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Promising True Privacy for Online Purchases

Fairly or not, the Bitcoin economy has earned a reputation as a world of secrecy. Particl aims to change this perception by building a Bitcoin-based digital marketplace that delivers the networks emphasis on privacy without the murky secrecy that taints Bitcoin’s image in some consumers’ eyes.

Secrecy Vs. Privacy

To understand Particl’s vision, you have to recognize the difference between secrecy and privacy.

Secrecy has negative connotations. It conjures images of people doing negative things that give them a reason to hide. Privacy, on the other hand, is about the ability to keep information personal information just that. It’s a basic right that every human being should enjoy.

Bitcoin’s Secrecy Problem

Bitcoin has become a platform more associated with secrecy than with privacy in the public eye.

Headlines about Bitcoin’s use by secretive criminal groups dominate mainstream coverage of the technology. Ransomware attacks such as WannaCry rely on Bitcoin as a way for victims to pay attackers while keeping their identities secret. News organizations like Bloomberg publish stories on Bitcoin’s use for illegal drug transactions.

Of course, people who actually understand Bitcoin and other blockchain cryptocurrencies know that perceptions of Bitcoin as a secretive platform used by criminals are problematic, for two reasons.

First, Bitcoin is used for many other purposes that are perfectly legal and non-secretive. Second, Bitcoin is not actually as secret as many people believe. Although the Bitcoin blockchain provides nominal anonymity (some refer to it as “pseudonymous”), Bitcoin transactions are relatively easy to trace. Even if you are using Bitcoin because you have something to hide, you’re unlikely to actually be able to hide it.

Still, even if the popular notion of Bitcoin as a secret platform does not align with reality, this is an image that is hard to shake. Just as it was difficult in the early 1990s for the public to swallow the idea that the nascent World Wide Web was more than a den of identity thieves and pornographers, it is challenging today to get the typical consumer to think of Bitcoin, and blockchain in general, as being about more than secrecy. 

Particl’s Vision: Privacy, Not Secrecy

Particl hopes that by building a Bitcoin-based platform that is actually secret — meaning that transactions on it cannot be traced — and by providing privacy for legitimate marketplace transactions, the lingering reputation around cryptocurrency will change.

Particl leverages two technologies to guarantee privacy for users of its Bitcoin-based digital token, PART. The first is Confidential Transactions (CTs), a feature unique to Particl’s platform. CTs defeat linkability analysis on the PART blockchain.

The second is RingCT, a technology introduced on the Monero blockchain that is currently being implemented for PART tokens. RingCT adds additional protection against linkability tracing while also keeping information about the amounts of transactions private.

This means that, on Particl’s platform, there is no way for a third party to detect either the identity of a buyer and seller, or the amount of value they exchange — even though transactions are still recorded on an open source, public blockchain that is not subject to control by a central authority.

Building a Blockchain Marketplace 

A private and open blockchain is the foundation for Particl’s marketplace, where individuals and businesses will be able to buy and sell goods with total privacy. This won’t be a marketplace for illicit trading in drugs and ransoms. Particl instead aims to disrupt online retailers like Amazon. 

On the privacy front, Particl certainly has a leg up over traditional online retailers. When you buy or sell something on a site like Amazon, your identify and transaction information are only as private as the retailer decides to make them. The retailer itself knows who you are, what you bought and how much you paid for it. The retailer can share that information with third parties if it wishes.

On the Particl marketplace, things will work quite differently. No one — not even Particl — apart from a buyer and seller will know any details about any transaction. Identities and purchasing histories cannot be traced. User information cannot be sold by Particl because the privacy features built into PART tokens mean that Particl can’t collect transaction information, even if it wanted to. 

If you think of secrecy as something that appeals only to people with something to hide, and privacy as the fundamental right of every individual, it’s easy to see how Particl is committed to delivering the latter. The company is working to both reshape Bitcoin’s image and disrupt online retailing.

Disclaimer: Particl is a client of BTC Media, which owns Distributed.

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