May 7, 2021
In this episode of The Van Wirdum Sjorsnado, hosts Aaron van Wirdum and Sjors Provoost discuss the emergence of Mara Pool, the American Bitcoin mining pool operated by Marathon Digital Holdings, which claims to be fully compliance with US regulations. More generally, Aaron and Sjors discuss the prospects of mining censorship, what that would mean for Bitcoin, and what can be done about it.
Mara Pool claims to be fully compliant with US regulations, which means it applies anti-money laundering (AML) checks and ad hers to the sanction list of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). While details have not been made explicit, this presumably means that this pool will not include transactions in their blocks if these transactions send coin to or from Bitcoin addresses that have been included on an OFAC blacklist.
Aaron and Sjors discuss what it means that a mining pool is now censoring certain transactions, and they go on to expand what it could look like if this practice gets adopted more widely. They consider what censoring mining pools could accomplish if they ever get close to controlling a majority of hash power, and what Bitcoin users could potentially do in such a scenario (if anything).