Andrea Togni

Articles by Andrea Togni

The Arrest of Samourai Wallet Developers Shows the US Government Hates Privacy and Freedom

On April 24, two lead developers of Samourai Wallet (SW), the most-advanced privacy-centric wallet in the bitcoin ecosystem, were arrested and charged with money laundering and money transmitters offenses by order of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). This is just the latest assault of an escalating war waged by US regulators on financial privacy and freedom.Other examples are the arrest of Tornado Cash developers—a privacy protocol developed for Ethereum and other blockchains—and the pressure exerted by three-letter agencies on centralized exchanges to delist privacy-centric cryptocurrencies such as monero. Regulation by arrest and intimidation is the strategy deployed by the US government to drain liquidity from privacy-preserving money, which is perceived as a threat to the

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The Government Wants to Turn Blockchain Firms into Servants of the State

In recent years, blockchain surveillance (BS) companies have become increasingly important players in the cryptocurrency industry. Their business model consists in developing proprietary software that collects and interprets public data available on public blockchains and in selling their services to governments, banks, exchanges, and others that need access to this data. Usually, governments are interested in collecting information about financial crimes, while other institutional players use BS companies for compliance, especially with regard to customer due diligence. This article argues that BS companies can be understood as governmentalities.
Michael Rectenwald deploys this term to “refer to corporations and other non-state actors who actively undertake state functions.” The

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How East Germany’s Stasi Perfected Mass Surveillance

The state has a monopoly on violence. However, abusive repression harms government credibility and alienates public support in the long run. A more subtle and effective way to exercise power is to surveil the population and to prevent open manifestations of discontent.
This article analyzes the case of the of the German Democratic Republic’s (DDR) Ministry for State Security (MfS), also known as the Stasi. The thesis is that an effective surveillance regime makes the use of open violence less urgent because the population is nudged to discipline itself.
Shield and Sword of the Party
A shield and a sword form the symbol of the MfS, which is modeled on the emblem of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police. Discipline and loyalty to the Socialist Unity Party (SED) of the DDR were the core values

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The GDPR Paradox: Empowering Government in the Name of Data Protection

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became effective in 2016, is one of the most detailed legislative schemes in the field of data protection. This article discusses two libertarian-minded objections to its approach. First, I argue that the notion of “right” adopted in the GDPR is flawed. Second, it shows that the GDPR doesn’t protect individuals from data-hungry governments and corporations. In the end, data protection legislation makes people strong in theory but weak in practice, while making powerful private and public entities weak in theory but strong in practice.
A Flawed Notion of “Right”
The GDPR seeks to protect fundamental individual rights relating to the collection and processing of personal data. These include the right to access, the right

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