Monero Monitor

Episode 10: Defending Privacy - Coin Center's Advocacy to US Regulators and Lawmakers

01 Aug 20170 Comments

Have you ever wondered what the attitudes of lawmakers and regulators are towards privacy issues with Bitcoin and privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero? This past week, I traveled to Coin Center in Washington, DC to talk with Jerry Brito (Coin Center's Executive Director) and Peter Van Valkenburgh (Research Director) about the regulatory environment and congressional attitudes towards privacy-centric projects in the space.

In this episode, we talk about recent headlines including the Coinbase/IRS John Doe summons case and the Uniform Law Commission's recent cryptocurrency model state law work. Then we talk about financial surveillance law and how privacy projects fit within the regulatory environment in the United States, the importance of distinguishing between open and closed "blockchains", and how the Monero community might be able to get involved in Coin Center's advocacy.

Whether you're an American wondering about your rights or about the legal issues with cryptocurrencies or are from another country and simply interested in gaining an insight into American attitudes towards these projects, this episode offers over an hour of in depth and thoughtful information.

If you're interested in reading more about Jerry and Peter's work, check out CoinCenter.org. There you can find the Open Matters paper we discussed in the episode and much more.

Did you enjoy this episode? Please show your support by donating today.

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Podcast Transcript:

~~ { Introductory Clip and Music } ~~

Mike: Hi, everybody. This is Mike and you’re listening to an all new episode of the Monero Monitor podcast. Today I’ve travelled down to Chinatown in Downtown Washington, DC to speak with Jerry Brito and Peter Van Valkenburgh of Coin Center about the regulatory environment surrounding cryptocurrencies, congressional attitudes towards privacy issues in the space and how privacy coins like Monero might be treated in the future.

For those of you unfamiliar with Coin Center, it’s an advocacy and research group focusing on public policy issues surrounding cryptocurrencies. Jerry is the Executive Director of Coin Center and Peter is Coin Center’s Research Director. Peter is also a member of the Zcash Foundation and Board of Directors, which hopefully means that as we talk about these privacy issues, he’s probably given them so thought. Gentlemen, thank you for hosting me today and thanks for coming on the show. 

Jerry and Peter: Thanks for having us.

Mike: Would you each mind giving us a quick background about yourselves and what you do here at Coin Center?

Jerry: Sure. As you said, I’m the Executive Director. Before coming to Coin Center, I was at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. I was there for 10 years. There I started and directed something called Technology Policy Program. And so we were looking at the regulation of technology broadly. So, that goes from old-school telecom issues, privacy, copyright issues, but increasingly, it was, towards the end of my time there, more and more emerging technology issues, so 3D printing, drones, autonomous vehicles, and cryptocurrencies.

And by the end of my time there, I was spending almost all of my time on cryptocurrencies. So, really my whole career has been in tech, tech-policy, before that I was at The Cato Institute. So, it’s been think tanks my whole career and always focused on tech policy.

Peter: And I was in law school around 2012, 2013. First found out about Bitcoin, got really interested. Almost set up a mining rig in 2012, but decided to study for my contracts exam instead which is a big regret because I got a bunch of law school debt instead of a bunch of Bitcoin. When I was in law school, I wanted to study technology law, especially internet law, so stuff to do with copyright and privacy primarily.

When I got out, I came down to DC to work on a more general tech policy think tank through a Google Fellowship; they’ve mostly focused on telecom issues and copyright. And I was excited to do that, but I still had Bitcoin in the back of my head. And Jerry, who, we know each other from Twitter and a common circle of friends came to me and said, “Hey, I see you’re in DC now, how would you like to be the director of research at a Bitcoin think tank?” And I think I laughed at him and immediately said: “Yes, that sounds awesome. Do you really have funding for that?” That was three years ago now, the beginning of Coin Center and been here ever since, trying to make the world safe for innovation.

Mike: Okay, cool. So, I’ve actually heard you talk, Peter, before on a podcast called Epicenter, that was a few months back and then I’ve heard you both talk through YouTube videos before Congress and so, anybody who’s listening, if you’re interested in details we don’t cover today, I encourage you to go look up some of those different resources, they both provide a lot of valuable information I think, about the regulations in this space. 

Before we start talking about kind of privacy issues, I do want to hit on one more bit just to cover our bases here. So, Peter, you are a member of the Zcash Foundation, and then I know that Zcash also sponsors Coin Center (as well as a number of other companies). Can you just real quick tell us about what it’s like to partner with Zcash and why you decided to do that? And then also, just real quick, what these companies’ involvements are, are they just a funding source, or are they liaising with you?

Jerry: Yeah, so let me start with that second question first. So, it’s important to understand what Coin Center is and what we do and what the relationship is with the folks who support us. So, Coin Center is an independent non-profit. What that means is that we’re not a trade association, we don’t represent any company. So, typical trade association, like the Internet Association, like the Internet Association that has membership, Google, Facebook, Amazon, these are all members of the Internet Association and they pay a membership fee and then the Internet Association represents those companies and lobbies on behalf of those companies before Congress and different agencies, etc.

And that’s not what we are. We don’t have membership. We don’t have any members, we don’t represent any companies, we don’t represent any particular technology or cryptocurrency or anything. We’re an independent organization which means that our members, or we don’t have members, but our supporters don’t direct our activities the way that Google, Facebook and Amazon direct the activities of the Internet Association.

Our model, because we’re independent is more like EFF. We have supporters; people are welcome to support our agenda. We set our own agenda, so me, Peter, we set our own agenda and folks are welcome to support that. And at the end of the year, if they like what we did over the course of that year, they’re welcome to support us for another year. And if they don’t like what we do, they can walk away. So, about half of our support comes from companies and investors in this space and that includes the Zcash Company, but it also includes Coinbase, BitPay, BitGo, Xapo, it includes the Ethereum Foundation, it includes, who else is there? 

Peter: Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, so some of the venture capital firms. 

Jerry: So, the other half of our funding comes from individuals. So, not companies in this space, but people who just care about this technology.

Mike: And I’m guessing people can probably guess some of those names just thinking about this space, but then, it’s also on your website. So, if anybody is interested, just go check out their website. 

Jerry: Yeah, and also, a lot of folks are individuals who you might be able to guess. But it’s also people who just give us $50. 

Peter: And Jerry mentioned the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a good model. The Internet Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are usually on the same page about everything because what matters to big internet companies generally also matters to the rights of users and developers of the technology. But they could diverge in some areas, so that’s basically how we see our relationship within the industry or any of the specific projects in this space is, we mostly want to look out for the technology broadly. And by technology, I mean open blockchain networks which, we can talk about what we think fits into that bundle and what doesn’t. 

Suffice to say, Monero definitely fits into that, Zcash fits into that, Ethereum fits into that, but a consortium blockchain like R3 probably doesn’t fit into that. Not that we have anything against those projects, but that’s not what we take as our constituency. 

Jerry: Right and the reason is that these open blockchain networks, like Monero, like Bitcoin, like Zcash, these are open-source projects that are un-owned resources. They are public goods. And so, as a result, you need an independent organization to look after the technology broadly and the rights of users. 

Mike: Yeah, that’s actually, Peter, something you hit on quite-well I thought in that Epicenter podcast. So, if anybody has more questions about that, maybe that’s a good resource. And then…

Peter: Right. So, Zcash Foundation, I’m on the board of directors, I was asked by Andrew Miller who was sort of the first board member to flesh out that early board. It is like a jump-start board, so I may not long-term be on the board of directors of the Zcash Foundation, I think they want to ultimately have a more community-based membership. But, the reason why, primarily I think it’s because through our work in advocacy, I became personally acquainted with Zooko, who of course is the founder of the Zcash Company. 

And he started telling us about Zcash and some of the issues he was having, some of his concerns about regulation and law and we were of course always happy to be helpful to people who come knock on our doors and ask for our opinion as to what the state of play is, and what we think is happening and where there might be risks and where there might be opportunities. So, we sort of cultivated that relationship for a while and Zooko eventually asked me and Jerry as well, alternatively, or both of us, if either of us would be interested personally, not in our capacity at Coin Center, but personally to take place in the multi-party compute ceremony to generate the zk-SNARK parameters at the launch of that network. 

He told us a little bit about what the ceremony was going to entail and what it might be and I found it fascinating. I think I have decent OPSEC, so I thought, “Maybe I could make a go at this and really try and do it right, so it’s less likely to be compromised at least on my end.” I did not rent a car like Peter Todd and drive across the Canadian wilderness to do it, so I kind of ended up feeling bad afterwards that all I did was barricade myself in my apartment. But, anyway, I took part in the ceremony, and I think that in many ways knitted me personally to, a lot of the people in the Zcash space, so I became an obvious fit for the Zcash Foundation because I’m not an investor in the company which gives me a little bit of independence. 

The goal of the Zcash Foundation is to gradually, over the three years, that the block reward to the company winds down, take the reins of development and push it into open community context so that it’s not this centralized project that’s mostly based on the efforts of a few people at the company. As someone not invested in the company, I think I fit that role pretty well and I’m honored to have been asked to join that board and try and flesh out that organization at the early days. 


QS 10:38 Mike: Great. Okay, thanks for that. I don’t plan on asking any questions about that going forward. So, I just thought it would be interesting to hear that take from your perspective and why you got involved.

Okay, so I’d like to ask you a bunch of specific questions, but first I thought it would be interesting to kind of highlight some news that’s been going on lately and places where you all have been involved. So, I think pretty prevalent in the news if you’ve been following the last few months has been this case between Coinbase and the IRS involving a John Doe summons. And, you all were very quick to kind of respond to the IRS and point out places where you thought that perhaps they were over-reaching; and also there’s been a ruling here recently, that I think Peter, you wrote about, that is perhaps in favor of Coinbase customers and against the IRS. 

Can you all just fill us in on what it’s been like becoming involved in that and maybe some of these initial rulings that have come down that might be of interest to listeners interested in privacy? 

Jerry: Sure. So, we really haven’t been involved any more that any third party watching from afar and yelling at the cloud. I think what you’re referring to is, when the IRS first issued what’s a “John Doe Summons”, it’s the name for what they did, essentially telling Coinbase that they needed to turn over the names and personal information, including transaction histories of hundreds of thousands of their customers. When that first occurred, we immediately put out an op-ed in the American Banker where we explained that, essentially, this is a general warrant, which the Constitution explicitly prohibits. 

Among other things, that’s first and foremost, it’s a sweeping request for all kinds of information based on very, very thin predicate. One of the things that the IRS points to is the Huffington Post article saying that Bitcoin may be used for criminal activity, therefore give us the records of hundreds of thousands of people. So, aside from that, writing that op-ed and blogging about it here and there, we haven’t been too involved. At this point, we’re getting to a point in the court proceedings where there might be an opportunity for what’s called a Friend of the Court Brief to be filed and we may file one of those.

But some of the interesting things that have happened in the case is that essentially the summons, it’s a summons that the IRS gives to Coinbase and says, “Give us information about your customers.” Coinbase has very rightly said to the IRS, “No, we’re not gonna comply, we won’t give you that information.” At that point, the IRS has to go to the court and ask the court to enforce the summons; it’s not auto-enforced. So, now there is a case, US versus Coinbase. And Coinbase is basically saying this is over-broad.

At the same time, you have had customers who would be affected by this, whose information would be turned over, go to the court and say, we’d like to intervene in this case and become party to the case. And part of the reason for doing that ism while Coinbase is gonna do I think a very good job of fighting this case, ultimately, it’s not Coinbase’s  data that’s gonna be handed to the IRS, it’s going to be the customer’s data. And so, some customers may want their own lawyers, their own representation standing up for their rights.

And secondly, I think some people might think and it’s not unreasonable to think that Coinbase at some point might reach an agreement with the IRS to say, “Okay, we’ll comply and drop the case.” And so, again, a user might want to have their own representation there. So, the first thing you had is, you had one person file for intervention, go to the court and say, “We want to be a party to this case.” And what the IRS did, which was quite frankly underhanded is that the IRS said, you know what, we are retracting the summons and we are issuing a new summons which is all of those same people, minus this person. 

Mike: I remember, they basically said, now that you’ve identified yourself, you’re no longer a John Doe. 

Peter: You’re not a John Doe, so you’re not a part of who we’re suing, yeah.

Jerry: Which is incredibly underhanded. 

Peter: So, if everybody just comes forward and reveals themselves, the whole suit will go away, but that’s actually what the goal of the suit was. 

Jerry: And so what happened is, okay, fine, he’s out. But some other users have come forward and have come forward as John Does, and the court has shielded their names and they have now said, “We want to intervene.” And what happened most recently is that, number one, the IRS modified the terms of its summons, where now, they’re only seeking information about folks who have made transactions in excess of $20,000.

Peter: $20,000.

Jerry: So, that reduces the universe of people from hundreds of thousands to I’m not sure how many right now. Coinbase would know that with the numbers, I don’t think it’s meant to be public. So, that’s one thing. It makes the universe smaller, so it’s not such an over-reach. But at any event, what’s happened is that some of those John Doe interveners no longer fit the category, but there is one that still does and the court just approved the intervention. So, now you have an independent party to the case, so even if the Coinbase were to settle now and agree to enforce it with the IRS, you still now have a John Doe who will continue to fight the IRS.

And in granting that intervention, the court I think was very explicit in saying, look, the IRS is not making any good case why this isn’t incredibly over-broad. Following government’s logic, they can go to any bank and ask for anybody’s information at any time, for all customers’ information without any kind of warrant.

Peter: There are sort of two big constitutional issues here related to privacy law. Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the Fourth Amendment which protects our right against warrantless search and seizure. One is that, as Jerry mentioned earlier, warrants are supposed to have a certain amount of specificity. There is no warrant in this case, this is a summons because in fact, according to other aspects of constitutional privacy law, warrants aren’t even required in this situation because these business records are being held by a company, not by an individual. 

But anyway, if you look at this like a warrant, it’s incredibly broad. It’s the kind of warrant that we were basically revolting against back in the early days of the revolution. It’s where, you could in a sweeping decree get information about everyone in the city of Philadelphia and that’s problematic when you have literally half a million Coinbase customers who were affected by this summons, whose privacy is affected. And not just records of their transactions or the amount that they hold, but also details of their interactions with Coinbase support, possibly information who they were transacting with. So, with the mosaic theory of information privacy, you could gather together a ton of information about people.

As these networks grow to the extent where they’re used more day-to-day and transactionally as we definitely hope and expect them to ultimately grow, we need to set the right precedents now to protect privacy because if all that information is public - and that’s interesting because whether it’s public on a blockchain and if there’s a way to solve that or whether it’s public because of government spying - these networks simply aren’t gonna work. It’s too non-private.

The other constitutional law issue is what we call the third party doctrine, which is the reason why they can do it with a summons and not a warrant. Basically, there’s a history of case law that says, if you’ve given over business records or personal information or private information over to a third party, you have actually lost your reasonable expectation of privacy over that data. And therefore, the government can go to the person holding that data for you without a warrant and unilaterally summon that information from them rather than having to go to the judge and get a warrant which is a more difficult process. 

The third party doctrine was actually born in bank secrecy law, so the question of whether the government had the authority to just mandate that banks do certain amount of suspicious activity reporting or currency transaction reporting about their customers, whether that was constitutional, and the Supreme Court back in the 1970s said, “Yeah, you don’t need a warrant for that, you can just go get it.” 

Since then we’ve seen an avalanche of even more data being aggregated by third party intermediates, not just banks, but of course companies like Google with Gmail or any number of other web services you use who collect personal information about you and generally speaking, none of that information is subject to a warrant requirement because of this third party doctrine. 

So, the amount of information now at risk of being collected without a warrant has grown exponentially since we worked out that case law a long time ago, and it might be reasonable to re-investigate that case law now and say, “Wait a minute, the third party doctrine might have made sense back then, when people would have a few people, like an accountant or a bank holding information about them, but now that everyone uses the cloud for everything, we need to re-investigate whether we want to demand warrants before government is allowed to get access to third party data.” I think this is a great example, Coinbase has a ton of data, much more data about their customers than a normal bank does, because so much of that data is on their servers from people interacting with them every day, chat logs, records of transactions, all sorts of things.

And apparently, it doesn’t get constitutional protections under current jurisprudence, so it’s something that would be worth challenging. However, at the District Court level which we’re at right now, Constitutional arguments aren’t usually made. So, it may not be something that comes up now, it may not come up fully until it’s on appeal or things like that. But these are the underlying issues, I think they’re important. 


QS 22:08 Mike: Cool. I think it’s an interesting thing to follow and as somebody without a legal background, it’s nice to hear a legal perspective of that. I also listened to you talk a little bit and then you blogged about this recently, that the Uniform Law Commission voted to finalize and sign, you called it a Model State Law. Which was about regulation for virtual currency businesses. Can you talk about what that means? And then I think one or both of you might have been involved in kind of the crafting of that law. What does this mean for the greater space? 

Jerry: We’ve been working on this for two years. 

Peter: Over two years. 

Jerry: Over two years. I think the first thing you have to ask yourself is, is Bitcoin regulated? Or is Monero regulated? Right? Are cryptocurrencies regulated? And the answer sadly is yes. Not directly, because you really can’t regulate an open network, but what you can regulate are users of the technology or specific uses. And today, particular uses of cryptocurrencies are regulated by the states and it’s done state-by-state and you have different laws that apply depending on what state you’re in, or depending in what state you have customers. 

So, take for example the BitLicense, everybody has heard about the BitLicense. If you are in New York or if you have any customers in New York, the BitLicense applies to you. And this is the case in every state. If you are in California, the state’s money transmission licensing law applies to you. You can just go down the line. 

The state of nature is not no regulation, the baseline is that there are dozens of states that already have regulations on books, whether they are like the BitLicense that are specifically crafted with Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in mind, or whether they are money-transmission laws from the 70s but nevertheless cover cryptocurrency. And the problem is that these laws are not very clear. Did you want to say something? 

Peter: Yeah, so the only state that doesn’t have money-transmission licensing laws is Montana. Every other state and a few territories do, so that’s 53 different statutes that describe how people who engage in money transmission need to get licensed before they engage in that transmission with people in our state. Doesn’t matter if the company is based somewhere else, you need a license if you have customers in our state. And in every state, the definitions of two key terms is usually quite broad and amenable to flexible interpretation.

First is the definition of money or monetary value, and second would be the definition of transmitting money or monetary value. So, if the definition of monetary value is broad, which generally it is, it usually is something like currency, which is US dollars or a currency substitute which might be Bitcoin, might be Monero, might be Zcash, then you’re probably amenable to being subjected to that regulation, if a regulator wanted to push the issue. If they wanted to say, “Hey, we regulate PayPal, what is what you’re doing, how is it different than PayPal?” You’re doing it with Bitcoin, PayPal does it with dollars. 

The second question is what is money transmission? And that’s defined variously in every state, in some states it’s defined so broadly as to be something like money transmission is the facilitation of the transmission of money. It’s written that broadly because many of these statutes as Jerry suggested were written back in the 70s or 80s where the only way to be a money transmitter was to quite literally take some cash from one person, give them a money order, hold that cash, and then they cash the money order somewhere else to pay their electrical bill for example.

You’re actually taking custody, but the statute is not drafted about taking custody, the statue is drafted like, yeah, that’s a money transmitter. So, what you’re doing is money transmission, we’ll just define it as the facilitation of money transmission.

Jerry: And to be clear, the rationale, the purpose for these laws is to protect consumers, and to protect consumers because you have certain businesses like check cashers, like Western Union type money transmitters, like money-order business, that are not banks, because banks are regulated separately in a different way. They’re not banks, but they’re nevertheless in the business of at least momentarily holding consumer funds. It’s a custody of consumer funds, if only for a little bit, only for a day or two, in order to facilitate some transmission. 

And so as a result of holding onto that money, they put themselves in a position of trust because while they’re holding that money they can go out of business, they can run away, they can be hacked, etc. And so…

Peter: That’s the justification for this licensing requirement, because only people who we’ve previously identified with a permission should be allowed to engage in this risky behavior. Now, we’re not advocating for that policy, but that is a policy that has existed as Jerry said since the 1970s in most states. 

Jerry: Okay, so we’re giving you a lot of background before we get to the ULC Model Act, because it’s important. Because it’s important to know that his ULC Model Act doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from this baseline understanding of law that every state has some version of money transmission.

Peter: And the fundamental question, so there’s two definitions. The definition of money, does it include virtual currency, or monetary value? Almost always is what my answer to that would be. The second question, what about this definition of money transmission, the facilitation of transmission of money or monetary value? In a state with a broad definition like that, it’s hard to imagine how a company like Coinbase for example or Xapo wouldn’t fit into that definition. But it’s also hard to imagine how if somebody wanted to push that definition’s application, how would you say that a miner actually doesn’t fit that definition?

Mike: You know, or a full node operator. 

Peter: Or a full node operator, or BitGo who makes a multi-sig Bitcoin wallet and holds one key out of three. There is absolutely no clarity with respect to any of those activities, and those activities along with just designing the core software or designing software wallets are some of the most innovative activities in this space. And because those old laws are drafted so broadly, we think and I think rightly so, all of those activities are in jeopardy of it being mandated that people doing those activities get a license and if they fail to get a license, then there are serious criminal penalties if somebody wanted to go after a person doing those things.

Jerry: And even if it’s never mandated, you just have always this sword hanging above you and it’s just gonna discourage people from running a full node. Why should I run a full node if there’s even a chance that one state is gonna say I was practicing money transmission without a license and then I can go to jail. If a prosecutor wanted to find something to get me on, that’s something they could get me on. 

Okay. So, that’s the state of the world, you have all these states, all these states have these money transmission licensing laws on the books, they are all unclear and could be applied to full nodes for example among many other kinds of people. And it’s just this lack of clarity. We had gone on an ad-hoc basis state-by-state when we’ve known that a state is interested about learning more or updating their law or making sure they’re not…

Peter: Making sure that they do cover virtual currency as some states have wanted to do like New York, but also California and a few others that we’ve met with.

Jerry: Right, so and when we do that, sometimes we have great success. We’ll go, we chatted with Illinois a little over a year ago when they were first considering doing this, we chatted with them and told them what their options were, and the ultimate result in Illinois is that the regulators said, “We are interpreting the word ‘monetary value’ to not include digital currency. So, we’re only concerned about fiat.” So, if you’re Coinbase and you hold fiat for consumers as well as Bitcoin, you need to get a license because you’re holding fiat. But if you are offering a service that never touches fiat, you don’t need a license, you’re good to go in Illinois. That’s our preferred solution, so we’re glad that we were able to get to that early.

Peter: And they issued guidance making that very clear.

Jerry: So, that’s great. But in every other state, where you haven’t had a clear statement like that, you have this ambiguity. And what the Uniform Law Commission does, as the name suggests, it is a body of academics and legal practitioners that are all volunteers, it’s a private body, that’s very well-respected and what they do, when they see areas of law that are starting to go… The states are going in disparate ways, what they’ll do is they’ll form a committee to look at that area of law and see if there’s a way to reconcile, figure out what’s the best practice and draft a model state act. 

And, you might be familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code, it is the law that governs contracts and every state in the nation has adopted the Uniform Commercial Code which is why contract law is the same in every state and this is the product of the ULC. That’s probably the most successful uniform act. But they had acts for every other kind of area of law that you could imagine. I think I saw a uniform adoption…

Peter: Parentage was hotly debated because of the issue of same-sex couples.

Jerry: Right, so you have these for everything. About two years ago, the Uniform Law Commission seeing that the states were going in every different direction, you have the BitLicense over here which they recognized was a terrible model and something to be avoided. They put together a drafting committee and we were very lucky to be a part of that. We filed about half a dozen comments with the committee; Peter attended every single one of the drafting–

Peter: Meetings.

Jerry: Meetings. 

Peter: And our goal throughout the whole process was to make sure if a new law is coming either at the ULC as a model law or at any state that decides that they do want to explicitly cover virtual currency…

Jerry: It’s important to note that whether we were a part of this or not, the ULC was gonna come out with a model.

Peter: They were gonna come out anyway. Regardless of if a new law is coming, these ambiguities that we worry most about, to make sure that non-custodial people innovating with the technology, or running full nodes or mining, that they are not covered in the license, that it was crystal clear that they wouldn’t be covered. So, there’s a few things, pieces of language that we strongly advocated for in that model act and the commissioners I think, who were all roundly intelligent, smart, and actually quite caring individuals with respect to innovation and the technology, came around pretty quickly to the language we were suggesting when we explained why it was necessary. 

And the language we suggested always related to control. It’s a defined term in that act, and control is defined with respect to somebody holding virtual currency for somebody else. Doing an activity, and it’s defined carefully to be limited only, you only have control over someone else’s virtual currency when you can unilaterally execute or indefinitely prevent a transaction on someone else’s behalf. And our reasoning for that is there are all kinds of people who have some involvement in the facilitation of money moving on these networks.

Miners, they put transactions in blocks. In a very real way, they do actually create transaction immortalization, but at no point can they unilaterally create a transaction for someone else. They just take an already signed transaction and put it into a block.

Jerry: Right, at no point do they ever put themselves in a position of trust. That is the rationale for a licensure. 

Peter: And at no point can they prevent a transaction indefinitely.  A miner actually can for 10 minutes if they’re the one that were chose to get the block reward for that 10 minute period in Bitcoin, or a different period in a different cryptocurrency, but not indefinitely. So, they’re clearly excluded. Also excluded would be someone like BitGo who builds a multi-sig wallet product. Also clearly excluded would be a full node because they’re just relaying signed transaction messages.

Jerry: Or blockchain.info.

Peter: Or blockchain.info, a software wallet. Also excluded would be a cross-chain atomic swap if you were going to build an exchange platform that was literally trustless, that didn’t involve custody. So, we feel like we’ve opened up this big area of innovation and made clear in this law, in the drafting of this law that those things are not subject to licensing and I think that’s unprecedented because every other state law governing money transmission as well as the BitLicense, as well as the drafts we’ve seen for virtual currency-specific licensing in California, they’ve been too vague on this question. And that’s, I think a huge liability especially if someone can convince someone that you do fit into a broad definition and if they’re a prosecutor, they can nail you five years in jail for you, your investors, your employees. Because the criminal penalties are severe, so I think we need to be super careful to make sure that it’s clear that certain companies and businesses and activities aren’t covered in that definition.

The Uniform Law Commission after two years was very amenable to that, they said, yeah, they goal was just to regulate companies like Xapo and Coinbase, that was our remit and it was to promote innovation broadly in this space. They were super-receptive once they understood the complexities of the issue, and I really think this is a great model. It still needs to be actually shared with all the state legislatures who are interested in regulating these activities and then those interested legislatures like maybe hopefully California or maybe hopefully Pennsylvania who have already gone don’t this road a little bit, they’ll decide to pass it into law in their states.

Mike: And that’s something that the ULC then follows through with or how does that carry on? 

Peter: Yeah. That’s something, so the ULC now has an enactment committee that will go and try use their members in various states to promote this legislation.


QS 35:44 Mike: Okay. So, I think that covers one of the big focuses of maybe what you all are looking at in terms of consumer protection, but then also with privacy, there’s kind of another section and Peter I heard you refer to it as financial surveillance law, most people just know it as anti-money laundering. And I think that’s a really interesting topic specifically when we’re talking about things like Monero, things like Zcash. And that’s kind of one of the key focuses I wanted to talk about here today.

With a company like Coinbase, it seems straightforward enough that Coinbase is able to track through various coin-tracking techniques what their customers are doing with their funds and where funds are coming from and where they’re going to and take care of anti-money laundering related issues. But with something like Monero or Zcash, that’s all opaque. And what does that then mean in terms of what these companies might need to do? And does it make things easier for them or does it actually make things harder for them because there’s no clear way to track people’s funds? 

Peter: It’s important to be clear what your anti-money laundering obligations are. And whether they even apply to you. So, the same question whether you’re a money transmitter at a state level or not is repeated at the federal level. The federal regulator for anti-money laundering, financial surveillance activities is FinCEN, which is a division of the US Department of Treasury.

And they issued guidance in 2013 that suggests that anyone who’s an exchanger of virtual currencies is regulated under the bank secrecy act, which is the law that mandates that you do certain things. You could pejoratively say spy on your users; you could optimistically say interdict terrorist funds, prevent money laundering, and these things. And you have specific obligations then if you fit into that category of exchangers which fits you into the bank secrecy act. 

Those obligations are specific, though. The obligations are not things like you need to sign up for Coinalytics or Chainalysis and track the blockchain, of course not, these things were written in the 70s, 80s and amended by the Patriot Act. They had no mention of blockchain back then and wouldn’t be able to.

But you do have to do other things. You’d have to basically if you open an account for somebody; you have to collect information about them, know-your-customer information. You have to do suspicious activity reporting. So, if there’s a transaction that’s over $2,000 in value and there’s something strange about it, now query what that is, but there are standards, you have to actually file a suspicious activity report to FINCEN which will then be shared as necessary with Law Enforcement. You have to have reasonable customer identification program to hopefully arrive at an understanding of who your customers actually are, who’s benefiting from a transaction, these sorts of things. It’s not entirely clear that you need to know who your customer’s customers are under the bank secrecy act.

So, there are usually obligations that if you have information about who your customer is paying, that needs to be, you need to keep those records. But if your customer didn’t provide that information, that’s not necessarily your obligation because the person they’re transacting with isn’t your customer, so it may be unreasonable to actually require information about that. So, there’s usually and if you have the information you have to record, if you don’t, you don’t. Now, that’s maybe where Chainalysis fits in, if you can obtain the information about your customer’s customer, maybe you should have it. But it’s important to point out that it’s not a mandate that you obtain that information.

So, from a pure black-letter law standpoint, there is no reason why a company like Coinbase or Xapo would be less able to comply with Anti-Money Laundering law if they were using Zcash or Monero instead of Bitcoin or Ether. Just because the blockchain is more opaque, does not mean that that destroys your ability to comply. Now, that’s the black-letter law analysis. There may be business concerns, or regulatory risk concerns, public relations concerns that these exchanges have, but one thing that we’ve always really wanted to stress is like, look…

Let’s say an exchange decided to start trading Zcash for dollars, as long as the people who they set Zcash accounts up for or Monero accounts up for or Ether accounts up for, as long as they collect information about those people that they’re supposed to, and they file suspicious activity reports, that’s fine. There’s no law that says that they can’t deal with those other currencies. 


QS 40:44 Mike: Cool. Okay, kind of going in that same vein then, I think it’s clear to the people who are listening, it’s clear to us, some of these distinctions and how maybe that would then apply, but when y’all are talking then with people on The Hill and lawmakers, I know you’ve talked specifically about Zcash on The Hill, but do they even have an appreciation for some of these distinctions? And kind of coupled with that, when they hear about something like Zcash or Monero, that can totally make all transaction history opaque, are they still receptive to that like they might be to an open ledger like Bitcoin or Ether?

Jerry: I think it’s something that they’re beginning to think about. I think just to date, just by, because this is the point of history where we are Bitcoin has been sort of the dominant cryptocurrency, and it’s been a dominant cryptocurrency for elicit uses and as a result that has garnered most of the attention. I think that more privacy-protecting cryptocurrencies are now coming obviously to attention of Law Enforcement and eventually will come more and more to the attention of policy makers, so I don’t think that we’ve seen a clear reaction just yet. 

That said, I think that they understand a couple of things. I think they understand that the relative size of cryptocurrency to cash being used for illicit uses, it’s miniscule. It’s relatively small compared to cash, and compared to other means of money laundering, etc. And so, I think that they will continue to place the appropriate emphasis in the right places. I think that’s one piece.

I also think that they understand a lot of the benefits of this technology. This is something that Peter has pointed out. The fact is that privacy-enhancing technology doesn’t just benefit criminals, it can, but it benefits the public much more, and that’s the message that we have to convey. And I think you have members of Congress that are very receptive to that message, who in fact are, when we explained to them something like Bitcoin, what they say to us, “That’s too transparent. You’ll be able to see everybody’s transactions, you’ll be able to see how much I’m getting paid and where I’m shopping.”

And then we say, actually, that’s a problem that’s obvious and folks have been working on and we see new technologies that are coming. You have other members of Congress who, their problem is not so much with the privacy, although that’s part of it, their problem at root is gonna be with the censorship resistance inherent in all cryptocurrency. And that’s something that’s just the cat’s out of the bag on that one.

And again, that’s a message that we just need to convey. That, look, what we need to do, what you need to do is focus on combating the elicit uses of the technology, not focus on the technology itself.

Peter: Yeah. One of the things that we’ve tried to communicate, as clearly as possible even though it’s a very dense subject is why open blockchains matter. And that was in part a response to a lot of the development of enterprise-level blockchain solutions that we were worried would garner the attention of policy makers to the detriment of the open technologies. They would say, now that we have this sanitized Bitcoin without the Bitcoin, that’s the technology, that’s the root innovation, we don’t have to worry about the policy issues facing the open stuff and maybe we could even regulate it or destroy it or things like that.

No one ever suggested that, but that was our concern. So, one of our big papers that I focused on was a paper called “Open Matters” where I try and talk about the Internet of Things, the identity use cases for blockchain, the cash uses for blockchain and the need maybe for just a simple cash-like settlement tool rather than some sort of bank consortium tool. And why for any of those networks, especially though for identity and Internet of Things controlled devices, you want an open network because if you have a closed network, you just re-invent all the same problems of centralized control, of censorship, of anti-competitive behavior of all sorts of things.

And one question that obviously comes up then is, “Okay, in the open networks, aren’t they less private?” That’s something you actually hear from people in government. If we were to build a blockchain for health records for example, because it’s something that people and government are interested in and sounds like a compelling use case, if we were to do that on an open network, wouldn’t that be terrible because everyone’s health data is public? 

Then the first thing to say to that person is, keep in mind the documents aren’t on the blockchain, just the access control, permissions and any logs of access. So, the documents themselves and servers are still client-side and encrypted and things like that. But the second thing to say is, well, look, you don’t want them on a closed loop because then how do we get everyone to buy into the same system? You have the same problems of getting all the hospitals to collaborate on the same enterprise solution and some won’t and some will go with the competitor and these sorts of things. 

You have a privacy problem no matter what because hospitals get hacked, so if it’s a “private blockchain” - I’m doing scare quotes right now - and somebody obtained the signing keys necessary to get access to that private network, then you don’t have privacy anymore, and if it’s truly a blockchain where all the records are on there, even if it’s private to a closed consortium, somebody hacks that system, they get access to that data. So, what we need is an open system and one that is privacy-protecting and there are only a handful of technologists who we’ve worked in this space. People who have developed mixing services and ultimately mixing blockchains like Monero, and there’s the people working on zero knowledge proofs, like Zcash.

And this is where there is fundamental innovation in this space. So, even if you think, yes, these things sometimes are marketed as, or branded as, or misconstrued as purely the tools of criminals, these are also the foundational technologies that will enable the kinds of things that we want. Things like better health records, more portable health records, things like better digital identity tools, things like better control over our Internet of Things devices, so our smart car just doesn’t unlock itself when a stranger walks into it or something.

And we’ll need technologies like Monero and Zcash in order to enable that future. And just like any other technology, it will be used for good and for evil and on net; I think it will be used for good. So, that’s been where we try and bring the conversation to when people ask us about these new blockchain technologies is that they are fundamentally important and they may make some things more difficult, as some technologies always have, but they’re gonna make a lot of things more accessible, better, easier.


QS 47:31 Mike: Sure. Okay, I’ve got two follow-ups to that. First off, is that I saw the “Open Maters” paper and when you write a document like that, who is your target, are you trying to get that information to lawmakers, or who is the intended reader there? 

Jerry: The impetus for that particular paper is that early on there was a lot of focus on Bitcoin; it was pretty clear what we were talking about. Then the conversation shifted to blockchain and then the conversation got muddied because folks on Capitol Hill, at different regulatory agencies, would ask you questions about blockchain, but it wasn’t clear that they understood what kind of blockchain they were talking about, or what exactly. 

So, they might say something like, “We’re not interested in cryptocurrency, in fact, we’re not interested in talking about that, we’re interested in DLT…” Or whatever they might say, “We’re interested in something that is closed, but the reason why we like it is because it’s immutable.” 

Peter: And interoperable.

Jerry: And interoperable, and we wanted to have proof that it’s… And you’re like, okay, take a step back; we need to walk you through some things. So, we had the conversation so many times, we decided we needed to… And we felt because… People began, there was a point in time where I think folks in government began to see, “Wow, this blockchain innovation that Bitcoin brought along hold a lot of promise, but boy, we don’t like that Bitcoin part of it.” So, and now we see there are some folks who’re telling us we can have blockchain without the Bitcoin.

Mike: And when they say without the Bitcoin, they really mean without the coin at all, Bitcoin, or Ethereum, or Monero or anything.

Jerry: They’re ruling out the coin.  Which you can, you could do something like that.

Peter: Although it looks a lot like Paxos, like a consensus mechanism developed in 1980s for reconciling databases.

Jerry: Sure, and that’s fine, but I think they were still thinking that they could do many of the things that blockchain, with a coin, an open network could do. 

Peter: Things like the purported immutability or at least the weight behind things, the difficulty of changing it, the verifiability, the public verifiability, but it’s a lot of muddied thinking.

Jerry: Yeah, and just having that conversation so many times, and being concerned that folks were missing that there were a few, the most interesting innovative things this technology makes possible are only possible on open blockchain networks is why we decided to work on this paper.

Peter: That and also the privacy stuff. So, there’s a big section in that paper and if you’re interested, I’d say find that section on just the privacy aspects of open-blockchain networks, that basically goes through like, look, “Open blockchain technology is not a good solution for a lot of applications if you need privacy if you’re talking about Bitcoin because that’s simply true.” It’s far too public and transparent, it might be good for something that you want public audit-ability on, but it wouldn’t be good for something like identity.

You shouldn’t be able to query a public record and learn everything about you, Mike, without having your permission to see that information first. But, we say, Bitcoin is just the beginning of open blockchain networks. There’s a series of follow on innovations that either deal with mixing or with zero knowledge proofs, and we go through, we talk about Zcash, we talk about confidential transactions, which was new when we wrote the paper, baking that into Bitcoin.

We talk about how there are ways to actually have global consensus over the veracity or the validity of some data without revealing all of that data publicly to everyone. And that’s effectively what these networks do. They allow someone to feel comfortable that they have actually received some money from someone else without there being a clear and easily parsed record for third parties of seeing that particular change in the distribution of wealth on the network. 

That’s Monero, that’s Zcash, and the same thing would be a necessary technology to bake into say something like an Internet of Things or identity-based blockchain such that when a DMV gives me a token for me to be able to prove that I have a driver’s license and I have brown hair and blue eyes, I have that token and the ability to prove that I’ve had that attestation made about me, but someone looking at the public blockchain doesn’t know, “Oh, Peter just got a brand new driver’s license. I see when this party on the network issued it to this party on the network.” 

It’s very hard to communicate all of this to policy makers, though, but we definitely wanted to start opening this conversation because it’s important as Jerry said, to make sure that everyone knows that a lot of the innovation is coming still from the open sector and it’s important not to disregard that sector of the technology.

Mike: Right. Okay, so then, you’ve said it twice now and because of what you all do, being this research and advocacy group, I think it’s important - both because my listeners might hang me but then also just because I think it’s important to open up this dialogue - when you say mixing, I think it’s important to note for anybody who doesn’t know this, is that Monero is not mixing in the sense that a mixer mixes, or Dash might mix where they take multiple transactions and they slur them all around and then spit them back out. Ring Signatures is a little different and if you want after the episode, or in the future, I’m happy to talk with you offline about some of those differences. 

Peter: That would be great.

Mike: Because I think that terminology is probably not accurate for talking about Monero. 

Jerry: And you’ll be happy to know that I don’t think we’ve ever talked about Monero to anybody in government. 

Peter: No.

Mike: I’m sure somebody that’s listening probably just high-fived their friend right now.


QS 53:30 Mike: But kind of with that, this is a nice segue to maybe what can be the last question potentially. When we first got in touch, you expressed a lot of interest in the interview, but you also said you thought it would be good to start reaching out to the Monero community or to Monero developers, because you already have this relationship with for instance Zcash and you already have a relationship with the Ethereum Foundation, and some other of these groups… But you said that you’d maybe like to start building a bridge there with the Monero community.

What are the types of things that the community or the development team or individuals like myself might be able to do in order to start building a connection there? 

Jerry: Yeah, so obviously we started at a time when Bitcoin was kind of like the only game in town. 

Mike: Right, and Monero was tiny.

Jerry: I’m even thinking like back in the first hearings in 2013. It was just Bitcoin. And when we were formed really, one of the reasons why we were formed is that there was just increasing demand from folks in government about information about Bitcoin in particular and that grew as I said into blockchain broadly and other cryptocurrencies. And so we’ve been focused on Bitcoin although it’s important to note that any law or any regulation, there is no regulations that are going to be passed that singles out Bitcoin or Monero. It’s always gonna be in terms of virtual currency which is what the government calls it.

Peter: And really in terms of activities that people do with it or don’t do with it. So, they’re gonna focus on that.

Jerry: Yeah. So, we’re really coin-agnostic because the government is too. So, as you say, we’ve just had, just initially a lot of… We’ve come from the Bitcoin world. The Ethereum world grew up around with a lot of the Bitcoin people, Zcash folks, so Zooko, somebody who just became a good personal friend. And that community emerged around it. And we haven’t had that much connection with the Monero community. We don’t have any formal way. But we’re accessible.

If folks want to reach out, we certainly encourage support of our work. We also, you know, on our website we try to have in plain English, explanations of different pieces of technology, we welcome maybe doing something like that.

Peter: Yeah, background on ring signatures would actually be a pretty useful contribution actually. Basically most of the connections we’ve made in the space are either people who came forward because they wanted to support our work or we had a specific question from a policy maker one day and we didn’t have an answer. So, we said, “Okay, who can answer this really well?” In just like a 2,000 word document or who can come testify maybe at this committee and things like that. So, we do periodically reach out to the community and that’s how we’ve established most of our relationships with people out there. And I think it’s always fairly fruitful.

Everything we do is public; it’s all on our website, so you can see the fruits of those relationships. It’s true, Zooko wrote our Zcash background. Vitalik wrote our Ethereum background. In both cases, I think those were situations where we had someone specifically starting to ask about what is this, like, Ethereum, why is there this and what is a smart contract? There’s a lot of ways to misconstrue and not understand what Ethereum is so it was great to have Vitalik be willing to just write 2,000 words. 

Jerry: And these would be people that somebody asked, we mean folks on Capitol Hill, at the SEC, at Treasury, they just ask us and at some point we’re like, “Okay, we’re getting this question frequently enough that it would be great to have something that we can just hand them.” 

Peter: The other important thing to keep in mind is, folks in government are gonna get the information in one way or another and I think it’s critically important that people’s first perception or at least second perception of something new is a positive one if there’s real positive stories to be told. And across the open blockchain space there are extremely positive stories to be told. And it’s a shame if a policy maker focuses only on a dark market or only on something negative about the technology.

So, being able to actually get that information on the table, I think it’s hugely useful. Someone once said to me, like, “it’s better to be at the table than on the table,” which I think is pretty right when it comes to policy making here in DC. Most bad policy is made out of ignorance, not malice, is something we’ve discovered working in this space.

People have always said, oh, are the big banks coming and lobbying Congress to destroy this technology? We’ve never seen any evidence of that. And if anyone was gonna see it, I think it would probably be us. In general, most of the issues we find in this space are situations where like with our description of state money transmission licensing, the law was just drafted really broadly and then somebody who doesn’t even maybe know anything about the technology is tasked with enforcing that law, with this new business, this thing that’s popped up and if they’re not given a friendly way to understand it, they’re much more likely to do things that are gonna be bad for the space. So, it’s good to build bridges I think.

Mike: Cool, cool. I mean, the main reason I wanted to talk with y’all is that it seems that you are building some of this knowledge base to pass on to lawmakers and you are kind of doing things the right way and in the interest of users. And then, specifically, with privacy-related things, you and I maybe do or don’t agree on what technology best gives somebody privacy, but yeah, we’re kind of in the same boat. If people want to use the dark markets, whatever, but I’m interested in privacy-related issues because at the extreme, somebody’s life might depend on having privacy. 

But even just one of the three of us might be interested in it - like the Congressmen and lawmakers that you were talking with - if our information is just out there, and who we’ve transacted with and how much money we have, and everything else, the guy charging you rent for your apartment might up your rent because he knows you have more money or whatever else. 

So, the technology is fascinating and it’s nice that you guys are doing this. And yeah, maybe something can come out to hopefully build a relationship here. Because a lot of these stories here recently with the dark net markets, just two of them getting taken down within the last couple of weeks, Monero has been in the news a lot. As a matter of fact, there was even a little footnote, that like, “We took this much Bitcoin, and this much Ether, and this much Zcash, and we’re not sure how much Monero yet.” 

Peter: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.

Mike: And that stirred a little bit of interest among some communities. And if the only thing that people know about Monero for instance is, oh, it’s used by AlphaBay, that’s not in anybody’s interest, I don’t think, from a regulation side. 

Peter: On the technology side of it, which technology is better for privacy, we say weren’t gonna get into it; I don’t actually have strong… I’m not a cryptographer, I’ve come to learn about these things second-hand through people who I’ve established a relationship and I trust and I believe they’re doing the right thing. But the thing that I noticed that I think is most important is that there are multiple approaches and if anything, that’s more than anything else, Coin Center I think hopes to advocate for. 

It’s not for one solution; it’s for one sector of technology called Open Blockchain Networks. But if we end up in a world where Bitcoin becomes dominant, but people aren’t allowed to start Monero or aren’t allowed to start the thing that comes after Zcash and Monero, the third thing that we don’t even know about now, that’s a disaster for us. Coin Center has lost.

Jerry: We failed, yeah.

Peter: We’ve failed. So, we need the dynamism, we need the competition because there could be something deadly wrong with Zero Knowledge proofs, or there could be something deadly wrong Ring Signatures, or there could be something deadly wrong with MimbleWimble  or Confidential Transactions. And we need to find the right one and find it soon because as we race towards the future where all of our information is on server somewhere, we need better ways of reconciling that information across distributed databases without making it public.

Mike: And you know, this podcast is called the Monero Monitor, but part of that is that I’m more familiar with Monero than some of these other technologies; part of it is that I think that at present day it’s maybe the best one if somebody really needed privacy. But I’ll be honest, if something comes along like MimbleWimble that provides better privacy, that’s what I’m interested in. Monero is a tool and it happens to be something that can give some privacy today, but it’s really all about protecting this space in general, and protecting people’s privacy.

Jerry: And by the way, it’s not just privacy for me anyway, it’s also fungibility. You know, not to get too Sci-Fi, but I think at some point we might see attempts to eliminate cash. If we move to a purely digital economy, we have to retain the ability to have cash that is fungible and private. 

Peter: The other ideological concern is - we always talk about privacy - is autonomy. That’s censorship-resistance or the ability to know that you’ll always be able to take an action that’s consequential to your life without somebody always being able to step in and intercede.

Jerry: Or see it without somebody’s permission. 

Peter: Without someone’s permission. 

Jerry: If we move to a world and this is funny because Bitcoin and the fact that Bitcoin has spurred the greater blockchain idea and that has just sparked a lot of thinking from folks who are not interested in censorship resistant open blockchain networks, not interested in that, but the idea that you can have peer-to-peer digital transactions. That has sparked a lot of thinking.

And throughout banks, throughout financial sector and in one area where it’s really sparked is in central banks. And in central banks you’re now having serious conversations about maybe we should have national digital currencies. And what they mean by that is not a true peer-to-peer token that would be passed along the way like a hundred dollar bill, what they mean are basically personal accounts at the central bank. That’s what they mean. And if you do that, then at that point, there’s no transaction in which you can engage, by which I mean there’s no action you can take as a human that wouldn’t have to be permissioned by the state. 

So, at any moment you can imagine that there could be a warrant issued for your arrest and you would just be turned off from the central bank computer. And you wouldn’t be able to hail a cab or get on a subway. 

Mike: Well and I mean, fungibility can even be something as innocuous as, with my podcast I’m trying not to do any kind of advertising or anything like that. It’s a donation model and on my website I have an address that you can donate to. But I would love to take Bitcoin for instance, but I don’t because I quite frankly don’t want to deal with worrying about where might this Bitcoin have come from, what might it be tied to. And maybe today it’s not a big deal, but you never know at some point you hear all kinds of stories about people who, because Bitcoin is not fungible, what then that leads to as far as some type of an action by law enforcement or whoever else. Even just Coinbase shutting down their account. So, it’s something that probably hampers my ability to raise funds, but at the same time it’s just a choice I made, something that I don’t want to have to worry about, because fungibility matters. 

Peter: And then right to build these networks is one other thing I wanted to mention because that’s not privacy issue, that’s a free-speech issue. Because at the end of the day, the Monero core protocol is just computer code, and code is speech, there’s good judicial precedent on that, and so I think we have strong value of that here in the US, a desire to protect that activity and to not have government capable of placing prior restraint on speech. Basically saying you simply can never publish something related to this or to that.

And it came up back in the 90s with the crypto wars where basically RSA or any other encryption algorithm was considered a munition, a weapon, and therefore subject to export control laws. But you can publish these things on T-shirts and Adam Back actually printed a line of T-shirts with the RSA source code basically encoded onto it. 

If you walked across the border with this T-shirt you were trading ammunitions. And it just hit home a point and fortunately, we won the crypto wars basically the first time around. The ability to create those new technologies and share them was treated as free speech and no longer subject to that kind of prior restraint that you had in export control laws. The same thing might happen again with respect to these technologies. There might come a day where someone says, “I don’t want that thing out there, I don’t want that software out there, you can’t develop that software, you can’t live in the US and develop that software.” That would also be a massive loss for us. So, privacy, free speech, these are the things that I think fundamentally motivate us, and we hope we’re doing a good job.

Mike: Awesome, well, we’ve already talked a little bit about how maybe people might be able to become involved; can you tell the listeners how they actually could get in contact with you or where they should go? 

Jerry: Sure, go to CoinCenter.org and you’ll find all the information about us, about our work, how you can support us. Sign up for our newsletter, follow us, get in touch with us. 

Mike: I know you’re both on Twitter and there are links from CoinCenter.org to your Twitter accounts, so if people are interested in that, that’s there too. Well, unless you guys have anything else, do you want to just call it a day? 

Jerry: Yeah, sounds good, thanks for coming.

Peter: Thanks, Mike.

~~ { Closing Music } ~~