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(Marketwatch)   Bitcoins reach $947. A virtual new record high   (marketwatch.com) divider line 35
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626 clicks; posted to Business » on 27 Nov 2013 at 9:25 AM (39 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



35 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-11-27 09:27:34 AM
bubble gonna be bursting soon.
 
2013-11-27 09:28:42 AM
Sell 'em if you got 'em and made money on 'em.This bubble is bound to blow like that whale video.
 
2013-11-27 09:30:58 AM
img.gawkerassets.com
 
2013-11-27 10:18:33 AM
Not getting into this when I was offered a couple of hundred at $0.50 a piece makes my decision to sell all my Power 9 Magic cards back in '94 look like a wise financial decision.
 
2013-11-27 10:23:19 AM
How much for Fark Credits.
 
2013-11-27 10:30:46 AM
t1.gstatic.com
 
2013-11-27 10:45:17 AM
If bitcoins start to be accepted at more 'legit' places, like Amazon and iTunes for example, then I can see them going far higher as more people buy them. If they start to be used as a trading tool then they could stay that price. If they are just a speculation then there will be a crash.
 
2013-11-27 10:56:42 AM
I was going to buy them at $28 then $140 and then $800. Not buying them now...
 
2013-11-27 11:23:55 AM

D135:


Very much this, they'll be coming down shortly.
 
2013-11-27 11:40:48 AM
78 percent of Bitcoin currency stashed under digital mattress, study finds Link.

I'm not touching this with a ten foot pool.

Bitcoin is at 1073 at the moment.
 
2013-11-27 11:59:35 AM

tzzhc4: Sell 'em if you got 'em and made money on 'em.This bubble is bound to blow like that whale video.


My understanding is that it is very difficult to cash out right now for people in the US. Apparently Mt. Gox has halted withdrawals, and there aren't too many other options to get your money out.
 
2013-11-27 12:23:58 PM
I'm tempted to try out the Bitcoin ATM (selling) if prices stay this high. I mined about BTC1.7 last year, when it was still possible to do so using a graphics card. Those days are now long gone.

i.imgur.com
Note the logarithmic scale. This shows the computational effort required to mine a block of bitcoins. The recent upward trend is when companies started to ship dedicated ASIC hardware. As more of these chips fight for the same pool of coins, the difficulty per block is ramped up automatically and the rate of return for older hardware goes down proportionately. To stay in the game you need to keep buying ASICs or have control of an illegal botnet.
 
2013-11-27 12:37:01 PM
One thing of which we can all be sure:  The usual people make a killing on the rise and fall of bitcoins, and the usual people will get the little they have wiped out by same.
 
2013-11-27 01:00:44 PM
I have a feeling in a couple years, we'll be having conversations that start with "Hey, remember bitcoin?  Man that was crazy wasn't it?"
 
2013-11-27 01:01:11 PM
A co-worker of mine bought two ASIC boards because GPU mining is too slow.   He's going to sell the ASIC boards because they have actually doubled in value since he bought them.
 
2013-11-27 03:58:55 PM
Yo, can an urban brotha get some of that sweet bitcoin hustle, homie Gs?

I mean, no one has explained clearly how!
 
2013-11-27 04:57:53 PM

Flint Ironstag: If bitcoins start to be accepted at more 'legit' places, like Amazon and iTunes for example, then I can see them going far higher as more people buy them. If they start to be used as a trading tool then they could stay that price. If they are just a speculation then there will be a crash.


Porn sites are accepting them
/If anyone still pay for porn
 
2013-11-27 05:17:47 PM
 
2013-11-27 05:18:25 PM

drjekel_mrhyde: Flint Ironstag: If bitcoins start to be accepted at more 'legit' places, like Amazon and iTunes for example, then I can see them going far higher as more people buy them. If they start to be used as a trading tool then they could stay that price. If they are just a speculation then there will be a crash.

Porn sites are accepting them
/If anyone still pay for porn


Isn't there a coffee shop with a bitcoin ATM?
 
2013-11-27 05:21:46 PM
Can a Bitcoin be made into smaller denominations like a Bitpence or Bitpenny, and if so, how is this denoted in the transaction wallet thingy?  Can the amount a Bitcoin is cut up into be as small as possible?
 
2013-11-27 05:27:08 PM

Brontes: Can a Bitcoin be made into smaller denominations like a Bitpence or Bitpenny, and if so, how is this denoted in the transaction wallet thingy?  Can the amount a Bitcoin is cut up into be as small as possible?


Yes. You can buy Bitcoin in fractions of a tenth, a hundredth etc. Link.

And you can send someone 0.000002 of a bitcoin or similar.
 
2013-11-27 06:27:53 PM

Brontes: Can a Bitcoin be made into smaller denominations like a Bitpence or Bitpenny, and if so, how is this denoted in the transaction wallet thingy?  Can the amount a Bitcoin is cut up into be as small as possible?


Each bitcoin can be broken up into 100,000,000 smaller units called "Satoshis", the fake name used by the NSA team that invented bitcoins.
 
2013-11-27 07:43:05 PM
How do I money bitcoin?

If I ask, some random person on the internet has to teach me right?
 
2013-11-27 08:08:38 PM

Dion Fortune: How do I money bitcoin?

If I ask, some random person on the internet has to teach me right?


I think mining it is now just too far out of reach unless you have some serious computing power, but I'm not an expert.

But you can buy some. That's a £ GBP site but there are USD sites of course. I thought it was worth buying a few, not betting the farm but a sum I could lose without any worry. If it goes up, great. If I lose the lot, no biggie.

If bitcoin starts going mainstream then it could still go up a way. There are only 21 million in circulation and that's it. The more demand, the higher the price.
The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?
 
2013-11-27 08:25:06 PM

Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?


Product prices would be pegged to USD but the BTC price would fluctuated depending on the valuation.  There are APIs that allow currency price conversion on the fly, it would be trivial for a decent ecommerce company to implement.
 
2013-11-27 08:41:14 PM

r00tdenied: Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?

Product prices would be pegged to USD but the BTC price would fluctuated depending on the valuation.  There are APIs that allow currency price conversion on the fly, it would be trivial for a decent ecommerce company to implement.


I suppose so. It will be interesting to see what happens.

/Still feel sorry for the guy who threw away a hard drive with a bitcoin wallet on it that's now worth £4 million...
 
2013-11-27 09:27:42 PM

Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?


The bigger issue is that the value of bitcoins is pretty much guaranteed to fluctuate between the time they agree to sell the item to a person and the time the bitcoins are transferred, and fluctuate again between when they are transferred and when Amazon can trade the bitcoins for actual currency.
 
2013-11-28 03:39:29 AM
No bank needed!!!! Duurrrr hurrrr
 
2013-11-28 05:04:10 AM

r00tdenied: Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?

Product prices would be pegged to USD but the BTC price would fluctuated depending on the valuation.  There are APIs that allow currency price conversion on the fly, it would be trivial for a decent ecommerce company to implement.


And in that situation, what purpose does Bitcoin serve?

You trade your US dollars for bitcoins, which you then spend on Amazon.com, which then trades them back for dollars again.  So why is anyone in the chain wasting time on bitcoin?  The answer is, they wouldn't.  This is why Bitcoins are not actually used as a currency, people aren't buying and selling with them, they're buying them as a commodity, speculating that the price will go even higher.  As a currency, they serve little purpose other than for illegal activities.
 
2013-11-28 05:30:08 AM

2chris2: r00tdenied: Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?

Product prices would be pegged to USD but the BTC price would fluctuated depending on the valuation.  There are APIs that allow currency price conversion on the fly, it would be trivial for a decent ecommerce company to implement.

And in that situation, what purpose does Bitcoin serve?

You trade your US dollars for bitcoins, which you then spend on Amazon.com, which then trades them back for dollars again.  So why is anyone in the chain wasting time on bitcoin?  The answer is, they wouldn't.  This is why Bitcoins are not actually used as a currency, people aren't buying and selling with them, they're buying them as a commodity, speculating that the price will go even higher.  As a currency, they serve little purpose other than for illegal activities.


Or people who have a genuine reason for not wanting to be traced. Women in Saudia Arabia buying make up or educational books. People in oppressive regimes buying banned materials. Even someone buying a birthday present for their partner and not wanting it to appear on their credit card bill.

Also most credit cards in the UK charge a fee for purchases in a foreign currency. Buying bitcoins in GBP and then using them to pay for something from a US website could make a big difference especially on lower priced items where a fixed £2 charge per transaction could double the cost of something.
 
2013-11-28 05:32:50 AM

2chris2: r00tdenied: Flint Ironstag: The rising price could be an issue though. How can someone like Amazon price something in bitcoin when the value of bitcoin can go up 10% in a day?

Product prices would be pegged to USD but the BTC price would fluctuated depending on the valuation.  There are APIs that allow currency price conversion on the fly, it would be trivial for a decent ecommerce company to implement.

And in that situation, what purpose does Bitcoin serve?

You trade your US dollars for bitcoins, which you then spend on Amazon.com, which then trades them back for dollars again.  So why is anyone in the chain wasting time on bitcoin?  The answer is, they wouldn't.  This is why Bitcoins are not actually used as a currency, people aren't buying and selling with them, they're buying them as a commodity, speculating that the price will go even higher.  As a currency, they serve little purpose other than for illegal activities.


Also it is a way to pay money to another individual. Amazon can take credit cards but how do I pay a person? They font accept MasterCard
And for small businesses the card fees can be significant. Bitcoin could work out far cheaper for them.
 
2013-11-28 11:37:15 AM

Flint Ironstag: Or people who have a genuine reason for not wanting to be traced. Women in Saudia Arabia buying make up or educational books. People in oppressive regimes buying banned materials.


Difficulties which pretty much preclude the use of Bitcoins or Bitcoin-like virtual currencies for these purposes...oh, there are many.

Short version: Your proposal is roughly as practical as, oh, having a woman in Saudi Arabia spontaneously shiat out an Internet connection, a Tor client, roughly 4 million SA dinars in Bitcoins, Princess Twilight Sparkle Ph.D et Philias, and Gundam 00 Quant-T complete with a rather confused Kurdish boy with a Japanese pseudonym who is somehow insisting that he is in fact Gundam.

Long version on why this is perhaps one of the dumber justifications I have ever heard for SatoshiScrip in my life:

a) In countries with this severe of restrictions on personal rights, not only is Internet access strictly controlled but the countries in question also tend to have very onerous customs requirements for items shipped to people in the country.  (Saudi Arabia, for one, has surprisingly little Internet access outside of universities; in addition, it is very well known that Saudi customs checks incoming mail to the country to make sure nothing forbidden gets in.  Other regimes similarly restrictive of human rights even go so far as to restrict computer equipment and even the use of Internet cafes; Cuba pretty much restricts non-government users to a whitelisted intranet, Burma (until recently) actually required licensing to POSSESS a modem, and it's not unknown for oppressive regimes to literally require the equivalent of computer and Internet usage licenses).

b) In oppressive regimes, even if Internet access is available (and in some areas it is still not available at any cost as the only access available is via satellite--and oddly enough, most oppressive regimes tend to severely restrict even personal import of satellite modems and phones for some reason) it is likely to either be of such low bandwidth as to be unusable or priced out of the budgetary range of the very marginalised community in question.  (Newsflash: There are NGOs in more impoverished parts of the world--those very parts that tend to have some remarkably anti-woman, anti-freedom-to-read policies--that are still using UUCP-to-Internet and FidoNet-to-Internet gateways for their primary email access and don't even have proper WWW access yet.)

c) Bitcoin is not anonymous, particularly against a state actor.  Depending on the level of paranoia of the oppressive government and the budget of its security establishment AND its partnerships with governments which may have a much larger and deeper spying apparatus, it's well within possibility that Bitcoin purchases CAN be traced to the actual users.

(No offense, but the Silk Road bust fiasco should have pretty much proven to anyone the fail of "anonymous purchases via Bitcoin".  A simple failure of basic sec-ops security by the site owner led to the effective compromise of the entire site, and there are reliable reports that people who have made purchases on Silk Road are now being contacted and investigated by law enforcement in their home countries.

(Also not discussed--the very real possibility that a Sufficiently Paranoid Government or the partner of a Sufficiently Paranoid Government could explicitly set up a Bitcoin-accepting merchant as a sort of honeypot for dissidents, or could compromise an existing site.  To go back to the Saudi Arabia example, they well could set up a honeypot merchant in another country for the explicit purpose of busting members of the women's rights community purchasing educational materials on Bitcoin; they could also go to the NSA (and it is known that Saudi Arabia and the NSA do have an information sharing agreement, as do the NSA and Israel) and basically claim that a particular Bitcoin merchant selling goods relevant to the women's rights community in SA is in fact being operated by a terrorist organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy--which would be enough to get them under the NSA radar.  Again, there is explicit precedent for this--at least one known anonymising email service that operated primarily on the Tor darknet was compromised by the NSA in the wake of the Edward Snowden trial.)

d) Even if a Bitcoin-accepting merchant exists for a marginalised community that is not compromised on some level by a state actor, Bitcoin purchases are still NOT anonymous; network connectivity can be traced back by a Sufficiently Paranoid Government (keep in mind that it is NOT uncommon for Sufficiently Paranoid Governments to have, at most, one or two international points of entry and exist from their national section of the Internet to the rest of the Internet as a whole), there are countries in the Sufficiently Paranoid Government category that outright ban the use of pseudonymising or anonymising software by their users (it's not uncommon to see Tor software considered prima facie evidence of violation of law, for instance); it's not uncommon for Sufficiently Paranoid Governments to have measures in place to explicitly block the use of anonymising or pseudonymising networks (not uncommon at all to see widescale blocks on Tor and proxies in the Middle East, and the Great Firewall of China is another case study on international firewalls) and typically downloads of anonymising or pseudonymising network client software tend to be blocked by national firewalls; and finally, there are even countries that effectively restrict what browsers can be used for purchases (South Korea, for example, legally requires the use of Internet Explorer for online purchases due to specific requirements re tracing of online commerce).

(ALSO not mentioned--the real possibility that the network that Bitcoin merchant stores operate on is compromised by state actors, assuming someone can get hold of a pseudonymising or anonymising network client.  Among other things, there is some real concern that Tor itself has been widely compromised to greater or lesser extent by the NSA, who has been reportedly passing along information of interest to law enforcement in the US and other countries (there are serious estimates that up to twenty percent or more of Tor entry and/or exit nodes could be "owned" in some manner by the NSA); there is also concern that VPN providers could have been compromised, either via legal subpoenas, through government sniffers in the server room, or via outright honeypots being set up by government actors.

(ALSO not mentioned here--there has also been some very real concern raised (since about 2006 or so by cryptography geeks and since about 2013 by everyone else) that some of the basic cryptography protocols used by many anonymising and pseudonymising networks may themselves have been compromised by the NSA (so even if the network itself is encrypted and not compromised in a conventional manner via honeypots or compromised sites, the underlying security algorithms could be owned by a Major State Actor Friendly To A Sufficiently Paranoid Government).  Again, Snowdengate has given some real info on how badly Tor in particular may have been compromised by this (Freenet, interestingly, has not gotten as much attention).

e) Even if by some black miracle the person involved manages to find a non-compromised Bitcoin-accepting merchant on a non-compromised network that somehow has an entry node that is NOT blocked by the country's national firewall...they could STILL not be anonymous, because the same countries that tend to be Sufficiently Paranoid Governments also tend to use various forms of malware (which range from "crude" to "extremely farking sophisticated 0-day exploits") to pretty much own the computers of the people in question.

f) And finally, Bitcoins themselves are surprisingly hard to obtain in relatively democratic countries, much less Sufficiently Paranoid Governments.  A lot of Sufficiently Paranoid Governments have things called "currency controls" that effectly prohibit even the exchange of national currency to NON-VIRTUAL currencies good elsewhere (this is especially common in Sufficiently Paranoid Countries in the very sorts of economic farkitude that would make a wildly-varying-in-price virtual currency like Bitcoin appealing in the first place), and even a lot of other countries not traditionally thought of as Third World have currency trading regulations sufficiently ornerous enough to prohibit purchasing of Bitcoins via an exchange (the US, for starters, effectively considers Bitcoin to be sufficiently foreign-currency-like that the SEC has given advisory statements that Bitcoin exchanges need to be licensed in the same way as foreign currency exchanges to allow trade...which also includes some very strict accountability-and-tracing requirements, which pretty much utterly destroy the concept of Bitcoin as pseudonymous currency; hence why exchanges as a rule don't take USD anymore).

In a Sufficiently Paranoid Country (and even a lot of countries not thought of as Sufficiently Paranoid), there are enough regs on currency and even currency-like exchanges that the only practical method for someone to obtain Bitcoins would be via sneakernet--and in a Sufficiently Paranoid Country that entails its OWN risks, including the very real risk of ending up on the very sorts of government surveillance lists one was hoping to avoid.  (In Zimbabwe, people trading in SA rand and USD did end up on internal surveillance lists, and in fact people engaging in Group Activities Not Approved By The Government tend to end up on internal surveillance lists very quickly.  In the sort of places where Bitcoin merchants on a darknet would be the only option for info, the idea of "buying Bitcoin from a guy on a street even after agreeing to meet with them" is almost synonymous with "paste a large sign on your back asking to be disappeared".)

Hell, even in the country you mentioned (Saudi Arabia) and the marginalised community you mentioned (women in SA)...even sneakernet is not a practical option; women are very restricted on where they can go about, with even restaurants and buses being segregated in a sort of gender-based apartheid (and that's assuming women are allowed at ALL in an area); women are also not allowed to be seen in the company of men who are not direct relatives by blood or marriage, are actually Very Strongly Encouraged By The Local Moral Police to not go out at all save with other women or their male relatives, and are not allowed to drive or really use any mode of independent transportation other than their feet.  Asking a woman to go trading for Bitcoins on the street of Riyadh is asking for her to get the living shiat beat out of her by the local moral police.

And before you ask, no, it is NOT an option for a Marginalised Person in a Sufficiently Paranoid Country to up and buy an ASIC mining rig; they get to run into ALL the same problems mentioned in a)-f) PLUS DEFINITELY ending up on a government watch list for having bought high technology without justifying it to the government PLUS the real risk that they cannot buy an ASIC at all due to government sanctions.

Even someone buying a birthday present for their partner and not wanting it to appear on their credit card bill.

There's an option that exists in many functional countries (yes, even in the UK) for online merchants: it's called a prepaid card.

There's an even older option, although it involves this thing called Going Out Into The Big Blue Room and actually interacting with pachy-furred hominin apes that use tools and live indoors, and that's called "Going to a place called a 'bank' and getting several pieces of paper or plastic with pictures of the Queen on it and handing these pieces of paper with pictures of the Queen to the pachy-furred tool-using hominin ape which happens to have possession of the things you want for your partner".  Otherwise known as "paying cash", and it even has the bonus that it's actually more anonymous than Bitcoin is at the moment.
 
2013-11-28 11:48:22 AM

Great Porn Dragon: Otherwise known as "paying cash", and it even has the bonus that it's actually more anonymous than Bitcoin is at the moment.


Enjoy your anonymity. Just don't forget that:
1) In addition to a picture of the Queen, each bill has a unique serial number
2) These bills are dispensed by machines which know your account number
3) Cameras, OCR technology, and data storage are dirt cheap these days
 
2013-11-28 02:50:17 PM

Great Porn Dragon: Flint Ironstag: Or people who have a genuine reason for not wanting to be traced. Women in Saudia Arabia buying make up or educational books. People in oppressive regimes buying banned materials.

Difficulties which pretty much preclude the use of Bitcoins or Bitcoin-like virtual currencies for these purposes...oh, there are many.

Short version: Your proposal is roughly as practical as, oh, having a woman in Saudi Arabia spontaneously shiat out an Internet connection, a Tor client, roughly 4 million SA dinars in Bitcoins, Princess Twilight Sparkle Ph.D et Philias, and Gundam 00 Quant-T complete with a rather confused Kurdish boy with a Japanese pseudonym who is somehow insisting that he is in fact Gundam.

Long version on why this is perhaps one of the dumber justifications I have ever heard for SatoshiScrip in my life:

a) In countries with this severe of restrictions on personal rights, not only is Internet access strictly controlled but the countries in question also tend to have very onerous customs requirements for items shipped to people in the country.  (Saudi Arabia, for one, has surprisingly little Internet access outside of universities; in addition, it is very well known that Saudi customs checks incoming mail to the country to make sure nothing forbidden gets in.  Other regimes similarly restrictive of human rights even go so far as to restrict computer equipment and even the use of Internet cafes; Cuba pretty much restricts non-government users to a whitelisted intranet, Burma (until recently) actually required licensing to POSSESS a modem, and it's not unknown for oppressive regimes to literally require the equivalent of computer and Internet usage licenses).

b) In oppressive regimes, even if Internet access is available (and in some areas it is still not available at any cost as the only access available is via satellite--and oddly enough, most oppressive regimes tend to severely restrict even personal import of satellite modems and phones for some reason) it is likely to either be of such low bandwidth as to be unusable or priced out of the budgetary range of the very marginalised community in question.  (Newsflash: There are NGOs in more impoverished parts of the world--those very parts that tend to have some remarkably anti-woman, anti-freedom-to-read policies--that are still using UUCP-to-Internet and FidoNet-to-Internet gateways for their primary email access and don't even have proper WWW access yet.)

c) Bitcoin is not anonymous, particularly against a state actor.  Depending on the level of paranoia of the oppressive government and the budget of its security establishment AND its partnerships with governments which may have a much larger and deeper spying apparatus, it's well within possibility that Bitcoin purchases CAN be traced to the actual users.

(No offense, but the Silk Road bust fiasco should have pretty much proven to anyone the fail of "anonymous purchases via Bitcoin".  A simple failure of basic sec-ops security by the site owner led to the effective compromise of the entire site, and there are reliable reports that people who have made purchases on Silk Road are now being contacted and investigated by law enforcement in their home countries.

(Also not discussed--the very real possibility that a Sufficiently Paranoid Government or the partner of a Sufficiently Paranoid Government could explicitly set up a Bitcoin-accepting merchant as a sort of honeypot for dissidents, or could compromise an existing site.  To go back to the Saudi Arabia example, they well could set up a honeypot merchant in another country for the explicit purpose of busting members of the women's rights community purchasing educational materials on Bitcoin; they could also go to the NSA (and it is known that Saudi Arabia and the NSA do have an information sharing agreement, as do the NSA and Israel) and basically claim that a particular Bitcoin merchant selling goods relevant to the women's rights community in SA is in fact being operated by a terrorist organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy--which would be enough to get them under the NSA radar.  Again, there is explicit precedent for this--at least one known anonymising email service that operated primarily on the Tor darknet was compromised by the NSA in the wake of the Edward Snowden trial.)

d) Even if a Bitcoin-accepting merchant exists for a marginalised community that is not compromised on some level by a state actor, Bitcoin purchases are still NOT anonymous; network connectivity can be traced back by a Sufficiently Paranoid Government (keep in mind that it is NOT uncommon for Sufficiently Paranoid Governments to have, at most, one or two international points of entry and exist from their national section of the Internet to the rest of the Internet as a whole), there are countries in the Sufficiently Paranoid Government category that outright ban the use of pseudonymising or anonymising software by their users (it's not uncommon to see Tor software considered prima facie evidence of violation of law, for instance); it's not uncommon for Sufficiently Paranoid Governments to have measures in place to explicitly block the use of anonymising or pseudonymising networks (not uncommon at all to see widescale blocks on Tor and proxies in the Middle East, and the Great Firewall of China is another case study on international firewalls) and typically downloads of anonymising or pseudonymising network client software tend to be blocked by national firewalls; and finally, there are even countries that effectively restrict what browsers can be used for purchases (South Korea, for example, legally requires the use of Internet Explorer for online purchases due to specific requirements re tracing of online commerce).

(ALSO not mentioned--the real possibility that the network that Bitcoin merchant stores operate on is compromised by state actors, assuming someone can get hold of a pseudonymising or anonymising network client.  Among other things, there is some real concern that Tor itself has been widely compromised to greater or lesser extent by the NSA, who has been reportedly passing along information of interest to law enforcement in the US and other countries (there are serious estimates that up to twenty percent or more of Tor entry and/or exit nodes could be "owned" in some manner by the NSA); there is also concern that VPN providers could have been compromised, either via legal subpoenas, through government sniffers in the server room, or via outright honeypots being set up by government actors.

(ALSO not mentioned here--there has also been some very real concern raised (since about 2006 or so by cryptography geeks and since about 2013 by everyone else) that some of the basic cryptography protocols used by many anonymising and pseudonymising networks may themselves have been compromised by the NSA (so even if the network itself is encrypted and not compromised in a conventional manner via honeypots or compromised sites, the underlying security algorithms could be owned by a Major State Actor Friendly To A Sufficiently Paranoid Government).  Again, Snowdengate has given some real info on how badly Tor in particular may have been compromised by this (Freenet, interestingly, has not gotten as much attention).

e) Even if by some black miracle the person involved manages to find a non-compromised Bitcoin-accepting merchant on a non-compromised network that somehow has an entry node that is NOT blocked by the country's national firewall...they could STILL not be anonymous, because the same countries that tend to be Sufficiently Paranoid Governments also tend to use various forms of malware (which range from "crude" to "extremely farking sophisticated 0-day exploits") to pretty much own the computers of the people in question.

f) And finally, Bitcoins themselves are surprisingly hard to obtain in relatively democratic countries, much less Sufficiently Paranoid Governments.  A lot of Sufficiently Paranoid Governments have things called "currency controls" that effectly prohibit even the exchange of national currency to NON-VIRTUAL currencies good elsewhere (this is especially common in Sufficiently Paranoid Countries in the very sorts of economic farkitude that would make a wildly-varying-in-price virtual currency like Bitcoin appealing in the first place), and even a lot of other countries not traditionally thought of as Third World have currency trading regulations sufficiently ornerous enough to prohibit purchasing of Bitcoins via an exchange (the US, for starters, effectively considers Bitcoin to be sufficiently foreign-currency-like that the SEC has given advisory statements that Bitcoin exchanges need to be licensed in the same way as foreign currency exchanges to allow trade...which also includes some very strict accountability-and-tracing requirements, which pretty much utterly destroy the concept of Bitcoin as pseudonymous currency; hence why exchanges as a rule don't take USD anymore).

In a Sufficiently Paranoid Country (and even a lot of countries not thought of as Sufficiently Paranoid), there are enough regs on currency and even currency-like exchanges that the only practical method for someone to obtain Bitcoins would be via sneakernet--and in a Sufficiently Paranoid Country that entails its OWN risks, including the very real risk of ending up on the very sorts of government surveillance lists one was hoping to avoid.  (In Zimbabwe, people trading in SA rand and USD did end up on internal surveillance lists, and in fact people engaging in Group Activities Not Approved By The Government tend to end up on internal surveillance lists very quickly.  In the sort of places where Bitcoin merchants on a darknet would be the only option for info, the idea of "buying Bitcoin from a guy on a street even after agreeing to meet with them" is almost synonymous with "paste a large sign on your back asking to be disappeared".)

Hell, even in the country you mentioned (Saudi Arabia) and the marginalised community you mentioned (women in SA)...even sneakernet is not a practical option; women are very restricted on where they can go about, with even restaurants and buses being segregated in a sort of gender-based apartheid (and that's assuming women are allowed at ALL in an area); women are also not allowed to be seen in the company of men who are not direct relatives by blood or marriage, are actually Very Strongly Encouraged By The Local Moral Police to not go out at all save with other women or their male relatives, and are not allowed to drive or really use any mode of independent transportation other than their feet.  Asking a woman to go trading for Bitcoins on the street of Riyadh is asking for her to get the living shiat beat out of her by the local moral police.

And before you ask, no, it is NOT an option for a Marginalised Person in a Sufficiently Paranoid Country to up and buy an ASIC mining rig; they get to run into ALL the same problems mentioned in a)-f) PLUS DEFINITELY ending up on a government watch list for having bought high technology without justifying it to the government PLUS the real risk that they cannot buy an ASIC at all due to government sanctions.

Even someone buying a birthday present for their partner and not wanting it to appear on their credit card bill.

There's an option that exists in many functional countries (yes, even in the UK) for online merchants: it's called a prepaid card.

There's an even older option, although it involves this thing called Going Out Into The Big Blue Room and actually interacting with pachy-furred hominin apes that use tools and live indoors, and that's called "Going to a place called a 'bank' and getting several pieces of paper or plastic with pictures of the Queen on it and handing these pieces of paper with pictures of the Queen to the pachy-furred tool-using hominin ape which happens to have possession of the things you want for your partner".  Otherwise known as "paying cash", and it even has the bonus that it's actually more anonymous than Bitcoin is at the moment.


Many excellent points.
 
2013-11-28 02:52:48 PM

Ivo Shandor: Great Porn Dragon: Otherwise known as "paying cash", and it even has the bonus that it's actually more anonymous than Bitcoin is at the moment.

Enjoy your anonymity. Just don't forget that:
1) In addition to a picture of the Queen, each bill has a unique serial number
2) These bills are dispensed by machines which know your account number
3) Cameras, OCR technology, and data storage are dirt cheap these days


Many completely rubbish points. What's the point of recording serial numbers of banknotes when all shops just stuff them in the till without recording the SN or who gave them which note?
 
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