In recent history cryptography has influenced elections, revolutionised monetary exchange and decided wars all within a few generations.
The advent of computing Companies and more recently ‘big-tech’ Corporations has made data probably the most valuable commodity in the world. The everyday crypto enthusiast would likely not consider cryptography (and by its nature cryptocurrency) as being deeply intertwined with politics on a national and international scale.
We need to consider that prior to search engines, e-mail and similar, it was very time consuming and expensive for Governments or Corporations to compile and analyse data on individuals. ‘Big-tech’ has allowed our data to be collected, analysed and distributed with ease.
The idea of data collection has snuck up on the general populace; however this reality was not lost on a small collective known loosely as ‘cypherpunks’. The cypherpunks had a world view positioning themselves on the intersection point between politics and crypto. Recent data breaches have started to awaken consciousness around the issue of personal data that this group were well aware of since the advent of online data storage.
The debate around the use case of cryptography was in an embryonic stage with the focal issue being the advancement of electronic surveillance by Government on the general populace. Early crypto pioneers believed that cryptography could be used as a data protection device to bring some power back to the everyday person.
The encryption of data is an extremely powerful tool to possess. Through the simple use of standardised cryptographic algorithms, the everyday person has the power to create uncrackable data transmission. The power transfer of data control then easily shifts back into the hands of the individual from Government or Corporations.
Naturally when cryptocurrency was created the moral issues surrounding the decentralisation of storage of value were debated. Again global politics are not far away from this movement. The issue here is the power differential in favour of the individual. The question for crypto enthusiasts is this: in what way should the Government implement necessary safeguards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism; whilst simultaneously keeping the benefits of a cryptographically secure store of value?
The current state of cryptocurrency is that it is still heavily reliant on ‘fiat’ currencies. Whilst this relationship remains, Governments will obviously have significant input into the future of cryptocurrency. Digital Currency purists will have to allow some give and take around the use of their identity data to ensure mainstream adoption for cryptocurrency moving forward. The question is, how much is too much?
Author: Andrew Butler
Director of Easy Crypto Australia