Coinalytics is a Bitcoin data aggregation service that takes requests for transaction-mapping. They work to identify “clusters” in the blockchain and use them in an attempt to connect real-world identities to Bitcoin addresses. Using a tweeted suggestion of a BTC address to start from, Coinalytics has made this map of supposed Silk Road transactions:
- “The numbers within clusters are IDs Coinalytics uses to track each Bitcoin address relationship. Note the transaction flow from cluster to cluster. Cluster 917, for example, is composed of nearly 350,000 addresses; yet this visual flow enables clean view of entity relationships.” – Coinalytics Silk Road blog post
Coinalytics says about cluster-identification and mapping:
“The blockchain in effect builds identifiable profiles. The data just needs to be tied together in order to translate it into digestible information.”
They’ve also mapped the transactions they believe lead to Moolah’s declared bankruptcy. While this kind of information-synthesis can be useful, as in cases of detecting theft (as was suspected from then-existing Silk Road 2.0 earlier this year), profiles built on purchasing history are undesirable for many shoppers.
For Bitcoin-paying shoppers who don’t want profiles about themselves built, how to protect privacy then becomes the goal. It creates an even stronger call for tools like the DarkWallet, which is now in alpha version 7. It also calls for good-old-fashioned coin mixing (offered by DarkWallet, Blockchain.info wallets and Bitcoin Fog), and never using the same address twice.
As other cryptocoins have launched, borrowing heavily from Bitcoin but frequently implementing their own features, we may come to see that another coin simply becomes the go-to for privacy. MaidSafe’s native token Safecoin, for example, will not exist on a blockchain, but rather on a “transaction manager” hosted on the SAFE network. The MaidSafe devs say that this will make coin transaction histories unknowable beyond the current and previous owner. The MaidSafe network is set to launch soon and just wrapped up a logo design contest for the Safecoin.
Other coins are getting more traction in online free markets, too, among them Darkcoin. Using a feature called Darksend, the Darkcoin protocol automatically mixes every transaction with the inputs of two other transactions. It’s basically what you’d have if Satoshi Nakamoto had written Bitcoin Fog right into his protocol.
Darkcoin’s price went from 75 cents to seven dollars in just a month earlier this year when a few online free markets began to accept it. So while those who don’t mind being mapped by the likes of Coinalytics are good to go with Bitcoin, the desire for transaction and identity privacy will likely lead to further growth in other cryptocurrencies and tool-packed wallets.
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