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  1. I open Bitcoin Core and generate a new receive address.
  2. I publish this without mentioning my name, and make every effort to conceal my identity in every other way.
  3. Some time passes (possibly months or years).
  4. Some entity has figured out that I'm the owner of that "receive address".

How did that happen?

Can the Bitcoin network see which IP address is "receiving" money to a given receive address? Is there anything that leaks my IP address or any other identifiable information when creating, publishing or receiving money to a receive address?

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Identity leaks usually happen in two places.

Off Chain Leaks

Here, the address is somehow linked to you off chain - this could be because you shared it from an account or network that can be traced to you (it's largely impossible to avoid being tagged online if a well funded and skilled group, such as nation states, is targeting you).

Alternatively, if you have sent funds to an address from an exchange or other wallet that has some link to your identity, off chain requests by law enforcement or other such authorities for your transaction data could link you to it quite trivially.

On Chain Leaks

Although modern wallets, especially Bitcoin Core, take steps to avoid this, there are scenarios where when spending funds from one address, you also include inputs sent to other addresses. If all your addresses do not have an equal level of privacy in how you shared them and received funds to them, transactions which spend from multiple addresses can create links that on chain monitoring tools use to identify clusters of addresses controlled by a single entity.

Thereafter, if any one address in the cluster is deanonymized, the entire cluster can be tagged to you retroactively.

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