S12 E12: Max Hampshire on Nym, Tor & Internet Privacy

Nym is one of the most interesting and promising projects in the field of internet privacy. And in the context of Bitcoin (the internet’s native currency), it brings a new hope for better user protection against surveillance capitalism and government tyranny.

At its core, Nym is a Chaumian mixnet – a more complex data privacy tool which mixes data packets to create equal outputs.It doesn’t only conceal your IP address like Tor or a VPN service, it also makes your data equal with that of other internet users. Furthermore, your data packets can also get significantly delayed to the point where the sending and the receiving moments become hard to match.

These are all privacy methods that have been tried before. Mixnets are nothing new, as cypherpunks have attempted to create various iterations. However, they all failed due to a lack of node operators and user demand for such a service. Nym refreshes the idea in an era when internet privacy is more popular and there are ways to reward participators who decentralize the network and increase the anonymity set.

If you’re familiar with how CoinJoins work for Bitcoin, then it’s fairly easy to understand what happens to your data when it goes through a mixnet. You get a pool of users who exchange information, and their output becomes equal and indistinguishable. Though it becomes clear that the privacy tool is being used, there’s a degree of plausible deniability involved.

Previously, I’ve interviewed Nym CEO Harry Halpin to find out more about the origins and philosophical direction of the project. But in the year that’s passed, Nym has received significant amounts of development which make it a more attractive tool for internet privacy. It still doesn’t have all the integrations the average user would like (starting it from the browser, or enabling it from Bitcoin Core, Electrum, or Wasabi).

In early October of this year, I attended Hackers’ Congress Paralelni Polis and I’ve once again met Harry Halpin. However, he was busy networking and preparing an on-stage presentation. So I was introduced to Max Hampshire, who’s in charge of developer relations. It was a pleasant surprise to meet him, as he is a philosophical person who enjoys exploring the depth of nuanced topics which relate to privacy and he is also technically-inclined.

During my interview with Max Hampshire, I was able to find out more about how the project works and what the next goals are. I’ve also been able to discuss the controversial topic of adding a token for monetization, which some potential users dislike. But overall, I’m more than happy to observe how an advanced internet privacy tool blossoms and gets closer to its goal of providing an alternative to Tor.

Listen to Max Hampshire on Apple Podcasts, Spotify & YouTube! Please leave feedback.

Since this episode is about privacy and escaping the big tech panopticon, I recommend you to download the Tor browser and use it to open this URL. This is the most private way to listen to the podcast recording, as there is no registration involved, there is no tracking, and even my web host will be confused about your IP address and location.

While big tech is convenient, you shouldn’t give these companies too much data about yourself. To the very least, you should always be ready to abandon such platforms and get the same kind of service from free and open source projects.

But if you do use Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube, then please leave feedback. Your likes, comments, and subscriptions are very important for content ranking. If you take a few seconds of your time to tell the big corporation that you enjoy this recording, then others will find the content with more ease. So if you want others to find out more about internet privacy and Nym, then please consider supporting the Bitcoin Takeover podcast with your appreciation.

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Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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