Bitcoin is often described as a means of payment that ensures privacy. At first glance this may seem real, after all you don’t need to provide any data to create a wallet, and you can generate a lot of addresses.
There have been voices from politicians that Bitcoin will be used in illegal activities such as money laundering or the purchase of illegal items. But before I get to the point, let’s face it, isn’t cash used in illegal activities on a much larger scale and due to the lack of Blockchain technology even more anonymous? Attempts to demonise Bitcoin for its freedom when most US bank notes have trace amounts of cocaine do not seem appropriate.
But let’s get down to business as it is with this privacy, and it’s not as colorful as it seems. As you know, every bitcoin transaction is publicly announced and available forever in Blockchain. For this, stock exchanges often require proof of identity to set up an account and all privacy falls. There are still a few trivial ways to link an address with a person
adding it on some forum counting on “tips” or blog or anywhere on the Internet
When you buy things online, the seller will link your bitcoin address to your shipping address.
a software server administrator that does not download the entire Blockchain will also bind the address to the IP
your ISP will know IP if you don’t use VPN or Tor network
if you keep money on your wallet online, the operator has not only IP but also private keys, although if you hide IP it may be a way to mix your own Bitcoins with those of other users of the site.
So one mistake that reveals the identity of the address owner can make his entire transaction history work. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use a separate address for each transaction. Diversification of resources will also help to hide how many Bitcoins we have, it will be much harder to detect in someone with multiple addresses than in someone who has 1 address with all the savings. Remember, however, that if you make a transfer of more than the funds available on 1 address using a client, another one of our addresses will appear in the transaction.
And those who are even more interested in not being tied to their funds can be recommended services dealing with mixing Bitcoins. Such a service for an additional fee, often also random – which I will explain later – collects users’ funds to the pool, sends them between addresses and then returns them – the later the better for anonymity – to the chosen address, which of course should differ from the address from which the Bitcoins came out. The problem with mixing is that you have to trust a foreign service that it will not steal the coins entrusted to it. During the Blockchain research you can additionally take into account the time of making transfers or the characteristic end of transfers – hence the random fee for mixing Bitcoins.
If someone would like to have private funds, they can either dig them out themselves or buy cash for – attention, attention – attention. On the popular LocalBitcoins website you should find someone who will sell Bitcoins for cash, do not share any of their data, use a one-time e-mail address and use all the tricks of secret agents 😉 Besides, Bitcoins in the form of payment for some work online or bought at an ATM with Bitcoins will also be somehow anonymous.
To sum up, Bitcoin is not private in itself, but with the right determination and preparation it may be.