is heading and everything changes at that scale. New use cases are unlocked. Old architectures need to be rethought. It's the most interesting technology I've encountered in a long time and it's a gem of entrepreneurship opportunity for those that can stomach swimming upstream.


there's also sidechains, segwit, and lightning network which shrink and consolidate transactions to increase the number of them that can fit in a block


> seems to me to be a total failure of vision.

First, the market seems to strongly disagree with you [1]

Second, what seems to me a total failure of vision is trying to shoehorn something as new and disruptive as Bitcoin in the old and worn out yoke of currencies as they used to exist. There's paypal for that.

[1] https://www.tradingview.com/symbols/BCHBTC/?exchange=COINBAS... (choose the 5 yr. view)


Coinbase has 30M+ users. Extrapolating from that I'd say roughly 100M people use Bitcoin to some extent, and it's growing pretty rapidly (20% growth on /r/bitcoin subscribers this year). Using means storing or transferring value in Bitcoin.


"currency"


> wonder how many actually use this currency.

100% of cyber criminals use Bitcoin, that's a lot of people!


100% criminals also use cash. The real problem is 0.0001% can use Bitcoin in any real sense of cash.


Criminals prefer monero or another privacy coin.


Criminals prefer Western Union and Apple store gift cards.


Google play cards..


That's a strange thing to say without any substantiation. How many cryptolockers use Monero over Bitcoin? How many carding forums accept Monero over Bitcoin? How many darknet markets use Monero over Bitcoin? How many scammers scam you into buying them Monero over gift cards/western union/wire transfer/bitcoin?

Sure many support Monero, but none at the exclusion of Bitcoin.


As far as I can tell, criminals prefer to get paid. Bitcoin is accessible to customers.


Customers don't want to put themselves at risk either. Most illegal activity is rapidly switching to monero as people learn that Bitcoin is easily traceable unless people take confusing and expensive countermeasures. It's not difficult to swap between different cryptocurrencies and there are major exchanges in almost all countries to directly get monero anyway


The problem of turning money to and from monero still seems to exist though. That point where I want to take some of that monero and turn it into cash to buy tangible illegal things nearby and that other point where I want to take some illegal cash and turn it into moneros. At that point, that money needs to pass through a system that records its existence.

With cash, that money can change hands hundreds of times without it ever being tracked by anyone.

The only way a digital currency can ever be safely used for illegal activities if if it can be used and acquired as freely, easily and as anonymously as cash.

From what i've seen there's no digital equivalent to 'handing someone a suitcase full of cash in a dark alley' or receiving your 'cheque' at the end of the day as a wad of cash in an envelope.

With that cash, I can immediately turn around and spend it on some illegal shit and no record any where will ever exist of me being paid or having purchased illegal things. I can then go and spend that money just as easily in a store, where again, no records of where that money came from exists. It'll just appear(or reappear most likely) in circulation magically when the store records it as profit.

Creating a digital currency like this that actually functions as a currency seems unfeasible. Cash only works as it does because everybody just kind of agrees it does or because the government says it does I suppose.

As an addendum and disclaimer, I wrote a lot of this from a first person point of view, that was for dramatic descriptive purposes only and not from any actual personal perspective or activities.


Monero works like that just fine. You just have to actually use it for everything, rather than convert into physical cash. Just get your provider of tangible things to accept Monero.

If you really need cash, you can also just (physically) go to someone who has cash and tell them "I'll transfer you some Monero coins if you give me some cash and don't record that you did".


Ok so, for a more tangible example, I hand Buddy several pounds of drugs, Buddy hands me cash, I can walk to the store immediately and use said money to acquire things. Likewise, I could turn around, go talk to other Buddy and buy more drugs, all within 5-10 minutes of receiving said handful of cash.

Until a digital currency allows this with the same level of anonyminity and ease, it's not viable as a replacement to cash. Go betweens and other things will still involve some third party to facilitate the conversion to real currency. That's the problem. This digital currency must be equally as legitimately and illegitimately useful immediately upon receipt with no hassle with any and all transactions directly doable in said currency without the need for any third party involvement or recording.


So shouldn't Monero be more popular?


Barely anyone understands this technology well, and so they listen to celebrity Bitcoiners that have a vested interest. It's also difficult to find the one good alternative project among is a sea of well-funded scams. Marketing is important. Real usage is also a niche activity compared to speculation at this stage


This is a good thing. We don't want Monero to get too popular just yet. Let the people who really need privacy find it while the politicians are still fixated on Bitcoin.


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