Orchid’s in-app purchases feature is a huge step forward for personal privacy
I’ve said for years that cryptocurrencies have the potential to restore true privacy to people -- or to fully rob them of it. So I’m very happy to say that Orchid, the decentralized VPN marketplace, has taken a huge step towards the former with its new in-app purchases feature. People can use this feature by simply downloading the Orchid app in the Apple App Store.
Why is this such a big deal? There are two reasons: Orchid has made it harder to monitor people’s activity by following the public ledger’s “breadcrumb trail.” And they have made it much easier for people -- even those outside crypto -- to use an Internet privacy tool.
Trust math, not people
In our world there are two ways to be private. We can trust others with our information and hope they are trustworthy. Or we can trust math by using encryption and other technical tools to ensure others can’t see our information at all.
Orchid’s privacy network shows how well trusting math can work. The system lets users string together “hops” between multiple VPN providers, making it more difficult for anyone -- even the VPNs themselves -- to be able to see their Internet activity.
On top of that, the network has introduced a really innovative solution to the “breadcrumb” issue I describe above. With Orchid’s probabilistic nanopayments, providers are paid not in cryptocurrency but in “tickets.” A tiny percentage of tickets are “winners,” and providers only receive payment when they get a winning ticket. Over time, the amount paid will be almost exactly the same as it would be through a straightforward money-for-service architecture. But the randomness introduced by probabilistic nanopayments makes it harder to see exactly who is paying for what.
In-app purchases are a big step toward solving the second part of the privacy equation: getting more people to practice privacy. I was the first major investor in cryptocurrencies, and I strongly believe in their capacity to further the cause of human freedom by removing the coercive and exclusionary power of central banks and other authorities. But I recognize that so far, they haven’t always been the most user-friendly tools. In fact, one of the biggest obstacles to broader adoption of crypto technology has been just how difficult and onerous it can be to sign up and get started.
Orchid makes privacy easy
But Orchid’s in-app purchases show it doesn’t have to be this way. Using this feature, which is available now in Orchid’s iOS app, people can fund an Orchid account as simply as they would make a purchase anywhere else. They’ve taken a long, multi-step process that involves wallets, exchanges, and private keys, and streamlined it down to a single action with no reduction in security or privacy.
To do this, Orchid pre-funds a set number of accounts which sit in a pool. When a user makes an in-app purchase, they are randomly assigned one of these accounts. They get a private key and the ability to share or transfer the account -- all the same abilities as they would if they funded an account with OXT, the Orchid digital currency, themselves. In fact, these pre-filled accounts are probably even more private than regular Orchid accounts since, like burner phones, they are “disposable” and not permanently tied to any real-world identity.
Blazing a trail for privacy
I’ve always been a big fan of Orchid. It returns to people the power to share, or not share, their information voluntarily rather than through coercion. It creates problems for those who want to use violence to control peaceful people, which makes it a good thing in my view. Now they’ve made it possible for even more people to regain their privacy, and therefore their autonomy, when they use the Internet. Congratulations to the Orchid team for this remarkable achievement.