Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bitcoin Privacy Developments, Power Ecology, and Helping the Homeless

Today's blog will briefly cover some recent privacy developments related to bitcoin, as well as developments in what I'll refer to here as "power ecology," and a description of some bitcoin projects to help the homeless.

Bitcoin Privacy Developments

There are several bitcoin privacy developments you should be aware of that are maturing significantly.

1) Peter Todd mentioned on Jan. 5, 2014 to the bitcoin development mailing list that "CoinJoin, CoinSwap and similar technologies improve your privacy by making sure information about what coins you own doesn't make it into the blockchain, but syncing your wallet is a privacy risk in itself and can easily leak that same info."  He additionally stated in part, "It is often advantageous if blockchain queries can be efficiently spread across multiple servers to avoid allowing the attacker to correllate the information into a whole. (...) With bloom filters doing this (it) is extremely costly as the full blockchain data needs to be read from disk to apply the filter; with prefix filters if the nodes have appropriate indexes there is little overhead to splitting the queries and no performance loss. (...) If addresses associated with change txouts are truly one-time-use, we can reduce or eliminate queries associated with them."

2) On Jan. 6, 2014, Peter Todd released an e-mail titled "Stealth Addresses" to the bitcoin development mailing list.  In this e-mail, he stated in part: "A Stealth Address is a new type of Bitcoin address and related scriptPubKey/transaction generation scheme that allowers payees to publish a single, fixed, address that payors can send funds efficiently, privately, reliably and non-interactively. Payors do not learn what other payments have been made to the stealth address, and third-parties learn nothing at all. (both subject to an adjustable anonymity set) (...)
Credit goes to ByteCoin for the original idea. Gregory Maxwell, Adam Back, and others on #bitcoin-wizards contributed valuable input on the implementation. Finally thanks goes to Amir Taaki for input on the
general idea of stealth addresses and use-cases."

3) Also on Jan. 6, 2014, Amir Taaki released new versions of libbitcoin, obelisk, and sx.  These releases are significant not only because these tools were used to develop Dark Wallet (on github in development here), but because they can (independently or jointly) be used for any privacy initiative relating to decentralized protocols.  From his e-mail announcement to the unSYSTEM mailing list (in part):
"This marks the first major release of Obelisk and SX. The version number
of libbitcoin has been bumped to 2.0, and I recommend everyone to
upgrade. This release has important bug fixes and code quality
"These packages will be maintained for some time, with bug fixes
backported. I'll also help with upgrading code to newer versions as the
API changes (just send me a message)."

The sha256sum of tarballs for this project were described in the e-mail as follows.  (The link to the source code on github is shown in hyperlinks provided earlier in this post.)


Power Ecology, Helping the Homeless

4) 'Power ecology' in the context of bitcoin is simply my way of describing shorthand the desire of many people to see bitcoin energy consumption be addressed in an ecologically sound manner.  While there are arguments that ecological concerns about bitcoin power use are essentially myths, it should be pointed out that there is no reason why we should not seek renewable sources of energy for bitcoin mining and maintenance.  Additionally, open source hardware intended to support production of sufficient renewable energy for bitcoin generation is a technology that already exists, and people have also built systems themselves to support such endeavors.  Such systems (whether offered for sale or built as "DIY") are not very expensive, considering the potential for the value they can produce.

5) Bitcoin Across America is a newly-released joint initiative involving Sean's Outpost and KryptoKit.  This is an effort to raise awareness about homelessness in the USA.  I hope you will support Bitcoin Across America with your donation.

See you next Tuesday.

Recommended Reads:

BitMonet (which was covered in the first post of the EdgedSolo blog) and Coinbase partner to release an Android SDK enabling micropayments within the app.
features (as quoted from the Coinbase blog post on the subject):  
"The new Android SDK allows you to:
  1. Accept bitcoin payments from within Android apps - the customer never needs to leave the app to pay.
  2. Accept payments with zero transaction fees, and just a few taps for seamless checkout.
  3. Perform micro-transactions on mobile with zero fees.
  4. Initiate debit payments in bitcoin, and support other payment flows which weren’t possible previously using bitcoin."
The code for this endeavor is open source, and can be found on github, here.

Developer's Introduction to Bitcoin (very informative!) by Vitalik Buterin

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