Privacy concerns have been growing as more countries seriously explore central bank digital currencies that could make spying easy.
A week after minting its first batch of digital Jamaican digital dollars, the Bank of Jamaica has promised it will respect users’ privacy.
The island nation’s central bank digital currency
— or CBDC — push is currently in the middle of a J$230 million (nearly $1.5 million) pilot which should lead to a roll-out in 2022. That still puts it behind the Bahamas’ already circulating Sand Dollar.
“Due to the fact that CBDC has a digital footprint, the ability to track exists,” the Bank of Jamaica told a local news source, the Jamaica Observer, on August 18. “However, this information is not shared with the Bank of Jamaica and any other authority due to customers' confidentiality and data protection.”
“This information,” the BoJ promised, “can only be shared under a court order.”
All Around the World
A CBDC-focused map
of the world shows that nearly every country has at least engaged in research about creating a CBDC.
Privacy concerns have been growing as governments around the world
, including the G7 and G20 economies, the EU, and especially China
, push forward with CBDC research and testing.
China is far and away the leader in establishing a working CBDC, the digital yuan renminbi, and has promised users’ privacy
— with a big old asterix, of course. That is “controllable anonymity,” with small transactions left anonymous.
The issue has also arisen in the EU — which at one point suggested
“anonymity vouchers” — and the U.S.
, among other nations.
While warning that the ability of law enforcement to carry out court-approved tracking will be “an essential feature” of a U.S.-issued digital dollar, a clear and strictly enforced privacy regime would give the U.S. a big advantage over a Chinese CBDC, Rep. Bill Foster (D - Ill.) said in a June hearing, according to Roll Call
“You don’t want a situation where any policeman could get on his console and look at any payments made by any person in the United States, including his ex-girlfriend,” he said. “That’s something where I think the United States and the free democracies of the world will have a real advantage — that we have a transparent and fair court system that is not present in, for example, China or Russia.”