Edward Snowden, the global surveillance whistleblower, said he turned to bitcoin for a more private means of transacting prior to blowing the whistle.
“As a privacy advocate, I would recommend no one ever say that they have cryptocurrencies,” Snowden said before further adding:
“When I was working on the sort of great project of my life back in 2013, trying to figure out things like how could I get this archive of material to journalists, how could I persuade them that this is real, that this is practical, how could they see things in a safe way that’s controlled, that’s unseen, that happens permissionlessly, there’s a question of: well, do I need a server infrastructure that’s my own?
Maybe the answer is yes. Ok how do I pay for that anonymously? Maybe, maybe someone like me may have used bitcoin for something like that.”
Snowden further spoke out against crypto-tribalism, emphasizing that the entire space was currently very small. And further said bitcoin will likely be replaced by something better.
“When we look at the core development team and their rate of improvement to the protocol, they simply need to do better or they will not be able to compete,” he said.
It is quite interesting that during the wide ranging interview Snowden did not once mention ethereum, but professed he is a fan of Zcash, a crypto developed by a number of respected professional cryptographers with emphasis on privacy.
The only other crypto he mentioned was Monero, which too focuses on privacy. “I’ve used Monero just like everyone else,” he said.
He further argued that the public ledger nature of public blockchains is “simply incompatible with having an enduring mechanism for trade. You cannot have a lifelong history of everyone’s purchases, all of their interactions, be available to everyone and have that workout well at scale.”
So seemingly contradicting himself because regarding his own bitcoin purchase and its relationship to privacy he said the question was whether he acquired the bitcoin in an anonymous or non-anonymous way.
Asked of backdoors, Snowden said we are not seeing the Satoshi blocks move. So suggesting crypto is pretty secure and unbreakable.
He more generally spoke in defense of privacy, stating minority opinions are what has allowed so much human progress, with Snowden arguing privacy was necessary for an open and free society.
While asked on the apparent irony of him residing in Russia, he said he was on exile, that he did not choose Russia, and that he wanted to be an example to other potential whistleblowers to show they do not have to end up in prison.