Bill Maurer

Bill Maurer, an anthropology [and law] professor at the University of California, Irvine, notes that cash offers considerable benefits over digital in terms of privacy: an increasingly rare commodity in today’s world. "When I hand you a $20 bill, there is no data captured by anybody from that transaction… It’s a relatively anonymous, private thing, whereas all digital forms of payment generate data trails," he says. In the best cases, data trails created by digital payments can be used for targeted marketing, and monetised via sales to third parties. They also leave personal data vulnerable to data leaks and cyberattacks. In worst-case scenarios, Maurer says "governments could use digital trails to surveil a population and prevent them from using mobile or digital services if they disapprove of their financial activity."

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