Core developers assure the Taproot software update for Bitcoin will improve privacy. Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower who fled to Russia, completely disagrees, accusing developers of missing to prioritize user’s privacy.
Snowden thinks Bitcoin has serious issues with privacy, and that upcoming Taproot could make it worse.
Such statements arose from fellow activists such as Alex Gladstein, the CFO of the Human Rights Foundation, who believes Snowden misrepresents Taproot. According to Gladstein Snowden is overseeing the value of mainstream adoption, so sensitive to it turning too far toward anonymity.
Snowden isn’t Hot on Taproot
Initially deployed in early 2018, Taproot, is supposed to improve privacy, scalability and security. The upgrade will take complex, multi-step transactions and make them appear as though they’re single transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Snowden thinks differently. He believes it actually may make privacy worse by fragmenting address space, making forensic flow tracing and analysis easier.
Core developers have been postponing the privacy matter for too long, and the longer they wait, according to Snowden, the more obstacles in place to prevent that from happening.
Several developers and researchers consider Snowden’s comment incorrect and to be Taproot misunderstood.
Gladstein considers that core devs are in fact constrained by Bitcoin’s users to improve auditability, backwards-compatibility, and stability. Developers have to carefully design solutions which don’t sacrifice the values which make Bitcoin so important in the first place, namely, decentralized digital scarcity and the ability for users to control the system, not corporations or governments.
No Consensus Yet
Some expert voices stand in the middle. BlockTower Capital CEO Ari Paul agrees with Snowden on devs clearly not prioritizing privacy, but that maybe it was smart not to, in sake of the growing mainstream adoption.
Chris Blec, a DeFi researcher, on the other side believes Taproot is a good step toward improving pseudonymity on Bitcoin, however, real anonymity is needed to maintain privacy in today’s world of increasing surveillance.
As we know, Taproot won’t be deployed until November. In the meantime, we’ll see a lot of conversations about this upgrade being a concession as Bitcoin goes mainstream or if it will be faithful to Bitcoin’s ethos and foundational principles.