On Monday, software engineer John Cantrell released a messenger application called Juggernaut. It’s built entirely on top of bitcoin’s scaling layer, the Lightning Network, and offers end-to-end encrypted, onion-routed, peer-to-peer messages.
A new bitcoin privacy technology was born this week, inspired by the politics of the “Great Lockdown.”
EARN IT Act
Censorship isn’t strictly a pandemic issue, pending legislation could jeopardize legal protections for technologists and service providers long after coronavirus fades into memory.
The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, a bill sponsored by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal may soon force tech companies to abide by new online child protection laws or risk lawsuits for unmoderated content.
Riana Pfefferkorn, the associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, called the EARN IT Act a “stalking horse for banning end-to-end encryption,” supported by President Donald Trump.
Eugen Rochko, founder of the decentralized social network Mastodon, which runs on federated servers, believes bills like the EARN IT Act could further entrench tech monopolies. On the other hand, he said decentralized platforms can still address moderation concerns without government censorship.
“One benefit is that there’s just, like, more moderation,” Rochko said of grassroots networks. “The other benefit is that the moderation is more flexible to global needs because there is not a predefined set of rules that come from a specific place.”
From the perspective of Juggernaut’s Cantrell, creating a privacy tool for more decentralized social messaging felt like a “revolutionary” moment, discovering a radically different way to use bitcoin software. The Lightning Network could be used for anything from an “unstoppable poker room” to complex software services, he said.
“The messages are being routed over the Lightning Network. They’re not just simple messages, they’re server requests,” Cantrell said, adding the server requests could be configured to automate a wide range of computer functions. “I can access a paid API and pay for exactly what I use. It would allow for easier onboarding and global access.”