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Why I Started Accepting Bitcoin for Added Security

November 12, 2018
Sagi Gidali

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Why I Started Accepting Bitcoin for Added Security

In 2018, digital privacy is not just a concern for those participating in illegal or dangerous activities; ALL Internet users are getting tracked in some way – and may suffer consequences.

You could experience fairly innocuous security breaches ranging from advertisers buying your data to more insidious security breaches like having your credit card details stolen by hackers. Moreover, people in certain parts of the world fear getting targeted by government surveillance programs for dissident journalism.

We feel that cryptocurrency could be a partial answer to these security concerns.

While we don’t want to give you a “doomsday” outlook on the world, we feel committed to finding ways to protect your identity in the worst-case scenarios — as well as benign intrusions.

Why do we accept Bitcoin?

SaferVPN-accepts-anonymous-bitcoin-payments

We started accepting Bitcoin in order to offer an extra layer of anonymity – in addition to bank-level encryption and unlimited server switching.

Bitcoin is considered pseudonymous in that Bitcoin transactions are tied to Bitcoin addresses, not users.  In order to determine the user of a Bitcoin address, one would have to determine the association between the user and the Bitcoin address, which might prove difficult if the user used a Bitcoin pseudonym or a different Bitcoin address for every transaction.

Moreover, by using Bitcoin, users can download our Virtual Private Network (VPN) app without paying through one of our third-party processors – which some fear may be used to associate their account with their identity.

Using Bitcoin is particularly crucial in parts of the world where VPN use is banned or overseas transfers and government interference is problematic.

The headlines can be haunting. Every day, we read about more and more ways third-parties and governments can intrude on your web activity and personal finances.

Let’s rewind back five years. Americans faced a wakeup call with the Snowden leaks in 2014 that exposed the U.S. government’s Internet surveillance program. Since then, we have apprised ourselves of the hold government authorities and third parties have over our online activities — including our financial activity.

Then earlier this year, Iran attracted worldwide media attention as global citizens witnessed Iranians endure government surveillance on their social media and financial transactions. They had a social media chat app blackout that lasted for days for fear of mass dissidence.

However, blockchain’s ability to circumnavigate intrusions makes the technology vital to security. When you add altcoins to the new technology, you handle two problems at once: security and financial transactions.

Bitcoin and the transborder economy

While a simple solution to bypass geo-blocking is using a VPN service, we believe that VPNs alone are not enough. Thus we initiated a project, Unlock the Web,in order to throw a wrench into the system that poses barriers to economic and social freedom.

After launching our Unblock the Web campaign as part of our effort to help make the web accessible to activists, dissidents, and journalists fighting for their right to freedom of expression and information online, we wanted to make sure users had as much privacy online as we could offer.

As part of that initiative, we tightened our privacy policy, added more servers and began to accept Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is the added value to this very simple, yet complex equation.

Bitcoin has the distinctive ability to transcend borders, surpass exchange rates, and avoid bank transfer fees — regardless of the state of your government or banking system.

Bitcoin is a gamechanger for countries enduring the consequences of an unserved or underserved international banking system or living in a developing or emerging economy. Likewise, it helps build opportunities for freelancers who have limited banking options.

In short, Bitcoin incentives people to create transactions with the world at large by skirting the barriers that kept them at bay.

This could be why Bitcoin is catching on so fast in parts of Africa, Russia, and Asia.

We’ve seen it rapidly growing in popularity in China – a region where citizens circumvent currency controls through Bitcoin so they can take capital out of the country. Likewise, we see increasingly gaining traction in Russia.

That said, it can be a challenge to get over “the great firewall of China” or Russia’s censorship laws, where government control over the Internet is heightened.

But in many parts of the world, Bitcoin is the answer to furthering sensitive political issues. Citizens can use Bitcoin to make semi-anonymous donations to organizations that may not be approved by your local government or community. This can include anything from reproductive organizations that support abortion to LBGT rights organizations to social justice projects.

Nevertheless, we still advocate the use of VPNs when you use cryptocurrency since external privacy issues are still relevant. For instance, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can track your history and knows when, where, and how you use your Bitcoin exchange. Not everyone wants to expose their traffic logs to the public, especially if they live in a region heavily monitored by their government. It’s like posting your bank statement with your purchase history in the public square.  

Likewise, If you’re on public Wi-Fi, you need to be careful with your Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency activity.

Your ISP or Wi-fi “neighbors” might see the online exchanges that you frequent, the trading tools that you use, and the wallets that stores your currency.

Bottom line: If you live in a sensitive community, you need to find ways to support your values as discreetly as possible.

Cryptocurrency adoption for business

As the world becomes more global, and as technology becomes more complex, I believe that it is going to have an effect on financial transactions and currency. More and more businesses are going to have to accept cryptocurrency for a number of reasons including:

  1. privacy concerns
  2. an inability to transfer funds from one’s state banks
  3. there may be a time when all currency is converted to cryptocurrency.

We may be early adopters in this, but we don’t see this as an experiment. We see cryptocurrency as the next layer to your internet privacy in all things that you do online.

Sagi Gidali

Sagi is a UX/UI leader who believes in keeping things simple, both in life and in tech. Prior to co-founding SaferVPN, Sagi worked for Siemens as a UX consultant, designing web applications that were used by major clients in the automotive industry, including GM and Volvo. He served in the IDF's elite tech unit and graduated from Tel Aviv University with a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics.