In 1993 a group of activists published A Cypherpunk’s manifesto, a document that explored the fundamental importance of privacy for an open society in the electronic age and the necessity of cryptography to protect it. The power of the internet, smartphones and social networking have brought about the reality of mass communication, and with it, the ability to gather information about others on an unprecedented scale.
‘Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world... Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it.’
Today, over two decades later, the encryption technologies advocated by the Cypherpunks have developed – and so have the threats that catalysed their movement. We have learned how the concentration of surveillance technologies in the hands of undemocratic and unaccountable groups has led to injustices that remained hidden from public view for years. We see the erosion of civil liberties and the assumption of guilt inherent in mass surveillance. We have also seen how the concentration of financial power has led to the exploitation of our economic system by the already wealthy, with little recourse for ordinary citizens.
We witnessed the Global Financial Crisis, brought about by the irresponsible stewardship of our money by the financial elite, but paid for by ordinary taxpayers. We follow the news of political interests preventing meaningful reform, of market crashes brought about by economic incompetence, and the threat of confiscations to pay for the excesses and moral hazards that are endemic to the present system. We recognise the injustice of the unilateral seizure of wealth that is inflation, and the absurdity of claiming that this is beneficial to those against whom it is perpetrated.
Information is and will always be power. When information is made freely available and distributed among the greatest number of people, the power of the financial, political and technological elites to whom it was previously confined is inevitably threatened. They will not voluntarily permit this. Therefore, in the words of John Gilmore, the guarantees of the freedoms we consider so foundational to an open society must be made by the laws of physics and mathematics, not bestowed as a temporary privilege by the authority of a state.
Cryptographic protocols and currencies provide, for the first time in the electronic age, the ability to communicate and transact freely and anonymously, making known only what we wish to make known to others. They enable trade and commerce that are not conducted under terms dictated by a third party, that are not subject to their arbitrary intervention, and that are not subject to abuses that range from mandatory fees through to collusion and outright market manipulation.
The BitcoinDark (BTCD) platform includes four features and ideals we believe are critical to the healthy functioning and growth of the crypto economy that we hope will become a parallel and alternative to the traditional fiat economy, encapsulated by the D.a.r.k acronym:
Only a truly decentralised system can be owned by its users, free from interference from vested interests and hostile authorities. Although bitcoin paved the way for all cryptocurrencies, many of these – including bitcoin itself – have become dangerously centralised through corporate interests and reliance on infrastructure-heavy proof-of-work mining. BitcoinDark is built on a proof-of-stake system that is both secure and resistant to attack from centralisation.
The freedom of speech and privacy – financial or otherwise – that are key to an open society require anonymous communication as standard. Privacy is built into the BitcoinDark platform from the ground up. We recognise that some people may choose to abuse this anonymity, just as they have chosen to abuse the anonymity of physical cash or the potential complexity of electronic transfers. We consider this a lesser evil than the injustices described above and a price that must be paid to maintain freedom.
The blockchain technology on which cryptocurrencies are built enables an immutable record of transactions, but this comes at the cost of speed. BitcoinDark has integrated the decentralised InstantDEX exchange to enable near-realtime trading of currencies, commodities and assets.
Volatility has characterised most cryptocurrencies to date, compromising what would otherwise be a desperately needed store of value. BitcoinDark will enable users to ‘lock’ funds against real-world currencies, commodities and stock indices, redeeming them for their value in BTCD at a later time. Together with its realtime exchange, this will enable users to trade effectively and manage their own accounts and portfolios of investments, entirely outside of the existing financial system.
We are not messianic about the potential of this technology or naïve about its limitations, knowing that it will always be human nature to exploit the vulnerabilities of any financial system. All we demand is a level playing field. Since this has never before been available to us, we have built the tools to access it ourselves. We understand that this may be unpalatable to some people. For the rest, the BitcoinDark platform is and will always be free for anyone to use, modify and improve.