Today many owners of BTMs (Bitcoin Teller Machines) are wishing they had picked a manufacturer other than Robocoin. The Las Vegas-based BTM company is now attempting to control the operation of machines that have already been sold, against the wishes of some (and possibly many) of the machines’ owners. And the proprietary 2.0 software Robocoin is attempting to push would jeopardize the security of customers using the BTMs.
Yes, the simple notion of contract—that is, a voluntary agreement between parties—allows for any kind of business arrangement, including one in which a seller can dictate to a buyer how property can be used. But that doesn’t seem to be the issue here, as at least one Robocoin owner was under the impression when he purchased his machines that he’d be allowed to use the 1.0 software without interruption.
Just what does the 2.0 software do? In short, it makes individuals who would purchase bitcoins from Robocoin BTMs less safe. It features a closed-source data collection and storage database, similar to the 1.0 version, but the difference this time is that Robocoin operators are being told that they're not allowed to opt-out of it.
Whereas many BTM owners understand that the best way to protect their customers’ privacy is not to store their private information (duh), Robocoin’s 2.0 software is reportedly does just that. This makes Robocoin BTMs just another single-point-of-failure in a world full of malicious hackers (governmental and non-governmental) who want access to others’ private data.
Jonathan James Harrison, an owner of four Robocoin BTMs, is leading the effort to keep Robocoin customers safe from Robocoin. He’s encouraging fellow BTM owners to hack their machines and instead use the open-source software released by competing BTM company Lamassu.
Robocoin CEO, Jordan Kelly, said in response to the backlash:
“Let's ask this question. How many Bitcoin ATMs do we want in the world? Do we want 30? Do we want 100? Do we want 200? Or do we want 1,000, 10,000, 100,000? . . . Whether or not we wind up having to part ways with a few guys that lack alignment with us, that's just the way it goes.”
There may indeed come a time when there are tens of thousands of BTMs in the world. But with a penchant for agreement-breaking and a blatant disregard for customer privacy, commenter Luke Parker may have said it best on Coindesk: “Speaking on behalf of the people ‘out of alignment’ with Robocoin, I'm pretty sure we're going to see a million BTMs in a few years time. And 0% of those will be Robocoin.”
Should other BTM manufacturers choose to go the way of Robocoin, Bitcoin buyers would do well to remember that there are other options to anonymously getting your hands on the cryptocurrency. This includes cash services like LocalBitcoins, wire transfer services like CoinChimp or even check/money order options from individuals like The Bitcoin Couple. More convenient still is getting paid in Bitcoin for goods and services that you offer.
Yes, maintaining anonymity is somewhat of a pain. But it’s not nearly as painful as being spied on.
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