Based on blockchain technology, most cryptocurrencies have an open and public ledger. While this is required for these systems to work, it comes with a significant downside: Privacy is often quite limited. Government agencies, analytics companies and other interested parties — let’s call them “spies” — have ways to analyze the public blockchains and peer-to-peer networks of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, to cluster addresses and tie them to IP addresses or other identifying information.
Unsatisfied with Bitcoin’s privacy features, several cryptocurrency projects have, over the years, launched with the specific goal to improve on them. And not without success. Several of these privacycoins are among the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market today.
However, as detailed in this month’s cover story, Bitcoin’s privacy features have recently seen significant improvements as well and are set to further improve over the next months and years. This miniseries will compare different privacycoins to the privacy offered by Bitcoin.
In part one: Dash.
Dash (DASH) is among the most popular but also the more controversial cryptocurrencies in the space today.
Originally a codebase fork from Litecoin (which is in turn a codebase fork of Bitcoin), Dash was launched by its founder Evan Duffield in January 2014 as Xcoin. The project was quickly rebranded to Darkcoin, seemingly in reference to Dark Wallet, a now-defunct, privacy-focused bitcoin wallet project. Darkcoin rebranded a second time in early 2015, to the current name Dash, which stands for “digital cash.” At the time of writing, Dash claims a 12th spot on the cryptocurrency market cap lists, down from a top five spot for some time in early 2017.
Much of the controversy surrounding Dash stems from the early days of the project.