Chelsea Manning became interested in Bitcoin when the project was still in its infancy, but not because of the disruptive ambitions of users or alleged payment networks.
The American activist and whistleblower, who sent classified information to Wikileaks in 2010 regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said Bitcoin appealed to his passion for cryptography and the math behind securing information. She had read about it in chain emails, keeping a curious eye on its growth.
“It’s a cute, fancy little tool that’s a proof of concept,” Manning said, she thought of Bitcoin early on, as opposed to “a get-rich-quick scheme.”
She viewed Bitcoin as an experiment in building crypto-based networks as a decentralized way to store information, less as a way to generate wealth through the accumulation of code. She remains suspicious today.
“I have a great interest in technology [of blockchain]but the economics, I’m a bit more skeptical,” Manning Told Decrypt. “I just don’t see how something [that] can go very quickly from having some value to having no value as a sustainable system.
The technology, Manning continued, could be used to revolutionize the electronic sharing of information, particularly in terms of privacy, message content protection and source verification. When bitcoin economics started dominating the conversation, she became less interested.
“I walked away from it because I realized that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the technical aspects of this, or the security and privacy implications of this technology, but they consider this a trademark which is cool to be part of. ,” she says.
Manning now works on the security side of a privacy infrastructure project called Nym that uses blockchain technology and has its own native currency, which powers a network that encrypts data.
Another way she sees the utility of ledger technology is in making private messaging apps more secure by eliminating a single point of failure for systems. By using peer-to-peer networks, it wouldn’t be possible for email systems to stop working if servers went down in a specific location, unlike centralized email systems, such as Signal.
Ensuring people’s ability to be activists or journalists is one of the main benefits of systems built using blockchain technology, Manning said. Projects like Nym, which uses digital tokens to power its service and mix information indistinguishably, are not built around profitability but rather functionality.
Although Manning sees a lot of overlap between cryptocurrency and the privacy community, privacy experts have expressed concerns about cryptocurrencies due to potential economic incentives.
“People are jumping on board, they’re super excited and they’re cashing in as soon as it starts to fall apart, and I think that kind of stuff drives away a lot of more privacy-conscious and more security-conscious people,” he said. Manning said. .
Although involved in Nym from a security perspective, she maintains that she has no financial interest in the project. “I want this to continue,” she added, “so I can maintain some objectivity as a security expert.”
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