Stallman makes a nice spiel about online payments and when prompted about bitcoin, says that it can be the one. His statement that bitcoin is not currently anonymous by default but can be made anonymous is totally correct.
I think I was the one who introduced Stallman to bitcoin. He drafted our license for libbitcoin together with Aaron Williamson of the SFLC. Many thanks to both of them. We were collaborating in December, and Stallman even sent an email asking questions on Christmas day! Really dedicated guy works all year round tirelessly since 1985 and made all this possible.
Nice to see he’s a fan of bitcoin.
Transcript by molecular:
Stallman: “This is why I condemn Steve Jobs as an evil genius who made the world a worse place.”
Host2: “The cost is extremely high, i agree with you, and the future seems to be trending more and more in this direction, everbody these days want to have something that has an app-store. And, I’m just wondering what you thoughts are, is it possible to have an app store world where it’s still financially viable for these people but it still respects freedoms?”
Stallman: “sure, sure. How do you define an app-store? If it’s a site where you can pay for a copy of a program, well, that program could be free software, it’s not gratis, but it could be free.”
Host2: “Not cash, though. Most likely.”
Stallman: “Well, AH! That’s a different issue: we need to setup an anonymous way to pay in the internet.”
Host2: “Did you follow bitcoin at all?”
Stallman: “I know a little about it. I don’t know how to use it. Bitcoin, I believe, can be used anonymously although it’s not inherently anonymous.”
Stallman: “But I don’t know the details, I read them and I forgot. But basically we’ve got to make payment on the internet anonymous and we’ve got to make sure… uh, at least anonymous to the purchaser… an we’ve got to make sure these services cannot be cut off. You see, one of the ways that the internet attacks our freedom is that to do the things we normally do in the physical world, to do comparable things in the internet requires the cooperation of companies, and they refuse to cooperate. We recently saw paypal impose censorship on publishers.”
Host1: “I generally agree with that, but honestly, from a purely practical standpoint, I don’t see how it’s all that different from the way the US government works currently where paper money is backed by privately held corporations…”
Stallman: “Sorry, you don’t understand! You don’t need a company to cooperate for you to accept some dollar bills. If you’re selling books in a store, people can come in and pay you money and you don’t need some company to agree to help you take that money.”
Host1: “Right, accepting the dollar bills is basically an old barter system…” [hard to make out because stallman is interupting]
Stallman: “…you would need a company to do that, such as paypal. There are only a few that you could use. And this is why you have less rights on the internet than you have in the physical world”
Host1: “Currently we do have… let’s say bitcoin is kindof a good example. Just do give you some kind of idea here: I could send money to you directly, so basically, here’s an IP address I’ll be at for the next 12 seconds, just go ahead and bitcoin me however many bitcoins. And in that way it’s very similar to handing you some quarters or some dollar bills. When it becomes an issue is it’s the same for both bitcoins, sending money through paypal, getting some physical dollar bills in the real world, you still have to be able to exchange that for something, so I still have to be able to go and exchange that. So it requires the cooperation of companies or government institutions. Even when we’re talking about dollar bills and coins. I don’t really see the differnce.”
Stallman: “I’m not talking about that, that’s a different issue. So I’m talking about the difference between using cash and what you can do on the internet.”
Host1: “Right, I guess that’s where I just don’t see the difference there. I don’t see where they’re all that differnt.”
Stallman: “I can go to a book store and buy books and pay cash and the book store doesn’t know who I am and can’t find out who I am. They have no record of this. I can’t buy over the internet that way.”
Amir Taaki (genjix) can be reached via email@example.com