Short Posts Collection

Short posts about agorism, Bitcoin, Monero, financial inclusion, peer-to-peer marketplaces, technology, privacy and more.

Contents

1) Thinking of adopting Bitcoin? Why it’s important to be KYC-free

2) How can Bitcoin protect you against the dangers of a cashless economy?

3) Peer-to-peer marketplaces are the future of commerce

4) Why Twitter’s KYC’ed Bitcoin tips are dangerous and what KYC-free alternatives you can use

5) Watts for financial freedom — Why Proof of Work is a necessary use of energy.

6) How and why to migrate from Twitter to Mastodon/Pleroma

7) How to generate keys, encrypt and sign messages with PGP

8) Roadblocks to obtaining government-issued ID

9) How to create an anonymous Telegram account without a phone

10) The dangers of “decentralized” ID systems

11) Flag Theory vs. Micronations vs. Agorism

Thinking of adopting Bitcoin? Why it’s important to be KYC-free

Are you interested in accepting Bitcoin as a payment method in your business or community? Good choice! Bitcoin offers many advantages such as global accessibility, low fees, quick confirmation times, no risk of chargebacks and much lower risk of theft than credit cards.

As you integrate Bitcoin into your business, it’s important that any accessible adoption of Bitcoin must be KYC-free and not require any government ID.

KYC excludes millions of people who don’t have government ID or who can’t show ID for safety reasons. If the state refuses to print ID for you, there are generally no appeals, help from NGOs or alternative ways to get ID.

People without ID are already unfairly excluded from banking, credit cards, Western Union, Paypal, Apple Pay and more, which totally excludes them from global and online payments.

Decreasing cash acceptance is also excluding people from local payments, including for necessary things like food, rent, public transit and healthcare.

This is why KYC-free cryptocurrency acceptance is vital for economic inclusion and financial freedom. Accepting Bitcoin in your business helps millions of people to access your products or services, who are otherwise shut out of traditional payment methods.

We need more cryptocurrency acceptance. Imagine being able to pay for groceries, rent, public transit, subscriptions, healthcare and more with cryptocurrencies. Imagine full financial inclusion for everyone, without KYC and without exclusionary restrictions. Take the opportunity to integrate KYC-free cryptocurrency payments into your business, so that we can build free markets for all.

— — —

How can Bitcoin protect you against the dangers of a cashless economy?

Many brick-and-mortar stores are refusing to accept cash due to coronavirus restrictions, while more transactions are being done online, such as online shopping, bill payments and international remittances.

However, cashless payment methods like bank accounts, credit cards, Western Union, Paypal, Apple Pay, etc. are not available to everyone. These payment methods all require KYC, which excludes millions of people who don’t have government ID or can’t show ID for safety reasons. No bank will open a bank account for someone who doesn’t have a passport, driver’s license or national ID card, and if the state refuses to print a passport for you, you are totally shut out of the cashless economy.

On the other hand, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies only need an internet connection. The blockchain doesn’t care about the state’s permission — it only needs a broadcasted transaction signed by your private key.

Cryptocurrencies offer financial freedom for everyone and come with additional benefits like uncensorable global payments, instant to 10 minute confirmation times, less than 1 cent in fees, no inflation, no chargebacks, very low risk of theft compared to credit cards. In addition, Monero offers great privacy and peace of mind that strangers can’t track your balance, earnings or transaction history.

The trend toward cashless payments is exclusionary and disturbing (https://whycryptocurrencies.com/cashless_dystopia.html), but cryptocurrencies can solve this by providing a cashless payment method that is available to absolutely everyone and immune to exploitation by the state and corporations.

Imagine being able to pay for groceries, rent, public transit, subscriptions, healthcare and more with cryptocurrencies. Peer-to-peer markets and proxy merchants can already help you to do this, but mass adoption will make it even easier.

The internet and cryptocurrencies provide the technology to build free markets for everyone, outside of the corporate greed and statist violence that is embedded into the mainstream economy — we just need to take this opportunity.

— — —

Peer-to-peer marketplaces are the future of commerce

Peer-to-peer markets are already liberating people from state and corporate control. KYC-free voluntary peer-to-peer transactions in our local, online and global communities bypass the dangers of corporate greed, disproportionate statist regulations and exclusionary government ID systems.

Many peer-to-peer markets are already thriving, both traditional local markets with cash-in-hand transactions such as farmers markets and informal apartment rentals along with new opportunities that arise with the help of the internet and cryptocurrencies such as remote work for Bitcoin or 3D printing.

Some examples:

  • Buy/sell websites like Craigslist
  • Peer-to-peer apartment rentals and intentional communities
  • Taxis and ridesharing
  • Barter and free stores
  • Fair trade and direct trade
  • Freelance and remote work
  • Informal jobs and gigs for cash
  • Biohacking
  • Health clinic collectives
  • Open-source software
  • Skill sharing and online classes
  • Hackerspaces and infoshops
  • Proxy merchants
  • Anonymous sim cards
  • Communal wifi networks
  • Encryption software
  • 3D printing
  • DIY projects
  • Homesteading and small-scale farming
  • Solar panels and other renewable energy

All these and more help you and your community to gain independence from the state and big corporations. The internet and cryptocurrencies make it even easier to meet like-minded people and send and receive money outside of the state’s knowledge or control. Peer-to-peer markets are also a foundation of voluntaryism, vonu, agorism, crypto-anarchy, cypherpunk and second realms.

Peer-to-peer markets and local and global communities are the future — by the people for the people. Start P2P trading today and build free markets for everyone.

— — —

Why Twitter’s KYC’ed Bitcoin tips are dangerous and what KYC-free alternatives you can use

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/dangers-of-kyc-tips For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

“BREAKING: Twitter is now beta testing a #Bitcoin lightning tipping service” twitter.com/BitcoinMagazine/status/1433032351777492992

Looks like Twitter plans to enable Bitcoin Lightning tips, but only via Strike’s KYC wallet.

Strike Wallet unfairly excludes people without government ID, who are already shut out of banking, Paypal and Western Union, while the state is phasing out cash. These people need financial inclusion the most, and by refusing to serve people without ID, Strike continues to push vulnerable people out of the economy.

Strike also endangers people who would be at risk in real life if their Twitter pseudonym is connected to government ID, such as journalists, activists, artists and people who simply want privacy (for example, they don’t want their employer to find their tweets).

Additionally, Strike is creating a KYC’ed surveillance database of Twitter users with their full names and photos (who decided to exchange their privacy and possibly freedom of speech for a few cents of co-opted KYC’ed Lightning tips).

When Facebook started to arbitrarily ban accounts and demand government ID to login or delete them, people found this wrong and invasive. But these same people are happy to send Twitter their ID (with their full name, photo, birth date and home address) for a chance to maybe get a few cents in tips.

Example: If a libertarian Twitter user wants to earn some donations for their tweets, built-in Lightning tips via Strike may seem easy and convenient. However, if Twitter later decides to cancel them (or worse, if the state sends a warrant or the KYC database is hacked, etc.), they could be in real danger. Due to Strike’s KYC, the libertarian blogger isn’t just an anonymous pseudonym over VPN anymore, but rather Strike (=Twitter) has their full name, photo, home address and SSN. This could endanger them to doxxing and real life violence from people who disagree with their tweets or attacks from the state. All for a few cents in tips…

Users who want to enjoy freedom of speech without compromising their safety should avoid Strike, use a pseudonym over VPN/Tor, and use a KYC-free donation platform like Cointr.ee.

Bitcoin is KYC-free by default. Satoshi intended Bitcoin to be permissionless pseudonymous peer-to-peer money, which exists outside of banks, corporations and the state. The Bitcoin network doesn’t require government ID or state permission — a pseudonymous randomly generated private key is enough to send and receive money.

KYC is just an artificial unnecessary and new (since 2018) Layer 2 that exists to financially exclude people without ID and surveil and endanger people who do have ID.

Bitcoin worked fine without KYC from 2008–2018 and KYC-free platforms continue to work well today.

Don’t use Strike. If you want Bitcoin tips on Twitter, just add your Bitcoin address in your bio, make a Cointr.ee page, use Tippin.me, get a paynym at Paynym.is, or many other options — KYC-free, privacy-friendly and accessible for everyone.

— — —

Watts for financial freedom — Why Proof of Work is a necessary use of energy.

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/watts-for-financial-freedom For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

Recently there are several environmental concerns about Proof of Work mining which secures the Bitcoin and Monero networks. However, over half of cryptocurrency’s energy usage comes from renewable sources, which is increasing every year. A further portion uses energy that would otherwise be wasted (stranded energy). The energy used by cryptocurrency is also much lower than the energy used by the inefficient legacy networks of the banking system, Visa and MasterCard — which many people can’t even participate in due to KYC discrimination. Popular hobbies such as video games, scrolling social media and streaming Netflix also use large amounts of energy due to the required server farms and infrastructure, while cryptocurrency provides a vitally inclusive financial system that helps people today.

The Bitcoin and Monero networks offer advantages that the legacy financial network cannot provide. While the state’s fiat system is based on coercion, theft and war, cryptocurrencies are opt-in networks, based on open source code and secured by volunteers who run node and miner software on computers worldwide. In addition, many people are unfairly excluded from traditional banking due to KYC — such as the millions of people without access to government ID or victims of abuse and activists who need pseudonymity for safety reasons. In comparison, cryptocurrencies use mathematics, not state-assigned identities, to prove ownership of funds. You only need a pseudonymous cryptographic private key to access your money, which you can generate with easy-to-use wallet software on a computer or smartphone. As a result, cryptocurrencies provide a safe, private and inclusive payment method and store of value that everyone can use, no government ID or corporate permission required.

Monero offers further advantages compared to the legacy financial system. Monero can be described as “anonymous cash for the internet”, which allows you to securely and privately send and receive money worldwide via easy-to-use wallets for desktop and mobile. Strong cryptographic privacy means that amounts, addresses, balances and transaction history aren’t displayed publicly on the blockchain, protecting you against surveillance and possible censorship or targeting. Transactions cost less than 1 cent in fees and are confirmed within 2 minutes. In addition, Monero can only be CPU mined on regular computers (no large ASIC server farms), which means that everyone with a computer can contribute and earn money by securing the network. Monero uses a comparatively small amount of energy to efficiently provide an inclusive global financial network that helps people today.

In conclusion, cryptocurrency’s use of energy is vital for financial freedom, in a world where cash is being phased out and financial surveillance and censorship is increasing. Many people can’t access traditional banking, which unfairly shuts people out of online shopping, cashless payments, remote work, in-app payments, international remittances and many other economic transactions. Every Watt spent on cryptocurrency infrastructure is a vital contribution to financial inclusion for all.

— — —

How and why to migrate from Twitter to Mastodon/Pleroma

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/migrate-from-twitter-to-mastodon For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

Twitter is increasingly hostile toward Tor and recently it is difficult to even login via Tor. 10+ Google captchas just to receive the error “Oops, something went wrong. Please try again later.” and attempt the 5 minute process again with a fresh exit node. You can waste 10+ minutes in this loop and still have no success to login.

In comparison, TryLiberty (https://tryliberty.org) is a Pleroma instance that doesn’t block Tor, is compatible with all Mastodon and Pleroma instances (which use ActivityPub), and even offers its own onion: http://5ah3j4yj23zv2kmyrkjazbzoxhav3wcrllpdbnj4yvph5wyr6yrez4qd.onion

Ideally, libertarians, devs, Bitcoiners, Monero users and more should move to any suitable Pleroma or Mastodon instance (e.g. https://tryliberty.org, https://liberdon.com) and use Nitter (e.g. https://nitter.net) as a read-only alternative to Twitter when necessary. Nitter also offers a RSS feed option for every Twitter profile, so you can add your followers to your preferred RSS reader.

Pleroma and Mastodon are better than Twitter in many ways: Tor-friendly, uncensored, open source, many instances and you can even host your own.

But how to bring more libertarians, Bitcoiners and Monero users over from Twitter?

Some ideas:
- A KYC-free Bitcoin/Monero tip bot (similar to Noise.cash)
- Integration of read-only Nitter into the ActivityPub feed
- Allow people to comment on and retweet Twitter posts from Mastodon/Pleroma
- Bots that automatically mirror your Tweets to your Mastodon/Pleroma profile

Right now, some of these are already available:
- You can add your Bitcoin/Monero address to your profile, but there is no integrated tip button yet.
- Birdsite provides a bridge from Twitter to Mastodon (similar to Nitter, but integrated into Mastodon’s feed): https://github.com/NicolasConstant/BirdsiteLive (https://beta.birdsite.live)
- You can automatically mirror your Mastodon posts to Twitter: https://github.com/bitkeks/mastodon-to-twitter
- And there are many solutions to mirror your Tweets to Mastodon: https://pypi.org/project/pleroma-bot/, https://gitlab.com/yogthos/mastodon-bot, https://gitlab.com/ayush-sharma/tweet-toot, https://github.com/FGRibreau/import-tweets-to-mastodon

Ideally, people would start to post directly to Mastodon and like, comment, follow, retweet and discuss there. However, Twitter -> Mastodon mirrors can provide activity, content and a bridge, until the activity on Mastodon increases.

If you don’t like the standard Mastodon UI, you can try Pleroma, which is more lightweight and has an easy-to-understand design (no confusing columns or bloat). Otherwise you can check this list: https://wedistribute.org/2019/04/your-guide-to-alternative-frontends-for-mastodon-and-pleroma/ for alternative frontends, such as Brutaldon (https://brutaldon.org/) or Pinafore (https://pinafore.social/).

There are many links, tools and bots for Mastodon and Pleroma here: https://project-awesome.org/tleb/awesome-mastodon

Try to decrease your usage of Twitter. It’s hostile toward Tor, is censored, often bans people, and now requires doxxing (=KYC) for its integrated Bitcoin tips. Mastodon and Pleroma instances provide an open-source, self-sovereign, decentralized and uncensored alternative for your content, followers and community. Even if you don’t want to move 100% to Mastodon right now, at least setup a profile and consider to install one of many easy-to-use scripts to mirror your tweets.

— — —

How to generate keys, encrypt and sign messages with PGP

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/pgp-guide For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

If you want to send a secure and private message, use PGP encryption. You can use PGP anywhere (email, social media, messengers, apps and more) — just paste the ASCII-armored encrypted message into the message box and click send. You can also encrypt files with PGP, e.g. for backups or email attachments.

Using the command-line may seem difficult, but the PGP commands are simple. You can use GPG’s CLI software in Windows (CMD), Mac (Terminal), Linux (Terminal) and Android (Termux). Try out the commands listed in this article to see how easy it is.

In addition, consider to use Tor for better privacy. Tor’s secure 3-hop design (consisting of an entry node, relay node and exit node) prevents your ISP from seeing what you access and prevent websites (or other users in P2P software) from finding your location. You can use Tor Browser for websites, Torsocks for software, Orbot on Android or a specialized OS like a Tails USB or Whonix VM. Tor is open-source and you can download it for free here: https://www.torproject.org/

Install GPG for Ubuntu/Debian/Whonix/Mint/PopOS:
For Windows, visit
https://www.gnupg.org/download/

sudo apt install gpg

Generate your key pair:

gpg --generate-key

List keys:

gpg --list-keys

Export your public key (You can share this):

gpg --export --armor my@email.com > my_key.asc

Display your public key (Copy and paste or send as an attachment):

cat my_key.asc

Backup your private key (Don’t share this):

gpg --export-secret-key --armor my@email.com > private_key.asc

Import someone’s public key:

gpg --import recipient_key.asc

Encrypt a message to someone (Write your message in a text file first, e.g. message.txt):

gpg --encrypt --armor --recipient recipient@email.com message.txt

Encrypt a message with a password instead of PGP key (You will be asked to enter the password in the next step):

gpg --symmetric --armor message.txt

Display the encrypted message (Copy and paste or send as an attachment):

cat message.txt.asc

Decrypt a message (E.g. you have saved it under message.txt.asc):

gpg --decrypt message.txt.asc

Sign a message:

gpg --clear-sign --armor message.txt

Display the signed message (Copy and paste or send as an attachment):

cat message.txt.asc

Verify a signature (Import the public key first):

gpg --verify message.txt.asc

You can share your PGP public key on your website, social media or upload it to a PGP key server such as https://pgp.mit.edu/ or https://keyserver.ubuntu.com.

— — —

Roadblocks to obtaining government-issued ID

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/roadblocks-to-obtaining-government-id For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

The state’s monopoly on identity and its KYC regulations exclude millions of people from daily life necessities, such as finances, jobs, apartment rentals, healthcare, mail, sim cards, contracts and more. If the state refuses to print ID for you, there is no way to appeal or get an ID via an alternative method. It is truly a monopolized single point-of-failure that leaves people (who e.g. weren’t registered at birth) no opportunity to enter the system and regularize their situation as an adult, regardless of their skills or efforts.

Standard application

If you weren’t registered at birth or the country of birth is dangerous to you, it’s impossible to get a passport or national ID card via a standard application. If you don’t already exist in the database, the state is very unlikely to add you as an adult.

Skilled work visa

Even a skilled work visa requires an existing passport, regardless of your specialized skills, an invitation from a company or a highly-paid job offer.

Driver’s license

Sadly the state doesn’t only require a passed driving test, but also an existing national ID card or passport in order to get a driver’s license.

Stateless passports, non-citizen passports

Stateless passports technically exist, even with an “identity not verified” stamp for people who don’t have a birth certificate or old passport. However, the state mostly refuses to print stateless passports (legally recognized stateless status) and non-citizen passports (nationality unknown) and even prefers to imprison people indefinitely than to print an ID which would allow them to get a work or marriage visa.

IDs for undocumented people

Some US states offer ID cards for undocumented people, such as the Californian AB 60 driver’s license and a similar program in New York. However, these ID cards require an existing foreign passport, national ID card or birth certificate. While this could help people who have ID but no visa, sadly it can’t help people who don’t have existing state-issued identity documents.

Asylum

Asylum is generally only available in cases of war. People who escape from a war-torn country fortunately may be able to get asylum by only providing fingerprints. For anyone else who is escaping from a dangerous situation (abuse, political persecution, cultural persecution e.g. against women, LGBT people, religion or ethnicity), the state often refuses to grant asylum applications and even forcibly returns the applicant against their will to the country that endangers their life.

Red Cross, United Nations

United Nations used to issue laissez-passer passports and Red Cross used to issue emergency travel documents, but sadly it looks like these are not available anymore. Generally these were only valid for one trip, and not intended for daily life use, such as visas, jobs, apartment rentals or healthcare.

Flag Theory, second passports, jurisdictional arbitrage

Sadly all Flag Theory strategies, such as St Kitts and Nevis passports, Estonian digital residency or Panamanian permanent residency, require an existing passport or birth certificate. There is no way to receive an initial proof of identity via investment or skilled work, so these strategies can’t help people who have no identity documents at all.

Shell companies

Many people recommend to make contracts under a business name rather than a personal name. However, even “anonymous off-shore companies” with nominee directors require government ID to open. Maybe this method could provide privacy for people with ID, but sadly it isn’t possible for people without ID.

Secondary proof of ID, paper trail

In Common Law countries like the US and UK, it may be possible to access services via “secondary proof of ID” or “ID points”, such as letters, medical records, work ID cards, library cards, baptism certificates or other non-government documents, or ask someone who has ID to vouch for you (identity witness). However, in most other countries, only passports or national ID cards are accepted, which strictly require you to be entered in the state’s database at birth (government-issued birth certificate). This means that it isn’t possible to “build an identity” via a daily-life paper trail such as contracts, letters and school/work records.

Non-government ID cards

While Flag Theory offers government-issued ID cards in return for investments (but excludes people without an existing proof of identity), various organizations and companies print non-government ID cards for a fee, no previous ID required. Some examples are Digitalcourage, Bitnation, Liberland and World Passports. However, these non-government IDs are sadly not accepted for KYC purposes (visas, banking, jobs) or even for layman situations like picking up mail, renting an apartment or joining a gym. While you can buy one without an existing government ID, it sadly isn’t accepted in daily life situations.

Paper tripping

Paper tripping was an old strategy that used dead people’s documents or copied living people’s documents, e.g. by buying a birth certificate from one state and using it in another state, as databases weren’t shared. Sadly this doesn’t work anymore, at least in the EU, because data is shared between databases, departments and countries (e.g. from a cloned birth certificate, the state can easily find the real person’s photo, address, job and IDs, or if it’s a foreign birth certificate, they can ask the embassy, who will reply if it’s faked or cloned). If you try to apply for a national ID card using a cloned birth certificate, the state will see the real person’s existing ID card and their photo in the database, and will easily determine that you aren’t the same person.

Bribed ID

Bribed ID may work if you find a connection to a corrupt bureaucrat, although it may look suspicious to see that a birth e.g. from the 90s was only entered today. Plus there is a risk if the corrupt bureaucrat would be exposed and the fake ID records would be deleted.

Fake ID

In the US, it’s fairly easy for college students to buy a fake driver’s license for drinking. However in Europe, fake ID sellers are difficult to find. If you can find a fake ID seller, maybe it could work to pickup mail, visit a doctor or rent an apartment and open up more opportunities this way, but it is unlikely that the state would accept this ID to issue a visa or SSN and it may not work for situations that use scanners (e.g. opening a bank account).

Solutions

As you can see, it’s difficult to access government ID if you weren’t registered at birth, the country of birth is dangerous to you, or many other reasons. The state provides no way to regularize your situation as an adult, e.g. via a daily-life paper trail (school/work records, letters, contracts, medical records), qualifying for a skilled work visa or even providing fingerprints.

There is no way to convince the state to solve problems that it has intentionally created. Even human rights organizations like United Nations, Red Cross, Caritas and Privacy International have tried to persuade the state to print IDs for millions of stateless people, refugees and undocumented people. 1 billion people worldwide have no access to government-issued ID, but instead of printing ID for these people, the state prefers to ignore, blame, exclude or even imprison them.

Instead, the practical solution is to provide more services that don’t require ID, such as under-the-table jobs, informal apartment rentals, cash-in-hand healthcare, anonymous sim cards, and businesses who accept payments in cash or Bitcoin. Proxy merchants are also necessary: people who have ID make contracts or sign up for services on behalf of people who don’t have ID and are paid a fee for their help. This could help people without ID to access jobs, banking, apartment rentals, online shopping or even healthcare.

More information about KYC-free services can be found here:
https://anarkiocrypto.medium.com/the-rarely-discussed-dangers-of-kyc-in-crypto-and-daily-life-and-what-you-can-do-about-it-20f2b5894439
https://bitcoinmagazine.com/business/kyc-free-bitcoin-circular-economies

— — —

How to create an anonymous Telegram and Signal account without a phone

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/anonymous-telegram-account For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

This guide (Whonix + Anbox) also works for other apps, such as Signal, Samourai Wallet, Schildi Chat and more.

Smartphones are bad for privacy. They have many privacy-invading sensors such as front and back cameras, microphone, cell tower location, GPS location, fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth and NFC and an unchangeable device ID (IMEI). In addition, it’s difficult to use apps without risking IP leaks — for example, Orbot doesn’t have a kill switch. Likewise, in many countries it’s difficult to buy a prepaid sim card without government ID (https://prepaid-data-sim-card.fandom.com/wiki/Registration_Policies_Per_Country), which means that people need to rely on gray markets or second hand sim cards in order to get an anonymous phone number. Even with a KYC-free sim card, your physical location is continuously sent to cell towers and your movements are saved in the operator’s database, which is accessible to the state and corporations.

In comparison, desktop computers and laptops are much better for privacy. No GPS or cell tower connections, no sim card and if there is a built-in camera or microphone, you can cover it, disable it in the kernel or physically remove it. With Tails and Whonix, it’s easy to ensure that all traffic is routed via Tor without leaks. In addition, you can buy KYC-free SMS verification services for Bitcoin. Unlike physical sim cards and esims, SMS verification websites don’t know your physical location and you don’t need a phone to use them.

This guide describes how to download Anbox (Android emulator) in Whonix, use a SMS verification service to register a Telegram account, and link your new Telegram account to Telegram Web or Telegram Desktop. (An Android emulator is necessary, because Telegram requires you to signup via the app and doesn’t allow signup via Telegram Web or Desktop.)

1) Install Whonix. Whonix is used because it automatically routes all software through Tor, including the Android emulator. Select your operating system on the Whonix homepage for installation steps: https://www.whonix.org/

2) Install Anbox emulator inside Whonix Workstation. Open Whonix Workstation and follow these steps to install Anbox: https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Anbox
(An alternative is to install Android-x86 VM and specifically configure it to connect to Whonix Gateway: https://android-x86.org/. However this guide focuses on Anbox.)

3) Install Telegram. Open Whonix Workstation, then click on Terminal. Enter these commands:

wget https://telegram.org/dl/android/apk

anbox launch --package=org.anbox.appmgr --component=org.anbox.appmgr.AppViewActivity

adb install Telegram.apk

4) Open Anbox via “Start menu -> Accessories -> Anbox” and click on the Telegram icon.

5) Use a SMS verification website such as https://smspva.com, https://textverified.com, https://sms4sats.com or https://juicysats.com and choose “Telegram”. These websites are all KYC-free and accept either on-chain Bitcoin or Lightning Bitcoin. One SMS verification costs around 50 cents-$2. If the provided number doesn’t work, you can get a new number for free or get a refund. Alternatively you can try free SMS websites such as https://sms24.me or https://onlinesim.ru but these numbers are often already used. If the website requires an email address, you can create an anonymous email address via https://onionmail.org, https://msgsafe.io or https://protonmail.com.

6) Register your Telegram account in Anbox with the provided phone number from the SMS verification website. After signing up, add a password (Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Two-step verification -> Cloud password) and recovery email address (e.g. an anonymous OnionMail.org address). This is important, because SMS verification websites sometimes reuse numbers. If you set a password, no one will be able to take your number or login to your account. For privacy, you can also set a username (Settings -> Edit profile -> Username) and hide your phone number (Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Phone number).

7) Connect your new Telegram account to Telegram Web or Telegram Desktop (optional). Download Telegram Desktop in Whonix Workstation or visit https://web.telegram.org/ in Tor Browser. Then enter your number and you will receive a login code to your Telegram App in Anbox. Important: Don’t delete the Telegram App or uninstall Anbox, because you still need it for login codes, otherwise you will lose your account.

Now you can send messages via Telegram and join Telegram channels. Remember that regular messages, groups and channels are not encrypted. Only “Secret Chats” between 2 people are encrypted.

Recommended channels:

Bitcoin
https://t.me/bitcoinp2pmarketplace
https://t.me/microlancer_io
https://t.me/sovereignbitcoiner
https://t.me/sovrnbitcoiner
https://t.me/gnbteam

Monero
https://t.me/moneromarket
https://t.me/monerojobs
https://t.me/localmonero

Agorism
https://t.me/agoristmarket
https://t.me/shopagorist

If you want an encrypted messenger for 1-on-1 and group chats that doesn’t require a smartphone or phone number, works in Tor Browser, and has web, desktop and mobile apps, try Matrix (https://matrix.org, https://app.element.io).

New guide — How to create a Signal account without a phone:

While it’s possible to install Signal in Anbox, you can’t link it to Signal Desktop, as there is no way to spoof the in-app camera in order to “scan” the QR code. In addition, it isn’t possible to register a new number via Signal Desktop and Signal doesn’t offer a web version. However, it’s possible to register via Signal-CLI and link it to Signal Desktop — all inside Whonix Workstation. The setup is slightly more complicated, but you only need to install it once, then you can enjoy access to Signal inside Whonix, without the risks of a smartphone nor the lag of Anbox.

1) Install Signal-CLI: https://github.com/AsamK/signal-cli/

2) Get an anonymous virtual number from SMSPVA, JuicySMS or TextVerified for Bitcoin or Monero

3) Visit https://signalcaptchas.org/registration/generate.html in Tor Browser and complete the captcha. Click on “Inspect Element -> Console” and copy the long string that begins with “signalcaptcha://”

4) Remove the prefix “signalcaptcha://” from the long string. Now you have your captcha code and can signup.

5) Enter this command to signup (replace +1555444333 with your phone number):

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 register --captcha "paste captcha here"

6) Get your verification code and enter this command (replace 123456 with your code):

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 verify 123456

7) Add your username and avatar (required, if you want to join group chats):

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 updateProfile --name MyUsername --avatar ./my_avatar.jpg

8) Initialize your account by sending a test message to yourself and receiving it:

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 send -m test +1555444333

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 receive

9) Add a PIN, so that no one can re-register your number or login to your account (in case the SMS verification website reuses numbers). Replace 1234 with your PIN:

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 setPin 1234

10) Install Signal Desktop: https://github.com/signalapp/Signal-Desktop

11) Launch Signal Desktop, screenshot the displayed QR code and save it to your computer (e.g. as signal_qr_code.png)

12) Decode the QR code (if you don’t have zbarimg, install it with sudo apt install zbar-tools):

zbarimg signal_qr_code.png

13) Copy the string that begins with “sgnl://linkdevice”

14) Enter this command to link to Signal Desktop:

torsocks ./signal-cli -a +1555444333 addDevice --uri "paste string here"

15) Now you can send messages and join groups via Signal Desktop. (Important: Don’t uninstall Signal-CLI, you will need it if you need to relink Signal Desktop, pair to another device or change your username/avatar/PIN.)

— — —

The dangers of “decentralized” ID systems

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/dangers-of-decentralized-id-systems For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

Many decentralized identity protocols are being developed, which claim to increase users’ privacy, enable interoperability and convenient single sign-ons, protect against identity theft and allow self-sovereign ownership of data.

However, many of these protocols rely on government ID as a base layer (as proof of name, age or address, referred to as “Verifiable credentials”). In this system, users are required to upload a video with their passport or national ID card. After this, their name, age or address is marked as verified. Then platforms can query this API and ask “is_over_18”,“full_name” or “country_of_residence”, but have no access to the user’s ID scan or any additional information (e.g. “is_over_18” only returns “true” or “false”, and doesn’t disclose the user’s name, home address or photo).

This reliance on government IDs means that DIDs cannot protect users against state surveillance (https://anarkiocrypto.medium.com/why-the-states-monopoly-on-identity-is-more-dangerous-than-google-facebook-and-microsoft-4ce415793d7e) and, just like the existing system, it continues to exclude millions of people who can’t get government ID (https://anarkio.codeberg.page/#/7560cf4a7685-short-posts/10-roadblocks-to-government-id).

Problem 1: Reliance on government ID as a base layer

If decentralized ID is just an extension of the existing government ID system, it provides neither privacy nor financial inclusion. Via government ID KYC, the state excludes regular people from jobs, banking, apartment rentals, healthcare, receiving mail, sim cards, contracts and more. If the state refuses to print ID for someone, there are no appeals nor NGOs who can help. Flag Theory (such as St Kitts passports, Panamanian residency, Estonian e-Residency or RNS.id) requires an existing passport or birth certificate. Even IDs for undocumented people (such as Californian AB 60 driver’s licenses) require a foreign passport, national ID card or birth certificate, and can’t help people who have no state-issued identity documents at all. In addition, Red Cross, United Nations and other NGOs don’t issue identity documents. This existing ID system is harmful, inaccessible and a single point of failure — and if decentralized protocols rely on this broken layer, they will continue to harm and exclude people.

Problem 2: The state won’t give up its monopoly on identity

Fortunately, some decentralized ID protocols aim to be inclusive, and instead of requiring government ID to verify a user’s name, age or location, they use social media or a web-of-trust. This removes the ability for state censorship, and instead allows your friends to vouch for you. With a web-of-trust, friends and family could vouch for your name, age or location; landlords could vouch for your address; employers could vouch for your skills; customers could vouch for businesses; and so on. As it doesn’t rely on government databases, but rather the people you know, it is truly decentralized and accessible.

However, it is unlikely that the state, who forces government ID regulations onto businesses, employers, landlords and healthcare providers, will accept these web-of-trust vouches as “proof of identity”. Instead, the state wants to uphold its monopoly on identity and its disproportionate ability to totally surveil and censor people from the mainstream economy. Even the United Nations (https://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/about-statelessness) and World Economic Forum (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/legal-identity-id-app-aid-tech) are aware of the damage caused by the state’s monopoly on identity, but are unable to convince the state to print IDs for millions of stateless and undocumented people, nor issue their own recognized non-government IDs. Therefore, it’s unlikely that web-of-trust or social media-based ID protocols will be usable for mainstream jobs, banking or apartment rentals.

That isn’t to say that non-government DIDs can’t be used for commerce or daily life. The internet has made it easier to connect with people worldwide and cryptocurrencies have made it possible to send money to anyone around the globe without a bank account or government ID. Despite the war on cash, local markets still accept cash and informal cash-in-hand economies exist around the world. In addition, agorism (https://anarkio.codeberg.page/agorism/) and Bitcoin and Monero circular economies (https://bitcoinmagazine.com/business/kyc-free-bitcoin-circular-economies) focus on building truly free markets outside of the state and corporations, where you can work, rent and travel without government ID. In these non-government markets, a web-of-trust could help with business reviews and reputation, proving education and skills when applying for jobs, or establishing trust for invite-only markets.

Problem 3: Decentralized ID can be censored

Some decentralized ID protocols use cryptocurrency addresses as identifiers, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin Lightning. However, there have been cases where platforms have censored users based on transaction history (such as using a KYC-free exchange, cryptocurrency mixer or buying from specific online stores).

Connecting your identity and social life to your finances already creates privacy concerns (as anyone who you interact with could easily find out your wealth and surveil your earnings and purchases). Even worse, censorship via chain analysis or KYC means that users could be shut out of exchanges, marketplaces, social media websites and more. Imagine that you are permanently banned from Facebook or Twitter, because you recently sent money to a gambling website, bought a CBD product or didn’t want to disclose sensitive information such as government ID (or are one of the 1 billion people worldwide who can’t get government ID, through no fault of their own).

From a technical perspective, cryptographic identifiers may provide better security than passwords. It is much easier to crack an insecure password compared to a (much stronger) Bitcoin private key. Cryptography also enables you to sign messages, proving that the content (such as a social media post, order or contract) really came from you, and not an impersonator.

That being said, PGP already offers cryptographic identifiers, to which you can optionally add your name (or pseudonym) and participate in a web-of-trust. You can use this PGP key not only to login to websites (by decrypting a code that the website sends you), but also verify content via PGP signatures and securely encrypt messages, emails and files. As PGP keys aren’t connected to your finances via a transparent blockchain and you can easily make pseudonymous and throwaway PGP keys, they offer a private and accessible identity framework.

Problem 4: Surveillance and the dangers of linking all your activity to one identity

But why do you need to verify a name? Why not take someone at their word, and allow them to choose what name they want to use? Why do all actions need to be linked to a single persistent physical identity?

Under the state’s government ID system, the state tracks people from birth certificate to death certificate — compiling details of individuals’ jobs, savings, purchases, home addresses, cars, vacations, medical history, phone calls, internet history and more. This level of surveillance is disproportionate and unethical.

An individual’s life should be private. Information should only be shared voluntarily on a need-to-know basis. For example, only your employer, colleagues and customers need to know about your job; only your doctor, pharmacy and insurance (unless you pay out-of-pocket) need to know about your medical history; and many people only share their home address with close friends and family.

Online, in the existing “username and password” model, users are free to create self-chosen identities, pseudonyms and throwaway accounts. It’s natural to want to compartmentalize your activities, such as using separate work and home profiles, not sharing your real life name or location with online chat groups, using a pseudonym for activism, artwork, music or writing, or creating an anonymous account to join a support group (such as for health issues, addiction or domestic abuse). Tying everything to a single identity could cause self-censorship, discomfort (in the case of sensitive or health-related topics) or even serious safety concerns (in the case of activism, discrimination or escaping from abuse).

For commercial transactions, such as shopping, jobs or apartment rentals, there are many ways to establish trust without a persistent or state-assigned identity, such as:

  • Anonymous transactions: Buying a loaf of bread or a bus ticket with cash or crypto doesn’t require a name. Just pay and the product is yours.
  • PINs and passwords: Pickup mail with a PO box key or a PIN sent to your phone number. Access depends on possession of the key or the PIN, so no personal ID is required. Passwords and PINs can be combined, such as a password to login and a 2FA PIN sent by SMS or email to confirm an action.
  • Cryptographic keypairs: Bitcoin uses pseudonymous cryptographic keypairs to send, receive and store money. PGP also uses pseudonymous keypairs, in order to encrypt messages, sign and verify data, and participate in a web-of-trust.
  • Reviews and reputation: Examples include customer reviews for a business, a job applicant’s portfolio, or a user’s profile on a couchsurfing or apartment rental website.
  • Cash deposits and escrows: Cash deposits can protect against theft or damages for rentals, and escrows can protect against scams when shopping online or working remotely.
  • Non-government IDs: Organizations such as Digitalcourage, Bitnation and World Passport issue non-government IDs, which are more accessible than state-issued passports, but are unfortunately currently not accepted in mainstream businesses.

For many commercial transactions, a persistent or personal identity is not necessary. In cases where a name is required, simply saying your name should be enough (with optional verification via a PIN, PGP signature, web-of-trust or social media profile). In any case, neither a single persistent identity nor a state-assigned identity should be required for participation in the economy or social networks.

Conclusion

The surveillance and exclusion currently caused by gatekept government ID systems shows us the dangers of identity databases. If you are working on decentralized identity, allow users to participate without linking government ID, allow pseudonyms and throwaways, and keep a regular “username and password” login available for people who prefer it. Don’t create a clone of the existing broken system, but take this chance to create an alternative, inclusive and privacy-friendly ecosystem that everyone can participate in.

— — —

Flag Theory vs. Micronations vs. Agorism

This article has moved to: https://agorism.blog/anarkio/flag-theory-micronations-agorism For updates, please check the new link. The archived article as of 2022–09–02 can be found below.

As authoritarianism, state surveillance and state censorship are increasing and individuals who want to live freely are met with hostility, many people are looking for escape routes, such as Flag Theory, building sovereign micronations or living entirely outside of the state via agorism.

Flag Theory

Flag Theory is one of these discussed escape routes. The premise is that nations would compete with each other for residents (who would generate income via taxation, investments, starting businesses or other economic activity) and individuals could choose which nation best fits their needs. Some examples include: St Kitts citizenship by investment, Panamanian permanent residency, Estonian digital residency and RNS.id’s national ID cards; becoming a digital nomad; or immigrating to a country with better living conditions or less state tyranny.

However, one problem is that all of these methods require an existing passport from a different country — which means Flag Theory can’t help you if your current country of residence or country of birth won’t print a passport for you (more info: https://anarkio.codeberg.page/#/7560cf4a7685-short-posts/10-roadblocks-to-government-id). Despite its marketing as global freedom, Flag Theory still relies on two cases of state permission: 1) A passport and permission to leave your current country 2) Permission to enter and a visa from the Flag Theory country.

Furthermore, economic incentives aren’t enough for many states — if the state refuses to print ID for you, there is no meritocratic way to “earn” access via skilled work, character references, a successful business or investments. The state doesn’t only want to enrich itself via taxation, but wants to entirely exclude people from society without recourse. State tyranny isn’t only driven by monetary greed, but also the pathological desire to control, surveil and censor innocent people.

A further problem is that state tyranny is everywhere. While there are certainly safer and freer countries, and escaping to a freer country can and does save people’s lives, authoritarianism is increasing globally. For example, increased KYC requirements mean that it’s impossible in most countries to open a bank account, get a job or rent an apartment without government ID (although depending on country, you may be able to avoid this via widespread cash-in-hand gray markets). Across the globe, corona restrictions shut down businesses, banned people from working or meeting friends and family, or even required experimental medical treatments in order to participate in society and the economy. In some countries, cops or even soldiers demanded ID from people walking in the streets and raided businesses that were still open. However, in other countries, people may have only been requested to wear a mask inside stores (and even this may not have been enforced). So it is true that there are still some “less tyrannical” countries, although relying on the state’s leniency may not be possible as global authoritarianism increases.

Micronations

So why not start your own nation? Many people have tried, from building seasteads in international waters to claiming “unclaimed” or disputed land. In theory, a libertarian micronation could provide an escape from global state tyranny, not only for people who reside there, but also for people who use remote services, such as citizenship, banking or company registration.

Although it sounds like international waters and unclaimed land would be free from state control, there have been cases of attacks by neighboring states or militaries, such as when a seastead in international waters was invaded by the Thai navy, or when Croatian cops arrested people who were trying to enter Liberland. Outside of direct hostility or even invasion by neighboring nation-states, international recognition is also an issue. If a micronation isn’t recognized by existing nation-states, trade, finances and logistics become difficult — for remote citizens, any banking, company registration or citizenship services wouldn’t be recognized by international banks, immigration authorities or KYC platforms, and for physical residents, entering or leaving the micronation, as well as importing supplies such as food, medicine or oil, would be difficult.

The hostility of existing nation-states against micronations makes creating an independent libertarian refuge a difficult task, but if a micronation could succeed, it could offer a much-needed escape route.

Agorism

Instead of asking for state permission — either to leave and join an existing state via Flag Theory, or to create your own state via micronations — why not avoid the state entirely?

Agorism describes markets that operate outside of the state’s knowledge and control. No company registration, government ID or permit is required to participate in these markets. Instead, these markets operate purely on supply and demand, without restrictions or censorship. Some examples include: working in a restaurant for cash under-the-table; renting an apartment from Craigslist without ID; importing medicine from a country that doesn’t require prescriptions; selling refurbished laptops without a registered company or tax declarations; using anonymous sim cards and PO boxes; or using proxy merchant services to bypass KYC.

Agorist markets have existed since decades under many names, such as informal, parallel, cash-in-hand or underground economies, second realms, or black, gray or unregulated markets. Even under communism and other authoritarian regimes, people successfully used agorist markets to access necessities that weren’t available from the state-censored market. There is a risk to this, but for many people who are excluded from the mainstream white market, agorism is the only possible way to access jobs, housing, healthcare or other daily life needs.

Agorism focuses on peer-to-peer trade by individuals, communities and small businesses — which means that state permission, corporate acceptance or mass adoption is not required. If you can find one agorist employer, one agorist landlord and one agorist doctor, you can easily access what you need, without worrying about the mainstream market or state regulations. This peer-to-peer, grassroots and decentralized nature helps agorism to thrive even in hostile environments.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero are practical tools for agorist markets. Unlike banking or credit cards, cryptocurrencies don’t require government ID or corporate permission, and unlike physical cash and gold, they can be sent to anyone around the world in minutes. Bitcoin and Monero circular economies make it possible to trade locally and globally outside of the state’s fiat system.

With agorism, there’s no need to wait for a revolution or mainstream adoption. Agorism already works and helps millions of people worldwide to access what they need outside of state censorship and surveillance. To learn more about agorism, visit: https://anarkio.codeberg.page/agorism/

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Anarkio Crypto

Anarkio Crypto

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Living on crypto and creating practical cryptocurrency solutions.