This Month in Sovereignty: April 2023
Our team has been busy throughout the month of April with major new releases of Envoy and Passport firmware along with preparations for a busy conference season, kicking off with Bitcoin Miami.
Dive into the latest updates below, and be sure to subscribe if you want to stay informed on all things sovereignty moving forward!
This month at Foundation
In the first week of May we debuted a massive new update to Passport for our fantastic community in Passport’s new firmware, v2.1.0:
- Passport version 2.1.0 is now live!
- “In version 2.1.0, we’ve leveraged all of the background work in recent versions to build out some amazing new features for you, including backporting v2.1.0 firmware to Founder’s Edition, sending to Taproot addresses, a Key Manager Extension for BIP-85 and Nostr key support and export, and BIP-85 SeedQR exports. Features, features everywhere.”
- This version of Passport firmware brings a wealth of new features, all securely backed up via encrypted microSD backups. Bringing the ability to manage all of your hot and cold wallets, all of your Nostr keys, and all of your friends and families wallets (if you choose to act as an “Uncle Jim”) under a single encrypted backup or seed phrase is a powerful thing. Peace of mind + powerful features.
- You can read more about our new Key Manager extension that enables all of these incredible features in our latest blog post, or in our support docs here.
April was also a month filled with major amounts of internal testing and multiple public betas as we continued to test Envoy as a standalone wallet before public release:
- 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.
April was a quieter month from us on the blog side as we focused heavily on software and firmware releases internally while preparing for a busy season of conferences and big announcements around Bitcoin Miami 2023.
With the release of our latest Passport firmware we debuted two major new features in BIP 85 (or “deterministic child seeds”) and Nostr key support. Because of the changes these bring and the possibilities they open up, we highlighted them in a special blog post:
- All your wallets, one backup
- “The introduction of a new “Key Manager” extension enables two powerful new tools in child seeds and Nostr keys, both of which are derived directly from your Bitcoin seed on Passport and automatically backed up to microSD. All of your wallets under one backup.“
Last month we published the first edition of “This Month in Sovereignty,” kicking off this outlet to keep up with what we’re doing here at Foundation, what we’re reading, and what we’re following in the space:
- This Month in Sovereignty: March 2023
- In March we focused on Nostr, P2P exchanges, and pushed major new releases for Passport and Envoy. Read the full newsletter to catch up!
Journey to Sovereignty
In April, we walked through what VPNs are and why they’re an immensely valuable tool for Bitcoiners, and then sat down with Ivan from Breez to learn about how they’re building an open-source toolkit to enable easier self-sovereign Lightning apps moving forward.
- EP #8 – Let’s make (good) VPNs the standard
- If you’ve heard the term “VPN” from a sketchy ad during a YouTube video or a shadowy super coder, you might have been turned off to the concept. Today we’re going to break down what a VPN is, how one works, and why they’re actually amazing tools for your every-day-carry digital toolkit. Let’s make (good) VPNs the standard.
- EP #9 – Making self-custodial Lightning easier w/ Ivan from Breez
- If it’s seemed too daunting to use Lightning without sacrificing custody of your Bitcoin, what Breez is building might be just the solution you need. On this week’s episode we sit down with Ivan from Breez to talk about the future of self-custodial Lightning and how we can beat fiat at it’s own game.
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
Matt Odell released a fantastic and deeply important episode of Citadel Dispatch this month on the shocking use of Chainalysis closed-source data and tooling to prosecute a seemingly innocent person for running the Bitcoin Fog centralized mixer.
- CD100: The Disturbing Chainalysis Led Prosecution of Roman Sterlingov with Mike Hassard and Tor Ekeland
- Faulty data and “black box” techniques have no place in a fair and open court room, but Chainalysis and other chain surveillance firms are making millions by offering just that to law enforcement.
One of the best educators in the space, Econoalchemist, put out a detailed review and guide around using Passport this past month in Bitcoin Magazine. He walks through initial setup, comparisons to Founder’s Edition, and how to use Passport to reclaim your privacy in Bitcoin via Sparrow Wallet.
As the Tor network continues to undergo a concerted DDoS attack by an unknown entity, they have narrowed down potential solutions and are focusing on implementing a novel proof-of-work algorithm to the connection flow for Tor users.
This month in digital sovereignty
Our very own BitcoinQnA released a major update and expansion of his open-source educational website and resource, bitcoiner.guide, this month. It now features a beginner, intermediate, and advanced track, a new look, Nostr live chat and lots more content!
Blue Wallet, a fantastic mobile wallet with excellent support for Passport, released a major new update that includes a fixed Payjoin implementation and an initial release of BIP 47 “PayNym” support (receive only for now)
The U.S. government continued their push against encryption and personal privacy this month with three new or renewed bills to restrict our freedom online. The EFF has done a fantastic job covering these new developments below:
- The Kids Online Safety Act is Still A Huge Danger to Our Rights Online
- The EARN IT Bill Is Back, Seeking To Scan Our Messages and Photos
- The STOP CSAM Act Would Put Security and Free Speech at Risk
This month’s step towards personal privacy and security
As we covered the topic at length in one of this month’s Journey to Sovereignty episodes, we figured it would make sense to focus this month’s actionable step towards personal privacy on using a privacy-preserving and non-logging VPN provider.
While a VPN provider isn’t a perfect solution to network privacy issues, it does allow you to shift the trust from your network provider (home ISP, mobile carrier, etc.) to a 3rd-party you trust more than them (and one that doesn’t have your personal information or address). Once you’re using a VPN, you’re actively preventing the sites, apps, and tools you interact with online from learning your home IP address and connecting all of your activities back to you.
Our team is a big fan and many of us are users of two well-known VPN providers in the space which we’ve linked below for easy reference. Both IVPN and Mullvad accept Bitcoin (on-chain and Lightning) for subscriptions and require no information from you to create an account, not even an email address!
Please note that we have no direct affiliation with either provider and don’t profit off of your use of either, we just love their approaches and use them ourselves.
What we’re working on
In May we’ll be attending Bitcoin Miami with a large portion of our team, and can’t wait to meet some of you all there! We’ll also be selling Passport directly from our booth, making conferences the best way to buy Passport without disclosing any information (even shipping address) to us or anyone else.
We also can’t wait to get Envoy as a standalone wallet out to the general public, and will be releasing it ahead of the conference so keep an eye out for that.
To keep up with what we’re building, you can follow us on Twitter, on Nostr, or subscribe to our newsletter on our website so you can stay in the loop.