Experts back BoE’s privacy-focused approach in digital pound proposal

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The UK’s approach to a potential digital pound is drawing significant attention, particularly regarding privacy concerns. 

The Bank of England (BoE) and the Treasury, in their response to the extensive 2023 consultation, have highlighted a robust framework to ensure that privacy and user rights are at the forefront of this digital currency initiative.

Crypto industry insiders, including legal and technical experts, have expressed cautious optimism about the government’s approach to privacy in an exclusive CoinDesk report.

Jannah Patchay, from the Digital Pound Foundation, commended the government for recognizing privacy concerns at every stage. This sentiment reflects the already widespread concern among respondents and industry participants alike that neither the bank nor the government should access personal data.

The consultation, which saw over 50,000 responses, echoed a unanimous sentiment: the need for a secure and private digital currency system. Acknowledging this, the BoE’s proposed ‘platform model’ has been touted as a reassuring solution. 

This model, as explained by Richard Gendal Brown, CTO at R3, envisages private firms managing the customer interfaces while the BoE provides the underlying infrastructure. This separation is crucial in addressing privacy concerns, as it limits the government’s direct access to personal data, focusing instead on maintaining the integrity of the currency’s infrastructure.

The BoE’s statement on the digital pound also emphasizes its complementary nature to existing banknotes. The bank adds that this digital form of cash is not intended to replace physical currency but to offer an additional, modernized option for transactions.

The digital pound, therefore, represents not just a currency but a shift in the very concept of money and payments, adapting to the changing needs and habits of the public, the bank noted.

As of now, the government has pledged further public consultation before finalizing the digital pound’s future, emphasizing the need for a solution that is not only technically sound and private by design but also trusted by the public.

Privacy concerns surrounding Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have become a prominent issue in the U.S. as well, drawing attention from political figures. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a key player in the U.S. presidential race, has voiced strong opposition to the development of a CBDC. He warns that such a currency would allow the government to monitor every financial transaction, potentially leading to blackmail and infringing on civil rights.

Kennedy describes a CBDC as “a calamity for human rights and for civil rights.”

Similarly, former U.S. President Donald Trump has also expressed his opposition to CBDCs. Known for his critical views on Bitcoin, Trump has stated his intention to “never allow” the creation of a CBDC in the U.S., labeling it a “dangerous threat to freedom.” These remarks from both Kennedy and Trump highlight the growing concerns about the impact of digital currencies on privacy and individual liberties in the evolving financial landscape.

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