This Month in Sovereignty: March 2023
Welcome to This Month in Sovereignty, a new monthly newsletter from Foundation.
With all that we have going on here at Foundation, the exciting news among our ecosystem partners, and the rapid pace of innovation around Bitcoin and self-sovereignty tools, we wanted to create a one-stop place for you to keep up with everything happening in the space.
We’ll use this newsletter to highlight development and content at Foundation, give you insight into what we’re loving this month as a team, and help you keep up with the ever evolving world of self-sovereignty, privacy, and Bitcoin. Let’s dive in.
This month at Foundation
It’s been a very busy month for us as we’ve finished squashing a few key bugs and have been able to focus more on building out new features for Passport and Envoy by the handful. We shipped two firmware updates for Passport, drastically improving QR and transaction signing performance, and shipped a major new open beta for Envoy featuring complete hot wallet support.
- Passport version 2.0.7 is now live!
- We focused on rebuilding transaction signing and QR scanning from the ground up, bringing you a faster and more seamless experience when sending Bitcoin using your Passport.
- Envoy Wallet Open Beta
- With this open beta we’re greatly expanding what Envoy is capable of, making it a feature-rich Bitcoin hot wallet in addition to its existing role as a watch-only wallet and management app for Passport.
Our broad focus on content this month was around equipping you with the tools you need to gain financial sovereignty through Bitcoin privacy, and to approach Nostr in a privacy-preserving way as a new and powerful social media platform.
- Privacy on Nostr
- “Nostr has been taking the Bitcoin world by storm over the past few months, and with it comes a chance to correct the mistakes of the current social media paradigm… Nostr takes a novel approach to its network design, and we want to be sure that Nostr users like yourself are well-equipped to use Nostr in a way that preserves your privacy and security from the start.”
- We believe Nostr is social media as it should be.
- You can follow us on Nostr here: @Foundation
- Bitcoin doesn’t need banks
- We expanded on the concepts discussed on Journey to Sovereignty in our special “Bitcoin doesn’t need banks” in a standalone blog post, walking through our favorite no-KYC P2P exchanges, how they work, and how you can get started.
- “You just traded fiat for Bitcoin directly with another human without involving any intermediaries, without sacrificing your personal privacy, and without giving up custody of funds to an exchange for a prolonged period of time. P2P exchanges are the future.”
Journey to Sovereignty
We started a new podcast and Twitter Space this year called “Journey to Sovereignty” as a place for us to chat about all things sovereignty, the why and how of reclaiming your digital sovereignty, and to give you all a chance to chime in, ask questions, and join the conversation. We’ve had a great time diving deeply into the concepts of sovereignty, personal privacy, and Bitcoin’s power to provide financial freedom.
In March, we walked through on-chain privacy in Bitcoin, discussed how we can free ourselves from banks and middle-men as we acquire Bitcoin, and how an ongoing attack against Bitcoin nodes works and how you can protect yourself against it.
- EP #6 – Protecting our privacy on Bitcoin (Part 1)
- In this episode we took a more technical deep dive into all things Bitcoin privacy, starting with why Bitcoin transactions reveal the information they do, and what information we must protect to preserve our privacy while using Bitcoin.
- SPECIAL – Bitcoin doesn’t need banks
- In this episode we talk through how Bitcoin was built from the ground up to stand on its own and how you can acquire and use Bitcoin without ever touching your bank account.
- EP #7 – Who’s spying on your Bitcoin node?
- If you’ve heard about ways that Bitcoin nodes can track you or theoretical attacks against Bitcoin nodes, we’ve got you covered in this episode. We dive into how network privacy works in Bitcoin, what nodes learn about you, and discuss an active attack against your node that’s been going on for the past few months.
- Our conversation was based on the excellent research published by 0xB10C here:
You can follow the podcast on your favorite platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Fountain, a Bitcoin-powered podcast platform where you can support content creators directly with your sats.
If you listen and boost Journey to Sovereignty on Fountain, we forward 100% of the sats you send us to other free and open-source projects we love in the Bitcoin space:
What we’re following
In this segment of the newsletter we share what our team has been loving in the space, be it podcast, blog posts, media, etc. Get to know the Foundation team a bit better and hopefully find some content you’ve been missing!
- Our team has been diving deep into Nostr, and with it comes lots of good content around the rapidly growing space:
- Struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape of Nostr? We’ve been enjoying the Nostrovia Podcast, available on all your favorite podcast platforms.
- Jameson Lopp and Lyn Alden wrote our favorite pieces on the topic of Nostr so far:
This month in digital sovereignty
March ended up being an absolutely shocking month of news from every angle, including bank collapses, harsh proposed regulations, and big news in the privacy ecosystem.
- Members of US Congress proposed the RESTRICT Act – supposedly as a tool to prevent China from wielding addictive platforms like Tik Tok as a cyberweapon for data collection and manipulation – giving sweeping power to the federal government to restrict access to specific apps or tools and levy harsh penalties on anyone who breaks these new rules.
- The RESTRICT Act also proposes harsher penalties for anyone using a VPN or anonymity network to try and get around a ban or restriction, reminiscent of the “Great Firewall of China” and the Chinese government’s totalitarian control over Internet access.
- Here are two of the best pieces of content we’ve found around the bill:
- A run on banks caused by doubt around solvency led to multiple banks collapsing in March in the US and around the world, sparking fears of an epilogue to the financial collapse of 2008. Our friends over at The Bitcoin Layer provided incredible insight into the collapse and covered how they see things playing out over the long term in these posts:
- Mullvad teamed up with the Tor Project to release a spin on the Tor Browser… without Tor! This is a hyper-secure and privacy-focused browser based on Firefox that drills down on protecting your anonymity while you browse without introducing the inherent user experience issues of Tor.
This month’s step towards personal privacy and security
Still stuck on Google Chrome or default Firefox but looking to improve your privacy while browsing? Our focus this month is to help you make the jump to a browser that cares about your privacy from the start, providing you a strong base and a jumpstart towards better online privacy.
- One of our favorite hardening guides for Firefox is made by an excellent content creator in the privacy space, TechLore. This guide goes step by step with very simple instructions and walks you through the process. Don’t let it scare you! It’s very straightforward, and only needs to be done once per computer.
- Brave Browser
- Brave has some excellent defaults, but certainly takes some odd approaches (like cryptocurrency ads all over the place and built-in cryptocurrency wallets which aren’t helpful to most people). This guide will help you harden its defaults, disable all of the Brave cryptocurrency integration, etc.
- Mullvad Browser
- Mullvad’s browser was just announced this month, but provides a great entry-point for the more hardcore among you. It takes strong steps towards reducing browser fingerprinting and bundles an excellent set of defaults for you out of the box.
What we’re working on
We’re excited to release a swath of updates for Passport and Envoy in April, including an open beta for Passport v2.1.0 that will include lots of exciting new features that we’ve been building out for you. This might just be our biggest month of software releases ever.