Robert Bench, the director of applied research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, believes that privacy should be a concern when creating digital money, not an afterthought.
“Privacy is a question we’ve learned is critical from a technical perspective,” Bench said Friday at a Chamber of Digital Commerce:
“One of our lessons is that the questions of privacy and identity must be considered in the earliest phase of architecture. Making privacy or identity an ad hoc process is not optimal from both a privacy or identity perspective, and especially from a security perspective. ”
A largely digital world often means less privacy. Money is no exception. As countries look to central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, payments are less private than yesterday’s cash transactions. However, CBDCs may or may not offer users privacy.
“It’s something policymakers need to think about early on,” Bench said of privacy. “If you add it later, it won’t work that well.”
Bench’s comments answered a question from panel moderator and former US Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo, asking about privacy concerns when it comes to a USCBDC, as well as other digital currencies.
In the discussion, Tether (USDT) co-founder Craig Sellars looked to physical cash as the measure of necessary privacy in the digital world. “They have certain non-removable characteristics: fungibility, privacy, and anonymity at the peer-to-peer level,” he said:
“We should shift our question to this: If we have the technology to preserve those exact features of paper dollars, why accept digital dollars with fewer freedoms? I argue that we shouldn’t and shouldn’t. “
Sellars said the US has “an open field” ahead of it in terms of building a private and cash-like CBDC, as opposed to the “walled garden” structure used in competing countries’ CBDC efforts.
Contrary to this pro-privacy sentiment, the US Internal Revenue Service recently hired two crypto analytics companies to break privacy technology behind the anonymity-oriented Monero (XMR) Business asset.