Governments across the world are using technology and banks to keep an eye on their citizens. Decentralized currencies like Bitcoin may be the only way out for people who want to maintain their privacy.
Europe and MiFid
The European Union’s Market in Financial Instruments Directives (MiFiD) are set to be implemented from January 2018. Customers who transact in securities will now have to provide their passport numbers to every platform they register on.
Exchanges are transitioning to MiFiD-ready platforms and have started collection of data. If you do not provide your passport number and other personal data, exchanges may block your transactions. As far as Know-Your-Customer norms are concerned, no data is considered private.
US tracks citizens worldwide
The US, through the enactment of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), tracks the accounts of its citizens worldwide. US citizens, whether resident or not, have information such as their social security numbers and total assets collected by banks and submitted to the IRS. The US government twists the arms of foreign banks to ensure compliance. This is done by threatening non-compliant banks with a withholding penalty on their US transactions.
The IRS is even trying to use tools like Chainalysis to track down Bitcoin transactions. There is no escaping the long arm of Uncle Sam, except by renouncing your citizenship, which some wealthy Americans have done.
India and Aadhar
The Government of India seems to be pushing forward with its aim to make Aadhar ubiquitous. The Aadhar card, which involves the collection of biometrics like fingerprints and iris scans, has been made compulsory for everything from receiving subsidies to filing income tax returns. In its new push, the government has also ordered the linking of bank accounts and mobile numbers to your unique Aadhar number.
Its motto is one billion, one billion, one billion – a billion bank accounts linked to a billion mobile numbers linked to a billion Aadhar numbers. Privacy? Forget about it, especially when it comes to money. Demonetization is not the only assault by the Indian government on people’s’ rights.
Nothing to hide?
The attitude of governments when questioned about the need for citizens’ privacy is that only criminals need to hide things from the government. Various organizations have taken the issue of privacy to courts and are fighting a battle to safeguard the rights of citizens, but governments are nonetheless chipping away at citizens’ privacy. Thankfully, Bitcoin is founded on the core premise that transactions cannot be censored in any way. If Alice wants to send some of her Bitcoins to Bob, she will be able to do that irrespective of what the government thinks and wants her to do.