Balaji Srinivasan, the former chief technology officer of Coinbase, has raised concerns about the possibility of the US government using tech giants like Apple and Google to gain access to citizens’ cryptocurrency wallets. Srinivasan believes that as world governments face potential bankruptcy in the coming decade, they might resort to seizing Bitcoin in order to fund their operations. While he doesn’t believe the US government has the capability to execute a 51% attack on Bitcoin, he suggests that China could potentially do so, although it is less likely now due to most mining occurring outside of Chinese borders.
According to Srinivasan, the real “systemic risks” for cryptocurrencies lie with companies like Apple and Google. He speculates that the government might attempt to compel these tech companies to search for private keys on servers, devices, and browsers under their control, and to transfer any stolen funds to the federal government. Srinivasan describes this as cyberwar rather than cyberterrorism, emphasizing that it involves the CEO of a company giving lawful orders to hack their customers. He compares this to a situation in early 2022 when tech companies in Russia turned against their former customers, who were designated enemies of the state.
Apple and Google are systemic risks to crypto.— Balaji (@balajis) May 19, 2023
If weaponized by the federal government, they could backdoor iPhone and Android to exfiltrate private keys.
In March, Srinivasan gained attention in the crypto world by betting a million dollars that Bitcoin would reach $1 million within 90 days, as a response to failing banks and hyperinflation. Although the price of Bitcoin was around $27,000 at the time of the bet and remained at a similar level when he closed the wager by paying out $1.5 million, Srinivasan claimed that his intention was to raise public awareness about the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policies.
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