What is KYC/AML?
- The acronym stands for Know Your Customer / Anti Money Laundering.
- In practice it stands for the surveillance measures companies are often compelled to take against their customers by financial regulators.
- Methods differ but often include: Passport Scans, Driver License Uploads, Social Security Numbers, Home Address, Phone Number, Face Scans.
- Bitcoin companies will also store all withdrawal and deposit addresses which can then be used to track bitcoin transactions on the bitcoin block chain.
- This data is then stored and shared. Regulations often require companies to hold this information for a set number of years but in practice users should assume this data will be held indefinitely. Data is often stored insecurely, which results in frequent hacks and leaks.
- KYC/AML data collection puts all honest users at risk of theft, extortion, and persecution while being ineffective at stopping crime. Criminals often use counterfeit, bought, or stolen credentials to get around the requirements. Criminals can buy "verified" accounts for as little as $200. Furthermore, billions of people are excluded from financial services as a result of KYC/AML requirements.
During the early days of bitcoin most services did not require this sensitive user data, but as adoption increased so did the surveillance measures. At this point, most large bitcoin companies are collecting and storing massive lists of bitcoiners, our sensitive personal information, and our transaction history.
Lists of Bitcoiners
KYC/AML policies are a direct attack on bitcoiners. Lists of bitcoiners and our transaction history will inevitably be used against us.
Once you are on a list with your bitcoin transaction history that record will always exist. Generally speaking, tracking bitcoin is based on probability analysis of ownership change. Surveillance firms use various heuristics to determine if you are sending bitcoin to yourself or if ownership is actually changing hands. You can obtain better privacy going forward by using collaborative transactions such as coinjoin to break this probability analysis.
Fortunately, you can buy bitcoin without providing intimate personal information. Tools such as peach, hodlhodl, robosats, azteco and bisq help; mining is also a solid option: anyone can plug a miner into power and internet and earn bitcoin by mining privately.
You can also earn bitcoin by providing goods and/or services that can be purchased with bitcoin. Long term, circular economies will mitigate this threat: most people will not buy bitcoin - they will earn bitcoin - most people will not sell bitcoin - they will spend bitcoin.
There is no such thing as KYC or No KYC bitcoin, there are bitcoiners on lists and those that are not on lists.
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