[Freedombox-discuss] FreedomBox and Bitcoin (and the petition)

Melvin Carvalho melvincarvalho at gmail.com
Mon Nov 12 00:59:57 PST 2012

On 12 November 2012 09:32, Daniel Pocock <daniel at pocock.com.au> wrote:

> I'm just wondering if anybody has done any analysis of the suitability
> of Bitcoin for FreedomBox?

Bitcoin is quite resource intensive, the block chain is large and growing,
so to set it up takes time.  On a small plug computer this is quite a bit
of work and may be tricky (i dont know if you could renice it).  Then you
need to open a few ports, and also you'll become a target for people
wanting to steal your wallet.dat (either from the web or your own house!).
If those hurdles can be overcome, there could be a good match.

> For example, Bitcoin provides a certain amount of anonymity, but not
> complete privacy.  In other words, anybody can create an anonymous
> Bitcoin account, but anyone else can trace the movements of Bitcoins
> through that account.  Does this lack of 100% privacy make it awkward
> for FreedomBox to include Bitcoin?

The block chain is public, but you can have a new key for each

> What Bitcoin does excel at is providing an alternative money supply.  In
> previous eras of bank failure (e.g. over 9,000 US banks went pop in the
> 1930s) people reverted to gold and silver.  Nowadays, so many of us are
> involved in businesses that rely on ecommerce and distant clients paying
> for virtual/intangible services.  Most trade relies on electronic
> payment by bank transfer or credit card, not a physical meeting with
> cash.  Iceland's banks went pop and it's been speculated that Greek
> banks will go the same way when they leave the Euro.  It seems like
> fertile ground for a solution like Bitcoin deployed on a convenient
> platform like FreedomBox.

There's over 200 alternative money supplies and more growing.  One
possibility is to focus on one of them (bitcoin is probably the poster
child) another is to stitch many together in exchanges etc.

> There is also the diversity of businesses supported by Bitcoin - it can
> be very difficult for a business to start accepting credit card
> payments, banks often insist that the business already has capital or
> real estate.  But any start-up business can accept Bitcoin payment
> without such discrimination.

This is a system that goes back 100s of years to the time of horse and
cart, it wont be replaced overnight.   There's over 1000 bitcoin merchants
now and many exchanges.

I think what would be extremely valuable would be a freedombox economy
where people get credits for helping each other out.  e.g. with valuable
services such as VPN, storage, encrypted backup, routing ... all the stuff
that Amazon EC2 offers (which fbx could securely replace).  This paradigm
works well in, for example, private torrent networks.

Once you can offer value, either for free or as a service, the feasibility
of a currency becomes more valid.  I'd love to see freedombox plans where
you get the hardware cheaply and can pay for it by offering cloud storage
to the community, for example.  Then roll out the hardware to a large
population, making the network stronger and more resilient.

> Back to the original question though: do these potential social benefits
> outweigh the lack of 100% privacy in Bitcoin?  Is there a `privacy
> threshold' for something to be included in FreedomBox?

Freedombox can have its own currency, there's a few systems such as
opentransactions that provide anonymity.  Ben Laurie has written a paper
saying that you can operate a lottery instead of using huge amounts of
electricity to generate coins.

> Also, somebody has started a petition to ask the ISO to provide a
> three-letter symbol for Bitcoin (BTC is not officially recognised yet):
> http://www.change.org/petitions/six-interbank-clearing-include-a-symbol-for-bitcoin-in-iso-4217

ISO is unlikely to bite here.  But why would you want to?  Dont think in
terms of legacy currencies, just use a URL for currencies and you have the
freedom of the whole web, without gatekeepers.

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