Edward Snowden Calls for Privacy Upgrades in Bitcoin as Crypto Mixers Close

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Key Takeaways

  • Edward Snowden has urged blockchain developers to enhance Bitcoin's privacy at the protocol level.
  • The closure of mixing services is part of a wider U.S. crackdown on anonymous crypto transactions.
  • Snowden also highlighted concerns regarding proposed reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower, recently urged blockchain developers to bolster Bitcoin’s privacy features at the protocol level.

This appeal comes in the wake of intensified regulatory actions in the United States, which have led to the closure of several crypto-mixing services designed to enhance user anonymity.

In a detailed post on X (formerly Twitter) on May 3, Snowden criticized the current state of Bitcoin’s privacy measures.

He states he has been cautioning Bitcoin developers for over a decade about the necessity of incorporating robust privacy protections directly into the cryptocurrency’s protocol.

Snowden underscored the urgency of these improvements. He highlighted the recent announcement from ZkSNACKs — the developers behind the Wasabi Wallet — about their decision to discontinue Coinjoin, a popular crypto mixing service. It is set to end on June 1, following mounting pressure from U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, Snowden brought attention to the concerns voiced by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Goitein has been vocal about the potential implications of proposed reforms to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Snowden echoed her warnings, suggesting that the amendments could significantly expand the NSA’s surveillance capabilities, effectively leading to what he described as the agency being “days away from taking over the internet.”

US Crackdown on Crypto Mixers

As the landscape of digital privacy continues to evolve, Snowden’s remarks serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle over the control and security of online platforms and services.

Coinjoin’s shutdown is part of a broader clampdown by U.S. authorities on cryptocurrency platforms that allow anonymous transactions, which they argue can facilitate illegal activities.

This was recently exemplified by the federal prosecution in New York of the founders of Samourai Wallet, who are accused of enabling over $2 billion worth of illicit transactions through their service. Reports have highlighted this case as indicative of a larger trend of rigorous enforcement actions targeting crypto wallets and mixing services engaged in or suspected of facilitating unlawful transactions.