It’s Genesis Block Day. Do You Know Where Your Bitcoin Keys Are?

Today is Bitcoin Day, the anniversary of the Genesis Block that marked the beginning of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2009. This year, with the price of bitcoin shooting for the moon, Bitcoiners have more reason to celebrate – and more reason to assert their sovereignty over their private keys.

An annual event first initiated by Trace Mayer, Proof of Keys is an informal celebration that aims to remind bitcoiners that monetary sovereignty is a fundamental part of Bitcoin’s ethos. It lies at the very heart of the familiar Bitcoiner mantra, “not your keys, not your coin.” In other words, if you don’t control the private keys to your bitcoin, you don’t really own the coin.

The saying is a reminder that Bitcoin was built to give users complete control over their finances. It’s also a reminder of the potential consequences of trusting your bitcoin keys to a third party (like losing your funds in an exchange hack).

Establishing monetary sovereignty

“Anyone who doesn’t want you to hold your own private keys – they’re your monetary enemy. They don’t want you to be free and independent with your money,” Mayer said in the lead-up to 2019’s inaugural event. “That’s just the way it is.”

The implications of being reliant on others to process, exchange and hold your cryptocurrencies aren’t immaterial. They hold acute consequences and compromises of your privacy, and will limit how you interact with your own money.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) gathers extensive personal information on millions of people’s financial transactions, all provided to them by financial institutions, even when those people have not committed any crime.

This year, taking custody of your keys by moving them to a personal wallet takes on an added level of significance. FinCEN has proposed a plan that will force exchanges to comply with new know-your-customer (KYC) requirements when users try to transfer their funds to a personal wallet. Such a…

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