It is already established that the use of cryptocurrencies is primarily in place to protect one’s privacy and to prevent the transactions from being tracked back to the person making the payments.
It is also widely known that many people use the dark web to communicate without censorship or government surveillance.
Among this subset of darknet users include genuine groups like whistleblowers and investigative journalists, and so on.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that WikiLeaks, which has become the mother of all whistle-blowing operations worldwide, makes it a point to accept donations in digital currencies.
The Julian Assange-led firm has already been accepting Bitcoin and Litecoin from donors, and now it has announced it’s adding Zcash to this list.
This latest development that WikiLeaks will henceforth honor donor payments in Zcash has evoked mixed responses from observers and experts.
WikiLeaks Held a Referendum of Sorts
Before the company decided to add Zcash to the basket of acceptable currencies, it wanted to know what the public at large—and its Twitter followers in particular—thought the best digital currency would be among three options given.
WikiLeaks conducted a poll to test its audience’s preference of Monero, Zcash or Ethereum.
Interestingly, the majority of responses chose Ethereum (though the Twitter posting misspelt it as etherium) and Zcash came a poor third with just 11 percent of votes in its favor.
However, WikiLeaks decided to go with this unit of currency.
This may be one of the reasons why many have questioned the wisdom of the firm opening up support for Zcash.
WikiLeaks’ History Regarding Cryptocurrencies
WikiLeaks started accepting cryptocurrency donations quite a while back; since 2011, to be precise.
It is estimated that the not-for-profit organization has seen 26,000 transactions on its Bitcoin wallet.
This all started after WikiLeaks learnt that cryptocurrencies would serve them best the hard way, as the organization first started accepting donations through its PayPal account.
Once WikiLeaks came into the limelight following the release of the Hillary Clinton emails and other sensitive government information, PayPal made a decision to freeze the organization’s account.
So, WikiLeaks was forced to find other ways to receive funding for its survival.
There are many among the public who sympathize with Assange’s cause and would want to support him in any possible way.
The shift to accepting donations in Bitcoins must have been the natural choice then.
The Effect of WikiLeaks’ Decision
The other argument that analysts would like to put forth is how much of an effect WikiLeaks’ move to accept cryptocurrencies can have on the currencies themselves.
It cannot be denied that Bitcoin, at the time WikiLeaks first decided to accept it from donors, was not so popular nor was its value highly significant.
But the currency is said to have grown in stature following WikiLeaks’ acceptance on its website.
Can Zcash also achieve anything close to that? Only the coming weeks and months may hold an answer to that question.
The jury is out on that one.
Is Zcash More Secure?
That begs the larger question, which digital currency offers better privacy? Again, there is no unanimity of views on this either.
Those behind the operation of Zcash would like to believe that their currency is the ideal option, since it is a highly decentralized currency and can travel to or from anywhere in the virtual world.
They also explain that the process followed in typical Zcash transactions is unique and has even a name to it.
It is called zk-SNARK and the technology is described as “zero-knowledge cryptography.”
In simpler language, transactions made in Zcash cannot be identified.
Neither the sender’s identity nor the amount transferred can be seen by anyone on the outside.
This perfectly fits with WikiLeaks’ objective to support citizen freedom without the prying eyes of agencies, like the FBI, from snooping around for clues regarding the identity of those making cryptocurrency transactions.
Some people still question this move, primarily citing the ownership pattern or the backers of Zcash.
These reports indicate that among the organizations mentioned as supporting Zcash as a cryptocurrency are Amazon and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology.
Furthermore, the critics against WikiLeaks’ decision are also those who question the very existence and acceptance of Zcash.
Many view the digital currency represents an ownership pattern that is closed in nature.
Their argument is that the very beauty of a digital currency lies in the concept of it being owned by a widespread group of independent people.