Both Peter Todd and Andreas Antonopoulos have voiced their distaste for the latest Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP75)’s know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) aspects.
BIP75: ‘A Bad Strategy for Bitcoin’
The update, known as BIP75 and co-authored by developers from Netki and Breadwallet, allows for transactions to be more compliant with many countries’ payment legislation.
However, the added ease of identifying transaction parties goes against Bitcoin’s ethos and could be detrimental, Todd and Antonopoulos argue.
“In any case, I’d strongly argue that we remove BIP75 from the bips repository, and boycott wallets that implement it,” Todd wrote in a response to an explanatory by Netki’s Justin Newton.
He added it is “[a] bad strategy for Bitcoin developers to willingly participate in AML/KYC” and that the “minor tactical wins you’ll get [out] of this aren’t worth it.”
On Twitter, Antonopoulos was more blunt, calling the update a “Bitcoin deterioration proposal”:
Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) 75 is actually a bitcoin deterioration proposal. Facilitating KYC at any layer reduces value of bitcoin
— Andreas (@aantonop) June 29, 2016
The friction comes from BIP75’s ability to add an optional identity for senders of a transaction, which would add a personal aspect to Bitcoin unnecessary beyond legislative compliance.
In demonstrating this superfluous aspect, Todd draws comparisons to the Tor protocol.
“In some (most?) countries, it is illegal to offer telecoms services without wiretap facilities,” he wrote. “Does that mean Tor builds into its software ‘open source’ [,] ‘open standards’ wiretapping functionality? No.”
He noted that attempts to include this notionally compliant update in Tor “is actually a thing that keeps happening,” but which remain on the drawing board.
Meanwhile, some wallet providers such as Samourai are heeding Todd’s call:
Needless to say will not be implementing BIP 75. We are opposed to all forms of kyc/aml within the wallet & think its a dangerous precedent
— Samourai Wallet (@SamouraiWallet) June 29, 2016
Yet Good for Business?
Newton meanwhile had championed the added flexibility the update could bring to Bitcoin for businesses looking to engage in the currency.
“We wanted to build tools that allowed entrepreneurs to breathe easy, while at the same time allow more people and companies to enter the ecosystem,” he wrote to Todd.
“I don’t know if you are opposed to organizations that have AML requirements from using the bitcoin blockchain, but if you aren’t, why wouldn’t you prefer an open source, open standards based solution to exclusionary, proprietary ones?”
Newton’s angle was repeated in reaction to Todd on social media in some quarters.
“This is an opt-in protocol between pairs of wallets that support it. It has a valid use-case. It doesn’t clutter the Blockchain as it doesn’t actually store any additional data there,” Reddit user u/bitawareaustralia wrote.
The full text of the BIP75 improvements is available on GitHub, where its authors summarize its introduction as follows: “In short we wanted to make Bitcoin more human, while at the same time improving transaction privacy.”
What do you think about BIP75’s effect on Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!