A 'Funky A.T.M.' Lets You Pay for Purchases Made Online
nobody at dizum.com
Fri Jul 25 22:40:08 PDT 2003
One point being overlooked here is digital versus physical anonymity.
The "funky" ATM (what, does it smell or something?) will allow you to
(among other things) stick in some cash and let someone else withdraw it
using a password which you have sent him out of band (according to the
patent - which I've actually read, more than anyone else here can say).
This will allow for digital anonymity in the sense that there is no
account information associated with the transaction.
Now, it's true that ATMs take pictures of people, so you don't have
full physical anonymity. But given the limited reliability of facial
recognition systems, especially if you take simple precautions like
wearing a hat and tilting your head down, you can have de facto very
strong anonymity putting money into or taking it out of an ATM. The mere
fact that it takes your picture doesn't mean that much.
It's also true that the amount of cash that could be practically
transfered in this way is limited to a few thousand dollars at most, given
that the machines will probably only accept and dispense twenty dollar
bills or equivalent. Nevertheless such payments would be a good start.
The ability to pay or receive a few thousand dollars, untraceably, would
enable a number of interesting applications involving freedom of speech
and action. Writing custom software or providing sensitive information
could be funded at these levels.
The point which has been mostly overlooked is that this article was
nothing but vapor, based on the issuance of a patent. There's a huge
barrier between the idea and the implementation. A cash-transfer ATM
would be a true boon to cypherpunk goals, but it is doubtful whether
such a system will be allowed to exist in today's world.
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