The FT has put out an article titled, “Inside monero, emerging crypto of choice for cybercriminals.” In it, the privacy coin Monero (XMR) is painted as the rising option for cybercriminals, taking the place of Bitcoin.
Why? Because its suite of privacy features, such as stealth addresses and Ring signatures, hides information on the sender, receiver, and amount.
“For cybercriminals looking to launder illicit gains, bitcoin has long been the payment method of choice. But another cryptocurrency is coming to the fore, promising to help make dirty money disappear without a trace,” it says.
The recent ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and JBS saw hackers demand Bitcoin. This raised many questions about the circumstances of the partial recovery of funds in the case of the Colonial Pipeline company and why hackers would even ask for Bitcoin, given its poor privacy features.
Nonetheless, mainstream media sensationalist headlines often do more harm than good. Especially in cryptocurrency, where misconceptions can set off false narratives in the general populace.
Although cybercrime is a real thing we should all be wary of, it’s about time we separate criminality from our right to privacy.
Monero is not a hotbed for criminality
The FT claims that Monero’s privacy features make it increasingly sought after by criminals. This, in turn, is making the job of law enforcement much more difficult. They also mention that the criminality element is driving the rise of Monero.
Unfortunately, there are several problems with this. Firstly, any hacker worth their salt would naturally gravitate to privacy coins anyway. To connect privacy features and criminality is as irrational as saying cash holders are drug dealers.
Also, Monero has been around since 2014, and if anything, it is falling in popularity relative to other cryptocurrencies. For example, in January 2020, Monero was a top-ten coin. But today, it ranks 26th, which is contrary to the idea that the activity of cybercriminals is putting buy pressure on XMR.
What’s more, a study on the illicit use of cryptocurrency found that the vast majority of criminal activity is conducted using fiat and through traditional financial institutions.
“Meanwhile, estimates of illicit activity in the economy as a whole, overwhelmingly conducted through traditional financial intermediaries and with traditional fiat currencies, are on the order of 2 to 4 percent of global GDP.”
Privacy is not a crime
Michael Saylor said he set up the Bitcoin Mining Council to ensure those against cryptocurrency cannot control the narrative around Bitcoin and mining.
“…hostile to Bitcoin and the crypto industry aren’t defining those narratives, models and metrics. In the absence of any good information or any response on our part, they will define those models.”
There are similarities between this and our right to privacy. But the issue is that most people have become so reliant on the media and authorities they willingly give up their rights, even shunning those who call out the issue.
It’s about time we realize that narratives around privacy being bad are just the tiptoe towards a digital dictatorship.
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