Edward Snowden has weighed in on Bitcoin, a technology whose themes overlap with his fight for privacy and flight from the US.
Snowden is currently taking asylum in Russia from US authorities, who have charged him with unauthorized communication of national defense and intelligence information after he revealed classified NSA documents to journalists.
He made his comments on Bitcoin during an interview at the meeting of The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an international organization of professionals concerned with the evolution of internet architecture. He discussed topics related to government monitoring, human rights, internet security and Bitcoin.
The interviewer raised the notion of Bitcoin’s anonymity. In his initial response, Snowden shared his thoughts on Bitcoin in general:
“So, the Bitcoin thing is – I mean this is – nobody really likes to talk about Bitcoin anymore. There are informed concepts there. Obviously, Bitcoin by itself is flawed. The protocol has a lot of weaknesses and transaction sides and a lot of weaknesses that structurally make it vulnerable to people who are trying to own 50 percent of the network and so on and so forth.”
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However, he acknowledged that “there are some very interesting things” its technology has to offer, including tools like proof of work and tokenization.
He went on to draw parallels with Tor, and then focused on how Bitcoin can assist in protecting real-world identities:
“But focusing too much on Bitcoin, I think, is a mistake. The real solution is again, how do we get to a point where you don’t have to have a direct link between your identity all of the time? You have personas. You have tokens that authenticate each person and when you want to be able to interact with people as your persona in your true name, you can do so. When you want to be able to switch to a persona – a common persona, an anonymous persona, a shared persona, you can do that. When you want to move to pseudonymous persona, you can do that.”
During his tenure with NSA, Snowden was highly regarded for his technical expertise, claiming to have solved the hardest of technology problems for CIOs and CTOs of various government agencies. One former NSA co-worker reportedly said he’s a “a genius among geniuses.”
A campaign for Snowden has raised nearly 197 BTC ($50,000 based on today’s bitcoin prices) to date.