Why You Don’t Need Permission To Use Bitcoin
Bitcoin is really for everyone.
Nobody has to be approved to use it. And when I say nobody, I mean nobody. Not now, not ever.
Bitcoin doesn’t even want to know your name. It can’t. It also doesn’t want to know your gender, your age, your income, your race, your politics, your driving record, your debts, your assets, your kinks or any single thing at all about you.
Have you got a large random number? Good, you can use bitcoin. (Hint, if you’re reading this on a computer or phone you can generate such a number.)
Got some bitcoin you want to send to somebody else? Bitcoin doesn’t care who they are either.
Nobody is in charge of Bitcoin. So, you don’t need anyone’s permission to use it.
Why is Bitcoin like this? Because it is built to avoid having to trust any permission granting institution and to outlast it too. Bitcoin is forever, wherever for everyone. So if you’re in Zimbabwe now, you can use it. If you’re living in Antarctica in 200 years, that’s fine. You see, countries will come and go, companies will come and go, rulers will come and go but Bitcoin will still be here, operating independent of whether any particular countries, companies and rulers exist.
How does bitcoin avoid its users having to get permission to use it? Remarkably by not building users into its system at all. Bitcoin only knows that bitcoins exist at numbers known as Public Keys (or, more commonly, addresses derived from these Public Keys). And anyone can generate a Public Key and the associated, top-secret, Private Key that goes along with it. In fact you can go ahead and generate millions of these Private-Public key pairs and Bitcoin wouldn’t have a clue if you were one person or a million people. I mean, it really doesn’t even know or care that people exist!
All Bitcoin cares about is that if you want to send some bitcoin from one address to another, you can produce the computer generated proof that you have the Private Key associated with where those bitcoins are stored. That’s it. It doesn’t want to know who you are, what you’re buying, why you’re sending the coins, where the recipient is or anything else for that matter.
Now, this idea may initially bother you a little bit. Doesn’t that mean criminals can use Bitcoin? Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but criminals can use other forms of money too. In fact, criminals have existed since long before Bitcoin was released in the year 2009. Moreover, in many places in the world, the real criminals are the tyrants in charge who label innocent civilians as criminals. So Bitcoin isn’t taking any sides here. It doesn’t even know people exist so it sure as heck doesn’t know that people have ideas like crimes. It just has this rule that you can spend bitcoins if you know the right Private Key. And this rule will never change because it is rooted in the laws of nature.
That’s why Bitcoin is money for anyone, anywhere, anytime — everywhere and forever. Bitcoin is open to all races, all ages, all genders, all income ranges, all backgrounds, all beliefs. No systemic prejudice towards anyone, ever! By the way, that means a lot of people will choose to use bitcoin, and the more that choose to use it, the more valuable it will become.
Want more? This entire series (plus a 26th bonus article) is available as a pdf or kindle ebook at https://swanbitcoin.com/whybitcoin.
This is article 4 of “Why Bitcoin” — a series of articles I am writing that are all short, accessible to newcomers and still interesting to long time Bitcoiners.