There has been a longstanding debate within the Bitcoin ecosystem on the concept of regulation and standardization of the industry. There are generally two camps of Bitcoin enthusiasts. One side contends that Bitcoin was meant not to be regulated. The other side wants to work alongside regulators to bring about mass adoption of the digital currency.
Currently, it is very easy for a wallet manufacturer to make claims about privacy that cannot be easily checked by the average user. Recent scams and fraudulent players in a rapidly growing industry have prompted both sides to reach a consensus; the industry needs a watchdog to protect consumers.
Enter the Watchmen
Last March Bitcoin Magazine covered C4’s announcement of a new Crypto Security Steering Committee consisting of notable security and crypto players in the space.
Andreas M. Antonopoulos has officially joined C4’s board of directors. Mike Belshe of BitGo, Eric Lombrozo of Ciphrex, Joshua McDougall and Michael Perklin of C4, Sean Neville of Circle and John Velissarios of Armory Enterprise have agreed to form the steering committee for C4’s CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS).
The mission of the steering committee is to “ensure the CCSS remains up-to-date, neutral and relevant in establishing security standards in the fast-changing world of cryptocurrencies.”
In a recent interview, Michael Perklin described the need for a measurement scale when hiring bitcoiners. “Hiring managers don’t know how to differentiate if someone knows Bitcoin or they don’t,” he said.
C4 began with personal certification and moved toward a security standard that includes wallet hardware and software. According to Perklin, the goal of C4 is to provide accountability to the industry.
C4 is not alone in keeping careful watch over the industry. There are other groups such as the Open Bitcoin Privacy Project and the Digital Currency Council aimed at providing accountability to the digital currency space.
Open Bitcoin Privacy Project
The OBPP, or the Open Privacy Project, is a Bitcoin privacy research organization lead by prominent figures in the Bitcoin community including Kristov Atlas, a well-known privacy researcher; software designer Justus Ranvier; engineer Daniel Krawisz at Monetas; technical illustrator Samuel Peterson and others.
Recently, the organization released a report detailing 10 leading bitcoin wallets, setting standards for privacy that they argue are much needed in the space. The bitcoin wallets in the report include Coinbase, Blockchain.info, Mycelium, Darkwallet, Airbitz, Armory, Electrum, Bitcoin Wallet and Multibit Classic.
According to Daniel Krawisz, the goal of OBPP is to “draw attention to privacy issues in the design of bitcoin wallets and standards, to compare one to another and determine what potential might theoretically be achieved.”
By comparing security standards, OBPP hopes to promote competition among manufacturers toward improved privacy features.
“The more evident the difference between the privacy functions of different wallets, the more they clearly fall short of the idea, the more effort [manufacturers] will devote to closing gaps,” Krawisz.
A list of criteria OBPP uses to determine and compare security can be found on GitHub.
Digital Currency Council
DCC is a private for-profit organization that offers certification and training for Bitcoin and blockchain professionals.
At first glance, the platform appears to be a “LinkedIn” for Bitcoin professionals and boasts impressive numbers. According to David Berger, to date, the DCC has trained more than 2,000 professionals at 300 leading firms. Its membership includes 1,500 professionals across 90 countries. DCC is establishing itself in the industry as a platform for members aimed at setting professional standards and establishing trust within the Bitcoin economy.
In the future, DCC plans to identify more ways to support members and bolster the community. DCC recently launched DCC Solutions, which provides customized software solutions for its members.
“I see our software solutions as a very powerful way that we can support our members and the community into the future,” Berger said.
Some critics have stated that a for-profit certification organization has an inherent conflict of interest where quality and oversight are rewarded through a simple cash transaction.
The average newcomer in the Bitcoin space has no technical background; therefore, there is a clear need for oversight and accountability within the space. Several organizations are stepping up to the plate. All types of organizations, be they for-profit, non-profit or open-source are being welcomed by the community.
As of now, there is no clear “winner” or one acceptable standard over the other. Several accountability authorities could pop up within the space, creating competition among the organizations, spurring greater scrutiny.
The question remains; who watches the watchers?