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hannah

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Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #1 
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/05/Bitcoin-FBI.pdf

click the link above to see the FBI report


http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/05/fbi-fears-bitcoin/

FBI Fears Bitcoin’s Popularity with Criminals

A 3-D model of a bitcoin - not an actual bitcoin, which is purely digital. Photo: Trader Tim/Flickr

 

The FBI sees the anonymous Bitcoin payment network as an alarming haven for money laundering and other criminal activity — including as a tool for hackers to rip off fellow Bitcoin users.

That’s according to a new FBI internal report that leaked to the internet this week, which expresses concern about the difficulty of tracking the identify of anonymous Bitcoin users, while also unintentionally providing tips for Bitcoin users to remain more anonymous.

The report titled “Bitcoin Virtual Currency: Unique Features Present Distinct Challenges for Deterring Illicit Activity,” (.pdf) was published April 24 and is marked For Official Use Only (not actually classified), but was leaked to the internet on Wednesday.

In the document, the FBI notes that because Bitcoin combines cryptography and a peer-to-peer architecture to avoid a central authority, contrary to how digital currencies such as eGold and WebMoney operated, law enforcement agencies have more difficulty identifying suspicious users and obtaining transaction records.

Though the Bureau expresses confidence that authorities can still snag some suspects who use third-party Bitcoin services that require customers to submit valid identification or banking information in order to convert their bitcoins into real-world currencies, it notes that using offshore services that don’t require valid IDs can thwart tracking by law enforcement.

Bitcoin is an online currency that allows buyers and sellers to exchange money anonymously. To “cash out,” the recipient has to convert the digital cash into U.S. dollars, British pounds or another established currency. Bitcoin is used as a legitimate form of payment by numerous online retailers selling traditional consumer goods, such as clothing and music. But it’s also used by underground sites, such as Silk Road, for the sale of illegal narcotics.

To generate bitcoins, users have to download and install a free Bitcoin software client to their computers. The software generates Bitcoin addresses or accounts — a unique 36-character string of numbers and letters — to receive Bitcoin payments. The currency is stored on the user’s computer in a virtual “wallet.” Users can create as many addresses or accounts that they want.

To send bitcoins, the sender enters the recipient’s address as well as the number of bitcoins she wants to transfer to the address. The sender’s computer digitally signs the transaction and sends the information to the peer-to-peer Bitcoin network, which validates the transaction in a matter of minutes and releases the coins for the receiver to spend or convert.

The conversion value fluctuates with supply and demand  and the trust in the currency. As of last month, there were more than 8.8 million bitcoins in circulation, according to Bitcoin, with a value of about $4 and $5 per bitcoin. The FBI estimates in its report that the Bitcoin economy was worth between $35 million and $44 million.

It’s easy to see the attraction for criminals.

“If Bitcoin stabilizes and grows in popularity, it will become an increasingly useful tool for various illegal activities beyond the cyber realm,” the FBI writes in the report. “For instance, child pornography and Internet gambling are illegal activities already taking place on the Internet which require simple payment transfers. Bitcoin might logically attract money launderers, human traffickers, terrorists, and other criminals who avoid traditional financial systems by using the Internet to conduct global monetary transfers.”

Bitcoin transactions are published online, but the only information that identifies a Bitcoin user is a Bitcoin address, making the transaction anonymous. Or at least somewhat anonymous. As the FBI points out in its report, the anonymity depends on the actions of the user.

Since the IP address of the user is published online with bitcoin transactions, a user who doesn’t use a proxy to anonymize his or her IP address is at risk of being identified by authorities who are able to trace the address to a physical location or specific user.

And a report published by researchers in Ireland last year showed how, by analyzing publicly available Bitcoin information, such as transaction records and user postings of public-private keys, and combining that with less public information that might be available to law enforcement agencies, such as bank account information or shipping addresses, the real identity of users might be ascertained.

But the FBI helpfully lists several ways that Bitcoin users can protect their anonymity.

  • Create and use a new Bitcoin address for each incoming payment.
  • Route all Bitcoin traffic through an anonymizer.
  • Combine the balance of old Bitcoin addresses into a new address to make new payments.
  • Use a specialized money-laundering service.
  • Use a third-party eWallet service to consolidate addresses. Some third-party services offer the option of creating an eWallet that allows users to consolidate many bitcoin address and store and easily access their bitcoins from any device.
  • Individuals can create Bitcoin clients to seamlessly increase anonymity (such as allowing users to choose which Bitcoin addresses to make payments from), making it easier for non-technically savvy users to anonymize their Bitcoin transactions.

But the bigger risk for crooks and others who use bitcoin might not come from law enforcement identifying them, but from hackers who are out to rob their virtual Bitcoin wallets dry.

There have been several cases of hackers using malware to steal the currency in the virtual wallet stored on a user’s machine.

Last year, computer security researchers discovered malware called “Infostealer.Coinbit” that was designed specifically to steal bitcoins from virtual Bitcoin wallets and transfer them to a server in Poland.

One Bitcoin user complained in a Bitcoin forum that 25,000 bitcoins had been stolen from an unencrypted Bitcoin wallet on his computer. Since the exchange rate for bitcoins at the time was about $20 per bitcoin, the value of his loss at the time was about $500,000. A popular web hosting company called Linode was also infiltrated by an attacker looking to pilfer bitcoins.

And there have also been cases of hackers attempting to use “botnets” to generate bitcoins on compromised machines.

According to the FBI, quoting an anonymous “reliable source,” last May someone compromised a cluster of machines at an unidentified Midwestern university in an attempt to manufacture bitcoins. The report doesn’t provide any additional details about the incident.


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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #2 

 

Traveling the Silk Road: A measurement analysis of a large ...

31 Jul 2012 ... arXiv:1207.7139v1 [cs.CY] 31 Jul 2012 ... A measurement analysis of a large anonymous online ... Carnegie Mellon INI/CyLab nicolasc@cmu.edu ... First version: May 4, 2012. ... of the marketplace for nearly six months in 2012. ... being sold on Silk Road, and of the revenues made both

http://www.arxiv.org/pdf/1207.7139


Academic study of illicit uses


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USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

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Reply with quote  #3 

Bitcoin News: Summary - Bitcoin Ends July Up 39%, YTD 2012 Now ...

 
http://www.bitcoinnews.com/post/28474165880/july-2012-resultsCached
Aug 1, 2012 – Summary - Bitcoin Ends July Up 39%, YTD 2012 Now Up 98% http://www. bitcoinmoney.com/post/28473024447 Bitcoin Money blog

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USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

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Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #4 

WikiLeaks Bypasses Financial Blockade With Bitcoin

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People shouldn’t fear their government; government should fear its people. Publishers and journalists will not be intimidated nor silenced. Now entering day 626 of the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London awaiting safe passage.

Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.

WikiLeaks Reopens Channel For Credit Card Donations, Dares Visa And MasterCard To Block Them Again
Top 10 Bitcoin Statistics

Also announced last month, WikiLeaks appears to have found another way around the VISA and Mastercard blockade by using the French national credit card system, Carte Bleue, to process these payments (at least temporarily).

According to WikiLeaks, VISA and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system and the French non-profit FDNN (Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality- Fonds de Défense de la Net Neutralité has set up a Carte Bleue fund for WikiLeaks.

Time Magazine declares that WikiLeaks “could be as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.”

It used to be that people had secrets and the government was transparent; now it’s the people that lack privacy and the government has secrets. Freedom of payments is an extension of financial privacy and digital cash-like transactions without financial intermediaries become a critical piece of that foundation. Money was never intended to act as a form of identity tracking or payments restriction and this is why the option for anonymous and untraceable transactions is so vital as society moves to a world of digital currency.

“It is the privatization of censorship, because this is being done because of extreme pressure by the U.S. Government,” says Kristinn Hrafnsson, spokesman for WikiLeaks. “It’s extremely important to fight back and stop this process right here and now so that we won’t see in the future, ….where we have the financial giants deciding who lives and who dies in this field.”

To those that don’t support freedom of payments, consider this financial blockade invoked in the name of political correctness before you dismiss the inherent value of a nonpolitical unit of account and of a decentralized medium of exchange. It should be offensive to most free-minded people that you are not the final arbiter of how and where you spend your money. Bitcoin restores the balance.

Follow author on Twitter.




http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/08/20/wikileaks-bypasses-financial-blockade-with-bitcoin/
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=101991.0

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https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

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Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #5 

normally i dont get into the whole wikileaks/Asange drama, but i found this interesting:



WikiLeaks and Free Speech

 
 

WE have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government. We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador’s decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Ecuador has acted in accordance with important principles of international human rights. Indeed, nothing could demonstrate the appropriateness of Ecuador’s action more than the British government’s threat to violate a sacrosanct principle of diplomatic relations and invade the embassy to arrest Mr. Assange.

Since WikiLeaks’ founding, it has revealed the “Collateral Murder” footage that shows the seemingly indiscriminate killing of Baghdad civilians by a United States Apache attack helicopter; further fine-grained detail about the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; United States collusion with Yemen’s dictatorship to conceal our responsibility for bombing strikes there; the Obama administration’s pressure on other nations not to prosecute Bush-era officials for torture; and much more.

Predictably, the response from those who would prefer that Americans remain in the dark has been ferocious. Top elected leaders from both parties have called Mr. Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” And Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has demanded that he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Most Americans, Britons and Swedes are unaware that Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime. Rather, it has issued a warrant for his arrest to question him about allegations of sexual assault in 2010.

All such allegations must be thoroughly investigated before Mr. Assange moves to a country that might put him beyond the reach of the Swedish justice system. But it is the British and Swedish governments that stand in the way of an investigation, not Mr. Assange.

Swedish authorities have traveled to other countries to conduct interrogations when needed, and the WikiLeaks founder has made clear his willingness to be questioned in London. Moreover, the Ecuadorean government made a direct offer to Sweden to allow Mr. Assange to be interviewed within Ecuador’s embassy. In both instances, Sweden refused.

Mr. Assange has also committed to traveling to Sweden immediately if the Swedish government pledges that it will not extradite him to the United States. Swedish officials have shown no interest in exploring this proposal, and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt recently told a legal adviser to Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks unequivocally that Sweden would not make such a pledge. The British government would also have the right under the relevant treaty to prevent Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States from Sweden, and has also refused to pledge that it would use this power. Ecuador’s attempts to facilitate that arrangement with both governments were rejected.

Taken together, the British and Swedish governments’ actions suggest to us that their real agenda is to get Mr. Assange to Sweden. Because of treaty and other considerations, he probably could be more easily extradited from there to the United States to face charges. Mr. Assange has every reason to fear such an outcome.The Justice Department recently confirmed that it was continuing to investigate WikiLeaks, and just-disclosed Australian government documents from this past February state that “the U.S. investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr. Assange has been ongoing for more than a year.” WikiLeaks itself has published e-mails from Stratfor, a private intelligence corporation, which state that a grand jury has already returned a sealed indictment of Mr. Assange. And history indicates Sweden would buckle to any pressure from the United States to hand over Mr. Assange. In 2001 the Swedish government delivered two Egyptians seeking asylum to the C.I.A., which rendered them to the Mubarak regime, which tortured them.

If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not.

We urge the people of Britain and Sweden to demand that their governments answer some basic questions: Why do the Swedish authorities refuse to question Mr. Assange in London? And why can neither government promise that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to the United States? The citizens of Britain and Sweden have a rare opportunity to make a stand for free speech on behalf of the entire globe.

Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are Academy Award-winning filmmakers.


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USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #6 
http://it.slashdot.org/story/12/09/06/044233/secret-service-investigating-romney-tax-hack-claim

so someone broke into the accountant office and stole mitt romney's tax returns.    they ask for 1 million bit coins,

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http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #7 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/09/12/key-disclosure-laws-can-be-used-to-confiscate-bitcoin-assets/
Tech
|
9/12/2012 @ 9:50AM |2,874 views

Key Disclosure Laws Can Be Used To Confiscate Bitcoin Assets


 

Gaol time at the Justice and Police MuseumJail time for refusing to comply with mandatory key disclosure hasn’t occurred in the United States yet. But, it’s already happening in jurisdictions such as the UK, where a 33-year-old man was incarcerated for refusing to turn over his decryption keys and a youth was jailed for not disclosing a 50-character encryption password to authorities.

Similarly harsh, key disclosure laws also exist in Australia and South Africa which compel individuals to surrender cryptographic keys to law enforcement without regard for the usual common law protection against self-incrimination.

Key disclosure laws may become the most important government tool in asset seizures and the war on money laundering. When charged with a criminal offense, that refers to the ability of the government to demand that you surrender your private encryption keys that decrypt your data. If your data is currency such as access control to various amounts of bitcoin on the block chain, then you have surrendered your financial transaction history and potentially the value itself.

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These laws will impact not only money laundering prosecution but almost any asset protection strategy that attempts to maintain an element of financial privacy such as private banking or family trusts. Prior to all these money laundering laws being enacted, I once heard it said that the practice of moving money around was simply referred to as banking.

Doug Casey famously said that “it’s a completely artificial crime. It wasn’t even heard of 20 years ago, because the ‘crime’ didn’t exist.” Furthermore he said, “The War on Drugs may be where ‘money laundering’ originated as a crime, but today it has a lot more to do with something infinitely more important to the state: the War on Tax Evasion.” And, if they can’t track it from the outside via the banks and financial institutions, they’ll track it from the inside via access to an individual’s passwords and private keys.

In the United States, relevant case law has revolved around the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination as there is currently no specific law regarding key disclosure. The definition of a password is alarmingly broad too — all the way from an extension of your personal memory to an illegitimate tool that only hides something tangible from law enforcement.

The first case to address directly the question of whether a person can be compelled to reveal his or her encryption keys or password was In re Grand Jury Subpoena to Sebastien Boucher in 2009. Here a magistrate judge ruled that producing the passphrase for the encrypted hard drive would constitute self-incrimination, but on appeal the District Court overturned that decision, holding that decrypting and producing the complete contents would not constitute self-incrimination since Boucher initially cooperated in showing some of the computer files to border agents.

Next, there was the federal criminal case of United States v. Fricosu in 2010 in which the Federal District Court ordered a criminal defendant to decrypt the contents of an encrypted laptop. Although the defendant claimed Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus curiae brief, the Court sided with the government in ruling that since defendant admitted to ownership of the laptop and knowledge of the passwords in a recorded conversation, the existence of evidence was a “forgone conclusion” and therefore Fifth Amendment privilege could not be implicated. In early 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal and let that decision stand.

In a blog post, Orin Kerr cited In re Weiss (703 F. 2d 653) in summarizing testimonial obduracy and what a future Court’s likely posture would be if defendant refuses to comply with a key disclosure order or claims to have forgotten the password. On the specific Fifth Amendment issue in United States v. Fricosu, Kerr states:

If I’m reading Fricosu correctly, the Court is not saying that there is no Fifth Amendment privilege against being forced to divulge a password. Rather, the Court is saying that the Fifth Amendment privilege can’t be asserted in a specific case where it is known based on the facts of the case that the computer belongs to the suspect and the suspect knows the password. Because the only incriminating message of being forced to decrypt the password — that the suspect has control over the computer — is already known, it is a “foregone conclusion” and the Fifth Amendment privilege cannot block the government’s application.

In another case upholding the constitutional right against forced decryption, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Doe on February 24th, 2012 overturned a contempt of court ruling for refusing to decrypt. Arguing that without any specific knowledge of a hard drive’s file contents or file existence, the government cannot assert that certain items can be described with “reasonable particularity” and therefore compelling a defendant to produce those files would violate the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which again filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, called it a major victory for constitutional rights in the digital age.

To say the cryptocurrency bitcoin is disruptive would be an understatement. Bitcoin not only disrupts payments and monetary sovereignty, it also disrupts the legal enforcement of anti-money laundering laws, asset seizure, and capital controls. It is very likely that a key disclosure case will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court where it is far from certain that the Fifth Amendment privilege, as it relates to a refusal to decrypt bitcoin assets, will be universally upheld.

Many observers have suggested defensive techniques that deploy TrueCrypt disk encryption with hidden volume partitions or PGP Whole Disk Encryption rendering the entire computer unbootable thereby making even file time and date stamps unavailable. Another legal strategy to complicate matters could be to split the passphrase with another person and claim that you are never in possession of the entire real passphrase. Then, at least there would be “plausible deniability” as to who provided the invalid portion of the passphrase or you would have a cellmate if held in contempt.

Follow author on Twitter.


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How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
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Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #8 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/10/04/bitcoin-prevents-monetary-tyranny/

04/2012 @ 11:58AM |1 115 views

Bitcoin Prevents Monetary Tyranny


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USE the net more securely:
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https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #9 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/09/06/blackmail-and-a-briefcase-of-bitcoin/

|
9/06/2012 @ 9:00AM |4,188 views

Blackmail And A Briefcase Of Bitcoin

Dr. EvilThe anti-cashists are right about one thing. A briefcase full of paper cash is a dirty, inefficient way to move money around.

Upon hearing the news that a hacker had seized presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s prior year tax returns and was asking for $1,000,000 to destroy them, you could be excused for thinking that you had stumbled into a Dr. Evil film. But, this blackmailer was demanding payment to be made in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, not dollars. A bitcoin receiving address was provided so that the public could monitor the progress.

But, is blackmail really an illegitimate act? In the fictitious case of Dr. Evil’s demands, he was threatening a violent crime as a consequence. With the Romney tax hacker, the consequence of merely revealing the truth is not a crime. If the alleged hacker(s) acted alone to break in and obtain the information from PricewaterhouseCoopers, rather than discovering the information, that break-in would of course be considered a criminal act. However, the act of blackmail itself is a separate issue.

Professor Walter Block of Loyola University New Orleans reflects on the old axiom that “the truth shall make you free” and says that a blackmailer is simply setting the truth free to do whatever good or bad it is capable of doing. In his book Defending the Undefendable, Block suggests:

We will find, however, that the case against the blackmailer cannot stand serious analysis; that it is based upon a tissue of unexamined shibboleths and deep philosophical misunderstandings.

What, exactly, is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailee pays the agreed-upon price. If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.

Professor Block also posits some good effects of blackmail, such as diminishing real crime (robbery, murder, rape) because it increases the penalty associated with crime if a criminal has to share the loot or pay up to avoid the reporting of an ‘anonymous’ tip. The legalization of blackmail could also have a beneficial effect on non-aggressive actions that are generally at odds with societal mores such as sadomasochism and adultery, according to Block.

Vitalik Buterin of Bitcoin Magazine extends that thinking to the potential beneficial effects on governments and the corporate world:

Although the tools of communication and financial privacy are granting the small thieves an unprecedented ability to carry out their business with impunity, the large thieves that have so far been able to hide in the bureaucratic shadows of governments and large corporations are finding themselves more and more thrown into the limelight. This is the world we are moving towards: one that is perhaps more anarchic, and in some respects more dangerous, but one that is at the same time more just.

It is not yet known whether the threat to disclose tax return information is a real threat, but I suppose we will all know on the expiration date of September 28th. For its part, PricewaterhouseCoopers stated “we are working closely with the United States Secret Service, and at this time there is no evidence that our systems have been compromised or that there was any unauthorized access to the data in question.”

Transactional privacy in the digital age is a double-edged sword. It has the potential to liberate individuals from many aspects of political tyranny but it also creates new challenges as the physical cash drop-off point is no longer a deterrent to getting caught. Regulating a bitcoin is like regulating an air guitar. The only thing we know for certain is that it’s not going away.


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Oct. 9 2012 — 3:01 pm | 2,222 views | 5 comments

As Inflation Rages In Iran, Bitcoin Software Not Available

Hyperinflation has hit Iran hard. The government has stepped up censorship of currency exchange websites such as Mesghal.com and Mazanex.com, which had rates blanked out for the rial’s value against other nations’ currencies on Tuesday. Several major foreign airlines announced that they were discontinuing service into Tehran due to the volatility of the Iranian rial and shipping giant Maersk halted all port calls to Iran.

If severe currency devaluation and disruptive Internet cyber-attacks were not enough, the regular people of Iran have had access blocked to certain open source software sites for downloading applications such as Bitcoin. The 20-month-old blockade hasn’t been instigated by Iran’s mullahs but by the U.S.-led embargo which prohibits certain persons from receiving services via open source hosting sites.

The original and official Bitcoin client is hosted in the United States on GeekNet’s SourceForge.net who explained their denial of site access policy on their blog:

The specific list of sanctions that affect our users concern the transfer and export of certain technology to foreign persons and governments on the sanctions list. This means users residing in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria, may not post content to, or access content available through, SourceForge.net. Last week, SourceForge.net began automatic blocking of certain IP addresses to enforce those conditions of use.

Then, after an angry reaction from project administrators and developers, SourceForge removed the blanket blocking and modified their policy to put the power of determining a block trigger in the hands of each project’s leadership, as announced in their February 2010 blog posting:

Beginning now, every project admin can click on Develop -> Project Admin -> Project Settings to find a new section called Export Control. By default, we’ve ticked the more restrictive setting. If you conclude that your project is *not* subject to export regulations, or any other related prohibitions, you may now tick the other check mark and click Update. After that, all users will be able to download your project files as they did before last month’s change.

Therefore, the export control determination has to be made by the project’s registered administrator on SourceForge, which for Bitcoin is lead developer Gavin Andresen after assuming the role from Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.

Export of software from the U.S., including software that deploys encryption functions, is controlled by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in accordance with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

Andresen, who is also Chief Scientist for Bitcoin Foundation, stated that Bitcoin compiles against the full OpenSSL library and the wallet encryption feature uses AES-256 which is what places Bitcoin in the above category. The SourceForge option that Bitcoin.org selects to remain in compliance with U.S. law states, “This project incorporates, accesses, calls upon or otherwise uses encryption software with a symmetric key length greater than 64 bits (“encryption&rdquo. This review does not include products that use encryption for authentication only.”

Forget about the mere difficulties of obtaining and trading bitcoin for national fiat currency in Iran — without the client software, they are not even there yet. Other Bitcoin “experts” have alluded to alternative methods of downloading the Bitcoin client such as using non-U.S. independent mirrored sites, Virtual Private Network (VPN) for IP address masking, Tor if your country has an exit node, or BitTorrent file sharing.

Aside from the inherent weaknesses within the entire SSL infrastructure, other download channels, and even SourceForge itself, present challenges. The initial install code would need to be verified for authenticity and the only way to accomplish that is to have the core developer sign the code personally or have a neutral third-party like the Bitcoin Foundation sign downloadable code with their certificate as a registered developer.

In extreme circumstances the verified source code can be compiled directly by the user so that downloading binaries is not necessary. Source code can also be distributed in text-based form like a PDF or scanable book which is what MIT did for Phil Zimmermann and later what 70 international volunteers did for the PGPi Scanning Project in 1997. More and more, the Bitcoin Project is starting to look like the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) secure email program with each passing day.

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #11 

Tenn. techie denies being hacker in Romney tax returns case

Josh Adams, The (Nashville) Tennessean
4 Comment

Michael Brown of Franklin, Tenn., says he cannot explain why the Secret Service is targeting him in the alleged hacking of Mitt Romney's tax returns, but he says he is innocent.

(Photo: The (Nashville) Tennessean)

Story Highlights

  • Michael Brown says he is not the hacker who claimed to access Mitt Romney's tax returns
  • This is the second time Brown has been investigated in a computer hacking case
  • Two months after a raid of his home, Brown has not been charged with a crime

7:27AM EST November 12. 2012 - FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Michael Brown, a self-employed "computer guy," said he read the reports in early September of an anonymous computer hacker claiming to have copies of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns.

His knowledge of computers, Brown said, made him curious how such a stunt may have been managed.

A couple of weeks later, the Secret Service, acting on a search warrant, smashed through his front door and spent the next 18 hours pulling laptops, hard drives and all manner of digital storage devices from his Franklin home.

Now, almost two months since his home was searched, Brown has not been charged with a crime.

Brown, who offers a wireless Internet service, is a target of an investigation into an apparent attempt to to extort money by claiming to have the former GOP nominee's tax returns. The purported heist was announced in a letter posted online that solicited $1 million either to release the information or to keep it from the public. That same letter, along with supposedly encrypted flash drives containing the tax returns, was delivered to county Democratic and Republican offices in Williamson County.

The Secret Service isn't saying whether someone actually downloaded Romney's tax filings, but Brown is now going public with his denial of having any role in the plot. He even created a website, mbdonationfund.com, drawing attention to the case.

"If there was anything they could use," Brown said of the items seized from his home, "I wouldn't be here."

David Boling, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nashville, said he could not comment on whether charges are expected. The federal judge who granted the search warrant for Brown's home ordered the documents sealed, but Brown posted them online.

"We've taken the unusual step of confirming an investigation by the Secret Service," Boling said. "The matter is under investigation, so there's nothing really we could say."

Computer clues

Though investigators won't talk about the case, the search warrant offers a glimpse into how they might connect Brown to the caper.

Craig Ball, an attorney and certified computer forensic examiner in Austin, Texas, noted that authorities can use the serial numbers from the two flash drives left at the political offices in Williamson County. The drives themselves won't likely reveal much, but computers keep a log of all the external storage devices ever plugged into them. That means, Ball said, that investigators are looking for a record of those flash drives having been used on the machines confiscated from Brown's home.

The search warrant also lists several IP addresses that could be used to identify which machines posted the apparent extortion letter onto the website, Pastebin.com. Similarly, authorities are looking for connections to a digital currency site, Bitcoin, through which the money was to be paid.

Several years ago Brown paid $5,000 to acquire about 371,000 bitcoins and, according to a 2011 article in Wired magazine, was the "richest man in in the bitcoin realm."

Brown acknowledged the circumstantial connection but said that, after the value of bitcoins tanked, he created another form of digital currency to compete with bitcoin. Why would he demand payment in a digital currency that competes with his own? Brown countered.

A quick perusal of the search warrant led Ball to conclude that investigators have leads in the case, though it is not clear what led them to Brown.

"Short of an abacus and a stone tablet, there's nothing they can't take from this person's home," Ball said. "They're not fishing."

Brown said he could not explain why the Secret Service is targeting him, but he noted that in 2009 the same agency came to his house looking for evidence tying him to the alleged theft of thousands of Social Security numbers held by an insurance company. He was never charged, and Brown said he met with federal agents four times to answer questions; he even agreed to a polygraph, he said.

"I'm pretty sure I'm profiled as a computer guy, and not just a layman at Best Buy," Brown said.

Critical of agents

Brown, a husband and father, said he isn't too worried about antagonizing federal authorities in talking about the case. That said, he has a few pointed criticisms of the agents who searched his home.

Authorities missed at least four flash drives that were sitting on a desk in his office, he said, and left behind some forensic software they were using to examine his machines. Brown said he's familiar with the brand and was surprised at the simplicity of the program, describing it as "'forensics for dummies' kind of software."

The agents also were clumsy in their removal of his equipment, Brown said.

"They left me with the impression of a bunch of apes with screwdrivers punching away at stuff."

Another element of this case is that the author of the letter claims to have visited the Franklin office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that handles Romney's taxes, and hacked into the company's network. PricewaterhouseCoopers has repeatedly denied that any such thing occurred.

"At this point there's nothing to suggest our systems were tampered with," Chris Atkins, a spokesman for the company in New York City, said last week.

Ball, the forensics examiner in Texas, said that, in his experience, the claim of having been to the accounting firm's office could make it easier for investigators to confirm various facts of the case. Setting aside any video surveillance of the property, the firm's computer network probably monitors user logins and could show when files were accessed.

"It's probably premature to treat this guy as anything but a hapless innocent," Ball said of the raid on Brown's home. "The Secret Service also deserves the benefit of the doubt that they haven't tried to pin this on somebody."


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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #12 

What’s Your Bitcoin Strategy? WordPress Now Accepts Bitcoin Across The Planet

Best CEO Toni Schneider in 2007 (Photo credit: Lisa Brewster)

I awoke to incredible news this morning. Leading web publishing service WordPress.com announced that they will begin accepting the nonpolitical cryptographic money Bitcoin as a payment method for various upgrades.

Then I remembered that WordPress.org powers our online publishing platform. It also powers the blog platform for The New York Times, CNN, Reuters, Mashable, NBC Sports, GigaOm, TechCrunch, ELLE Girl, RealClearPolitics, TED, National Football League, General Motors, UPS, eBay, Sony, and Volkswagen.

Not only does this strategic move bring new unserved customers into the WordPress fold, it paves the way for the online publishing platform run by parent company Automattic not to be restricted by the choices of its payment partners. Companies doing business and accepting payments globally are subject to increasing fees and sometimes arbitrary chargebacks which no doubt impact their bottom line. WordPress would probably not even mind if a large chunk of their mainstream payment processing migrated to bitcoin.

Over 57.8 million WordPress sites are written in 120 different languages creating nearly 32 million new user posts each month.

Criticizing the centralized bankcard associations and citing payment method deficiencies, WordPress spokesperson Andy Skelton said, “Unlike credit cards and PayPal, Bitcoin has no central authority and no way to lock entire countries out of the network. Merchants who accept Bitcoin payments can do business with anyone.” And thus the planet becomes immediately open to their products and services.

“PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions,” continued Skelton. “Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control.” [Note: WordPress.com updated their original blog post which mentioned Cuba and Iraq.]

Vitalik Buterin of Bitcoin Magazine brings up an equally significant reason for accepting payment in Bitcoin, “Another argument which WordPress did not mention is anonymity. Many bloggers that operate in restrictive regimes do so using pseudonyms for their own protection, and traditional payment methods like credit cards and PayPal are unusable for those bloggers because they expose the payer’s physical identity.” With user-defined anonymity and identity privacy, bitcoin offers unparalleled safety to dissident bloggers and free speech advocates.

Initially, processing will be managed by payment service provider BitPay, Inc. of Orlando, Florida. BitPay shields WordPress from having to handle actual payments by immediately converting and transferring sales proceeds into a WordPress merchant bank account. This minimizes the currency risk for the accepting merchant. An important configurable option also allows the merchant to retain Bitcoin balances for their own account and subsequent usage.

Although WordPress states that they are not waiting for a sufficient number of confirmations from the bitcoin block chain, it is largely irrelevant for e-services since upgrades can simply be deactivated or reversed due to a failed payment.

WordPress may not stand as the lone giant for very long since Reddit CEO Yishan Wong hinted last week at the social news site’s willingness to begin transacting in Bitcoin for Reddit Gold subscriptions. Reddit is a subsidiary of Condé Nast’s parent company, Advance Publications.

As the bitcoin juggernaut continues to roll forward absorbing merchants and customers globally it leaves archaic and unsuspecting payment methods in its wake. As one bitcoin forum member articulated, merchants will increasingly be asked: “What’s your Bitcoin strategy?”

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #13 

Department Of Homeland Security To Scan Payment Cards At Borders And Airports

Typical wireless electronic card reader (Photo credit: USDA)

Travelers leaving or entering the United States have long had to declare aggregated cash and other monetary instruments exceeding $10,000. Now, under a proposed amendment to the Bank Secrecy Act, FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) will also require travelers to declare the value of prepaid cards that they are carrying, known now as “tangible prepaid access devices.”

Expected to be finalized by the end of this year, the cross-border reporting modifications stem from a broader October 2011 definition of payment methods and form factors that replaced the term “stored value” with the term “prepaid access” in an effort to more accurately describe the process of accessing funds held by a payment provider.

Enforceability falls to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection both within the Department of Homeland Security, which is already developing advanced handheld card readers that can ascertain whether a traveler is carrying a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card. This differentiation is important because only prepaid card balances will need to be added to declaration report forms.

Acknowledging that many questions still remain and that enforcement may not be straightforward, Cynthia Merritt, assistant director of the Retail Payments Risk Forum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, had this to say about the handheld readers:

Furthermore, according to the comments, the enforcement challenge is not new, nor is the concept of a device or document that can be used to access value. The current challenges are similar to those presented in the past with other monetary instruments such as checks, money orders, and traveler checks.

Merritt also stated that, “When law enforcement takes possession of a cash or monetary instrument at the border, they are effectively holding the funds, but not so with a prepaid card or other device. Holding the card does not provide access to the underlying funds.”

Other questions to be settled include how to determine mobile phone wallet and key fob balances that can function in a manner similar to card swiping, how to distinguish between reloadable and non-reloadable prepaid cards, how to distinguish between bank-issued and non-bank-issued prepaid cards, should closed loop gift cards be included in the cross-border reporting requirements, what to do about cards that clear customs with a minimal balance but are then subsequently reloaded with an amount in violation of the reportable limits, and what to do about a large number of nonpersonalized, unembossed cards.

Also, would a traveler have legal recourse for damages if agents seized a proper debit card in the mistaken belief that it was a reportable prepaid card?

These complications and others imply that FinCEN’s NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rule Making] may yet undergo some revisions in order to bring the regulations in sync with the realities of the prepaid card industry.

In the meantime, travelers with a memorized Bitcoin private key can breathe a sigh of relief, because according to an important April 9th, 2012 letter to FinCEN Director James Freis from Homeland Security Investigations it appears that intangible brainwallets are safe for the moment:

Should the border declaration apply to codes, passwords and other intangibles as well as to any tangible object that is dedicated to accessing prepaid funds?

HSI believes that border declaration should not apply to codes, passwords and other intangibles. Identification and verification of intangibles in the context of border enforcement poses logistical and potential legal issues that are not contemplated by currency and monetary instrument declaration regulations. The structure of the currency and monetary instruments declaration regime, hinges on the existence of a physical object. The language requires something that can be passed from one individual to another in order to be presented to a third party for execution/payment.

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Nov. 3 2012 — 11:04 am | 7,795 views | 9 comments

ECB: “Roots Of Bitcoin Can Be Found In The Austrian School Of Economics”

The ECB (European Central Bank) has produced the first official central bank study of the decentralized cryptographic money known as bitcoin, Virtual Currency Schemes. Ignoring for a moment the ECB’s condescending and derogatory use of the virtual currency phrase and scheme phrase, the study produced at least one landmark achievement.

In claiming that “The theoretical roots of Bitcoin can be found in the Austrian school of economics,” the ECB forever linked Bitcoin to the proud economic heritage of Menger, Mises, and Hayek as well as to Austrian business cycle theory. This recognition is also a direct testament to the monetary theory work of Friedrich von Hayek who inspired many with his 1976 landmark publication of Denationalisation of Money.

Bitcoin fully embodies the spirit of denationalized money as it seeks no authority for its continued existence and it recognizes no political borders for its circulation. Indeed according to the report, proponents see Bitcoin as “a good starting point to end the monopoly central banks have in the issuance of money” and “inspired by the former gold standard.”

Economists from the 19th and mid-20th centuries can be forgiven for not anticipating an interconnected digital realm like the Internet with its p2p distributed architecture, but modern economists cannot be. From their own conclusions (on page 48) which inaccurately lump Bitcoin together with Linden Dollars, here is what the modern-day economists at the ECB are still not getting:

1. ECB concludes that if money creation remains at a low level, bitcoin does not pose a risk to price stability. This is incorrect on two levels. One, the creation of new bitcoin is capped at 21 million with eight current decimal places so it grows through adoption and usage rather than monetary expansion. And two, as with gold, silver, and other commodities having a monetary component, price stability is a function of the market not central planners;

2. ECB concludes that bitcoin cannot jeopardize financial stability due to its low volume and limited connection with the real economy. Conversely, bitcoin will tend to increase financial stability and overall soundness. Bitcoin’s connection with the real economy is only a concern for the regulated and taxed economy, whereas bitcoin independently may thrive in the $10 trillion shadow or “original” economy. Besides, with its repeated market interventions, no one has done more to jeopardize financial stability than the ECB itself;

3. ECB concludes that bitcoin is currently not regulated and supervised by any public authority. It would be more accurate to say that State-sponsored regulation is largely irrelevant because of the inherent design properties of a peer-to-peer distributed computing system. But happily, this is still a conclusion that I can agree with and recommend that it remains the case;

4.  ECB concludes that bitcoin could represent a challenge for public authorities, given the legal uncertainty and potential for performing illegal activities. While public authorities will certainly be challenged by the introduction of a monetary unit that cannot be manipulated for political purposes, bitcoin in some cases does have the ability to provide tracking capability that far exceeds that of national cash or money substitutes. What authorities will find most troubling though, with bitcoin, is that money flows between individuals and businesses will no longer be exploitable for purposes of unlimited identity tracking and unconstitutional ‘fishing expeditions’;

5. ECB concludes that bitcoin “could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks, assuming the use of such systems grows considerably and in the event that an incident attracts press coverage, since the public may perceive the incident as being caused, in part, by a central bank not doing its job properly.” Pretentious as it may seem, the ECB is stating here that central banks as protector of the general public with respect to payments have a role to play because it is their reputation that suffers in the event of a bitcoin-related security incident. Firstly, that is an assumed responsibility — not a delegated responsibility; and reputational impact aside, I would prefer to rely on lex mercatoria;

6. ECB concludes that bitcoin does indeed fall within central banks’ responsibility as a result of characteristics shared with payment systems. Of course it does not. Central banks are a form of centralized economic planning so their stated responsibilities are suspect from the outset. Bitcoin represents an intangible math puzzle whose existence is solely restricted to transfer rights on a cloud-based public ledger. It more closely resembles an air guitar than a payment system for purposes of oversight.

Now, in affirming the superior attributes of bitcoin in the role of financial innovation, the ECB correctly identifies why the profligate issuers of national fiat currencies will ultimately feel threatened by such a decentralized nonpolitical unit. The report acknowledges the following with respect to bitcoin: (a) “higher degree of anonymity compared to other electronic payment instruments,” (b) “lower transaction costs compared with traditional payment systems, and (c) “more direct and faster clearing and settlement of transactions” from the absence of intermediaries.

Overall, the fear of the monetary overlords is palpable as the study concludes by basically promising continued scrutiny and oversight. Also forecast for the plebeians is a possible remedy to the global scope and unclear jurisdiction of the regulatory challenge:

“One possible way to overcome this situation and obtain some quantitative information on the magnitude of the funds moved through these virtual currency schemes could be to focus on the link between the virtual economy and the real economy, i.e. the transfer of money from the banking environment to the virtual environment. Virtual accounts need to be funded either via credit transfer, payment card or PayPal and therefore a possibility would be to request this information from credit institutions, card schemes and PayPal.”

However, Michael Parsons, a former executive with Emirates Bank (Dubai), Moscow Narodny Bank, and KPMG Moscow, believes that those efforts will prove futile and he explains, “Bitcoin is ‘regulated’ by its peers and mathematics. And Bitcoin is not a currency like fiat money. It is a value  transfer system which is given value only by its users. So the ECB, FED, etc. have no mandate to control a ‘virtual currency’ just because they call it (bitcoin) that! It will just go underground. Bitcoin is like Light and Air. Free to use and transfer. Owned and issued by the people and NOT the State!”

It evokes an image of central bankers huddled comfortably on the safe shoreline as they look out into the horizon and see the dangerous, unstable virtual currencies approaching. The opposite is actually the truth because it is the central bankers who are floating precipitously out at sea. As James Turk famously said about bitcoin’s analog cousin, “When standing in a boat and looking at the shore, it is the boat (currencies) – and not the land (gold) – that is bobbing up and down.”

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #14 
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-29/dollar-less-iranians-discover-virtual-currency

Photograph by Vahid Salemi/AP Photo

A money changer holds an Iranian banknote on Ferdowsi Street in Tehran

Sanctions

Dollar-Less Iranians Discover Virtual Currency

By on November 29, 2012

Under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies, dollars are hard to come by in Iran. The rial fell from 20,160 against the greenback on the street market in August to 36,500 rials to the dollar in October. It’s settled, for now, around 27,000. The central bank’s fixed official rate is 12,260. Yet there’s one currency in Iran that has kept its value and can be used to purchase goods from abroad: bitcoins, the online-only currency.

Created in 2009 by a mysterious programmer named Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoins behave a lot like any currency. Their value is determined by demand, and they can be used to buy stuff. Bitcoin transactions are encrypted and handled by a decentralized global network of tens of thousands of personal computers. Merchants around the world accept the currency, from a bakery in San Francisco to a dentist in Finland. Individuals who own bitcoins and wish to exchange them for physical currencies like euros or dollars can use exchange sites such as localbitcoins.com, a Finland-based site founded by Jeremias Kangas. “I believe that bitcoin is, or will be in the future, a very effective tool for individuals who want to avoid sanctions, currency restrictions, and high inflation in countries such as Iran,” Kangas wrote in an e-mail.

The advantage for Iranians is that bitcoins can be swapped for dollars that can then be kept outside the country. Another plus: Regulators can’t easily track the transactions, since bitcoins aren’t issued from a central server. Bitcoin users can conduct business on virtual private networks, which hide customers’ identities.

At online store coinDL.com, shoppers can use bitcoins to buy Beyond Matter, the latest album from Iranian artist Mohammad Rafigh. Anyone in the U.S. downloading songs, which fetch .039 bitcoins or 45¢ each, risks violating U.S. sanctions. That doesn’t bother Rafigh, who’s studying computer engineering as well as playing music. “Bitcoin is so interesting for me,” Rafigh wrote in an e-mail. “I wish the culture of using digital money spreads all over the world, because it does not have any dependency on anything like politics.” Rafigh has translated some bitcoin software into Farsi for his friends. “I love Iran, and if bitcoin is good for me, it can be good for more Iranians like me.”

Iranian-American bitcoin consultant Farzhad Hashemi recently traveled to Tehran and talked up bitcoin to his friends. “They are instantly fascinated by it,” he says. “It’s a flash for them when they realize how it can solve their problems.” Iranians working or living abroad can send bitcoins to their families, who can use one of the online currency matchmaking services to find someone willing to exchange bitcoins for euros, rials, or dollars. Bitcoins are useful to Iranians wishing to move their money abroad, either to children studying in Europe or America or simply to stash cash in a safe place.

As the value of the rial plunges, many Iranians are trying to acquire foreign currencies. “We have no idea what will happen,” says Amir-Hossein Madani, who says he’s traded tens of millions of street market dollars in Tehran over the past two years. “These days prices change every 10 minutes.”

The uncertainty has led some Iranian software developers to ask clients to pay them in bitcoins. “Anyone with a computer is able to own, send, and receive them. You can be at an Internet cafe in Iran and managing a bitcoin account,” says Jon Matonis, a founding board member of the Bitcoin Foundation, a Seattle nonprofit that promotes the currency. The exchange rate in Iran is 332,910 rials per bitcoin. It isn’t known how many Iranians use bitcoins to skirt sanctions. According to localbitcoins’ Kangas, 32 people in Iran have contacted each other through his site.

An internal FBI report in April expressed concern over the online currency. The report was leaked to Wired and Betabeat. “Since Bitcoin does not have a centralized authority, law enforcement faces difficulties detecting suspicious activity, identifying users, and obtaining transaction records—problems that might attract malicious actors to Bitcoin,” says the report. For now, Iranians are using bitcoins to maintain a fragile connection to the outside world.

The bottom line: Iranians are resorting to virtual currency to move money into and out of the country in a way that Western authorities find hard to detect.

With Ladane Nasseri, Yeganeh Salehi, and Peter S. Green
Raskin is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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Reply with quote  #15 

Bitcoin Foundation board member and Forbes contributor Jon Matonis (@JonMatonis) in a post on the Bitcoin Foundation’s forum gives reasons for individuals and organizations to support the Bitcoin Foundation (@BTCFoundation).  Excerpts:

“The Bitcoin Foundation is an educational and software research organization offering annual memberships and a standard donation program.”
-
“Some of the significant initiative areas where we are already having a measurable impact: 
 - Human Rights and Social Justice
 - Privacy
 - Sound Public Policy
 - Math and Science”

 - https://bitcoinfoundation.org/blog/?p=41
 - http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=126763.0 (Further discussion of this post)


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Reply with quote  #16 
0948.pdf              RATS: Guide to Protection Against Informants     November 30, 2012

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EU exchange Bitcoin Central to operate as a PSP

Paymium, operator of Bitcoin-Central exchange, will be operating that exchange following the regulations in the EU that apply to a Payment Services Provider (PSP). This was announced in a post on the BitcoinTalk forum by David Francois, Paymium’s CTO.

Bitcoin-Central, one of only a few Bitcoin exchanges that have been in business for more than two years, currently operates a BTC/EUR exchange market and their newer BTC/GBP market [update: Bitcoin-Central will be closing their BTC/GBP market and offering only BTC/EUR exchange]. Bitcoin-Central will not hold customer EUR balances, and instead the funds will be held by Credit Mutuel, a major French bank. This service is made possible through Paymium’s partnership with Aqoba, a French PSP.

There was no go-live date (as a PSP) given but the announcement referred to features this change will bring, such as each account being assigned an IBAN number, as arriving “in a few months”.

A reply in the forum thread for the announcement was a question regarding who would be eligible to hold an account. The response given by Mr. Francois was that there would be no limitations regarding the citizenship of clients though he did admit the company would be experiencing “a learning curve”. This assertion of universal coverage was met with skepticism as Americans are generally excluded from being able to obtain an account with a foreign financial institution due to the resulting reporting requirements doing so would entail, thanks to FATCA.

Neither Paymium’s partner Aquoba nor Credit Mutuel has provided additional information thus far however a press release from Aquoba is expected. Last week French newspaper Le Monde published an article on Bitcoin in which Paymium’s COO, Pierre Noizat, was interviewed no mention of this development was included.

Previous Posts - Twitter: @BitcoinMoney

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davout
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December 06, 2012, 04:08:53 PM
 #1

Lots of the work that we do is unseen.

At Paymium we spent lots of time and energy talking about Bitcoin to our regulating bodies, the Banque de France, the ACP (French equivalent of the American SEC), TRACFIN (AML French supervising body) etc. We engaged all these resources with one goal in mind : get these people to know Bitcoin, advocate our beloved crypto-currency and listen to them, help them think until they finally reach the same conclusion as we did : there's nothing wrong with people being free.

There's nothing wrong with people freely exchanging value, we don't hurt anybody, we're not forcing anyone to use Bitcoin, we simply want to see our dream and the future of money become a reality.

After all this patient work and lobbying we're finally happy and proud to announce that Bitcoin-Central.net becomes today the first Bitcoin exchange operating within the framework of European regulations. Since 2010 we kept learning, when mtgox got kicked out of France for not complying with the law we learnt from it, when our banks gave us a hard time we learnt from it, when we discussed with smart people on these very forums we learnt from it.

From monitoring the regulatory field we learned that TRACFIN knew about Bitcoin, that the ECB knew about Bitcoin. And that they were both worried.

So we felt that if no one went there, and told these people about Bitcoin, they would come to us anyway.

We're therefore extremely proud and happy to announce that Bitcoin-Central.net will be raising the bar for all the other exchanges, at least the ones operating in Europe.

We're announcing today that Bitcoin-Central.net is getting, through a partnership with Aqoba and the Credit Mutuel Arkéa, allowed to operate as a bank, (or more precisely a PSP which is basically the same as a bank, just without the debt-money issuing part).

Some people might argue that regulation is a bad thing. We respect this opinion, but we'll have to agree to disagree.

But this is not only some regulatory detail, it has dramatic implications for us, our users, and... our competition

Let's go over a couple of them:
  • Our user's funds will actually be held at the Credit Mutuel Arkéa under the user's name, they will be separate from Paymium's funds (on the other hand, all of other exchanges funds for example sit in the same account, and are considered by their bank to be their corporate property)
  • Our user's accounts will be protected by the "Garantie des dépôts" which is the French equivalent of the American FDIC (the insurance cap applies to each account individually, and not to the sum of all user balances, so unless your EUR balance exceeds 100kEUR your fiat is 100% insured by the French taxpayer)
  • Each account will in a few months get its very own IBAN number, users will be able to use it as any other bank account, have their salaries and pensions sent there and have them automatically converted to Bitcoin if they so wish)
  • Each user will soon be able to order its own debit card that will use their EUR and BTC balance to honor purchases and cash withdrawals
  • We'll have direct access to the banking networks which will let us 100% automate all incoming and outgoing transfers
  • Corporations will have an actual financial institution talking with them if they wish to start accepting Bitcoin and be safe from a regulatory point of view
  • Paymium will have a much better legal standing and a much higher attractivity for second and third-round investors
  • Paymium will be in a much better position to make its vision become true : make all our transactions, be they denominated in crypto or fiat currency, flow through the pipes of the Bitcoin network

BUT, that doesn't mean more hassle for our users, since we know exactly what is legally required we can already tell them that a simple ID will remain sufficient to fully verify an account.

It's a big day for me and Paymium, and it's a major milestone for this community.

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Tech
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12/09/2012 @ 9:13AM |2,445 views

Bitcoin's Greatness Not Realized By Succumbing To Regulation

Inaugural Issue of Bitcoin Magazine

Last Thursday’s news that French company Paymium and their exchange division, Bitcoin-Central, partnered with a licensed and regulated Payment Services Provider (PSP) ignited a heated debate within the bitcoin community. Eventually, Bitcoin-Central tempered their overly-enthusiastic initial announcement.

“It feels like these French dudes are bringing saltpeter to a rave,” declared Daniel Stuckey, a writer at Motherboard ridiculing the company for dismissing the founding concepts of bitcoin.

Not singling out the Paymium effort, there is a powerful undercurrent rejecting the notion that bitcoin exchange companies should seek approval to operate within the existing regulatory framework at all. That undercurrent has some validity. That is if larger forces at work don’t settle the issue before then. However, it is the jurisdictions that they elect to operate within plus the specific exchange types that determine the level of required compliance. Legal counsel willing to challenge the status quo is sorely needed for the days ahead.

Floating-rate, rather than fixed-rate, exchanges are going to require the holding of customer funds in national currencies. Exchanges for actual delivery, rather than cash-settled futures exchanges quoted only in bitcoin, will also require holding customer funds in national currencies. Customers with large balances simply aren’t going to use exchanges that don’t identify their legal jurisdiction, delineate funds, and adhere to some type of recourse for insolvency and stolen funds. So, certain jurisdictions and their financial regulators tend to get involved. This is also the case with Mt.Gox being based in Japan.

Here’s the real issue — regulation in this context is only a bad thing if it leads to crony capitalism or if it suggests that “still-in-beta cryptographic play money” bitcoin requires regulation similar to a national political currency.

While an individual’s bitcoin transactions may still be semi-private, the auditable address links on the block chain and identity requirements for entering or exiting the exchange will remove any doubt as to how much bitcoin was spent or earned. Also, the case can be made that, despite bitcoin’s basis in mathematics and being devoid of ideology, graph theory analysis of the block chain can be significantly improved by having more ‘regulated’ data points thus cumulatively degrading the privacy of all bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin address logs for a bitcoin exchange are like IP logs for a VPN.

Yes, debit cards with a bitcoin logo are cool and they can facilitate easy movement of funds associated with bitcoin balances. But legacy debit cards are institutionalized vehicles of identity and they promote half-way measures. Any role for current financial institutions in the societal wealth transfer to cryptocurrency will come from embracing bitcoin on its terms. If banks want to participate in a meaningful way, they will have to adapt to Tor exit nodes, coin mixing services, escrow provisioning without identity, and underwriting private insurance on balances.

Bitcoin’s great promise lies in its potential ability for both income and consumption anonymity. It is this feature alone that allows users to maintain the same financial privacy as physical cash today and it is this feature that will also lead to liberating advancements such as a thriving and interconnected System D, unhampered and undiluted freedom of speech, and superior asset management that can truly be said to be off-the-grid.

Those who support the antithetical overlay of  bitcoin on the current financial system ensure us that it will only be temporary and that we must build bridges. That would be nice but it’s a fairy tale. It reminds me of the Marxist theory of historical materialism and the Marx-Engels ideology that if we only tolerate the bourgeois state during the transitional advancement to a higher phase, we will see the complete “withering away of the state.”

True revolutionary transformations just don’t evolve that way. Linux didn’t first co-exist within the Microsoft DOS and Windows environment and then decide to spin-off into a competing operating system. File sharing under the BitTorrent protocol didn’t conduct a Hollywood outreach program and explain what the technology would mean for the film and recording studios.

One doesn’t request freedom, one claims freedom. As Bitcoin Forum member btcbug stated about bitcoin’s acquiescence to legality, “It’s kind of like a bunch of slaves breaking out and then running straight back because they were so brainwashed they didn’t even recognize freedom.” However, the sad reality is that most of the slaves don’t really want to be free which is exemplified by voting for ever-increasing State services that have to be funded through confiscatory levels of taxation and inevitably that means diminishing financial privacy.

Get real people! This is about more than just “agreeing to disagree” when it comes to stricter regulation being a good thing. Bitcoin without user-defined anonymous transactions is a neutered bitcoin. Paper cash comes with more financial privacy. In circular logic fashion, the pro-regulation adherents must then answer to their success, “what have we really accomplished?”

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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Reply with quote  #20 

12/23/2012 @ 12:01PM |1,659 views
Fear Not Deflation

We should not be afraid of deflation. We should love it as much as our liberties. –Jörg Guido Hülsmann

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/12/23/fear-not-deflation/

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Reply with quote  #21 
Now they REALLY don't like bit coin

Gee, i want a anti aircraft missile with that body armor. Thanks dear....



http://gizmodo.com/5927379/the-secret-online-weapons-store-thatll-sell-anyone-anything

The Secret Online Weapons Store That’ll Sell Anyone Anything
Sam Biddle

The Bushmaster M4 is a 3-foot rifle capable of firing thirty 5.56×45mm NATO rounds, and used by spec ops forces throughout Afghanistan. It's a serious weapon. But in the Internet's darkest black market, it's all yours. Who needs a background check? Nobody.

The Armory began as an offshoot of The Silk Road, notable as the Internet's foremost open drug bazaar, where anything from heroin and meth to Vicodin and pot can be picked out and purchased like a criminal Amazon.com. It's virtually impossible to trace, and entirely anonymous. But apparently guns were a little too hot for The Silk Road's admins, who broke the site off from the main narcotics carnival. Now guns, ammo, explosives, and more have their own shadowy home online, far from the piles of Dutch coke and American meth. But the same rules apply: with nothing more than money and a little online savoir faire, you can buy extremely powerful, deadly weapons—Glocks, Berettas, PPKs, AK-47s, Bushmaster rifles, even a grenade—in secret, shipped anywhere in the world.

7/19/12

click the link for the full story


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Reply with quote  #22 
Bit Coin worse is better
http://www.gwern.net/Bitcoin%20is%20Worse%20is%20Better


The silk Road

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_%28marketplace%29




The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable
http://gawker.com/5805928/the-underground-website-where-you-can-buy-any-drug-imaginable


Using Silk Road

http://www.gwern.net/Silk%20Road

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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Reply with quote  #23 
http://makingofaneconomist.blogspot.fr/2012/12/is-bitcoin-future-of-currency.html

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Is Bitcoin the Future of Currency?

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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http://dailyanarchist.com/2012/11/12/bitcoin-venture-capitalist-roger-vers-journey-to-anarchism/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20dailyanarchist/blog%20%28Daily%20Anarchist%29


Bitcoin Venture Capitalist Roger Ver’s Journey to Anarchism
November 12th, 2012 Submitted by Roger Ver

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http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/printable-guns-grey-matters-and-masked-hackers

Is Bitcoin the Future of Money, or Just the Future of Buying Internet Drugs?

By Jake Hanrahan 9.12

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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Reply with quote  #26 
Bit Coin is trading at an all time high this month. It was up to 77 dollars.(on 3/21/2013)


http://bitcoincharts.com/?page=2

Aljazeera - Bitcoin Rises, by Nicolas Mendoza
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/2013391325331795.html

Anatomy of a problem - Bitcoin loses 25% in value due to a long-missed bug (btc RECOVERED IN THE SAME DAY)
by Paul Ducklin on March 13, 2013 | 7 Comments        
http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/03/13/anatomy-of-a-problem-bitcoin-loses-25-percent-in-value/

Bitcoin: more than just the currency of digital vice | Technology ...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/04/bitcoin-currency-of-vice



3/08/2013 @ 12:30PM |17,840 views
First Bitcoin Hedge Fund Launches From Malta
Ever since the bitcoin cryptocurrency first launched and achieved initial success, institutional investors and hedge fund managers have secretly sought a regulated investment vehicle for bitcoin placements. Malta-based Exante Ltd. has the solution with their new Bitcoin Fund.

http://bitcoinfund.eu/joinus

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2013/03/08/first-bitcoin-hedge-fund-launches-from-malta/


Summary - Bitcoin Ends January Up 51%, Largest Monthly Increase Since 2011

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



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Reply with quote  #27 
http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/12/06/tor-deepnet-anonymity/

Tor and the Deepnet: What price does society pay for anonymity?

Join thousands of others, and sign up for Naked Security's newsletter
by Julian Bhardwaj on December 6, 2012 | 16 Comments        

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Privacy

The dark web. Image from ShutterstockThere is a lot more to the web than that which immediately meets the eye.

In fact, the "visible" layer of the web that you and I can easily access via popular search engines is only part of the story.

Hidden on the net is online content which is not so easily accessed, known as the Deepnet (also sometimes called Darknet, the Deep Web or Hidden Web).

Whilst a lot of this content consists merely of websites not indexed by search engines and only accessed by a handful of people, some parts of it are hidden a lot deeper.

A part of the Deepnet is accessed through the anonymity network known as Tor.

Originally sponsored by the US Naval Research Laboratory when released in 2002, Tor is widely used around the world for protecting anonymity online.

Visiting a website through Tor re-routes your connection through a randomised path of other Tor users' computers before reaching the target web server, effectively hiding your originating location from that server.

How Tor works

But why all the cloak and daggers?

It may not be surprising to hear that, whilst Tor is used for many legitimate or moral purposes, this part of the internet is also home to a wide range of criminality and illegal content.

Unlike normal websites, these pages on the Deepnet do not have friendly URLs.

Instead, a seemingly random string of characters followed by ".onion" provides access to these hidden websites. Deepnet pages such as "The Hidden Wiki" provide listings of these URLs to facilitate use of the Deepnet.

Here is a selection of websites listed:

Banker & Co.- Professional Money Laundering Service
Paypal4free - Hacked Paypal accounts for cheap, with balances
Eris - #1 Deepweb Dealer - Cannabis, LSD, DMT, Mushrooms, and MDMA!
All Purpose Identities - Get your Fake ID in the form of US and Canada Drivers Licenses, passports and many more
Rent-a-Hacker - Professional hacker for hire, DDOS, hacking, ruining people, espionage etc
Contract Killer - Kill your problem (snitch, paparazzo, rich husband, cop, judge, competition, etc). (Host: FH)
Crime Network - A place to network and get better at your craft

The really scary thing is that this is just scratching the surface of the illegal activity and content traversing the Deepnet. The deeper you start to dive into websites - whose .onion address is perhaps only known to a select group of people - the darker the content becomes.

There has been much speculation as to how good Tor actually is at making your online activities anonymous. We have previously seen how a Tor-hidden online narcotics store was brought down by authorities, and yet also how Tor has stymied a FBI child abuse investigation.

Tor projectThe time and effort required by law enforcement agents to track nefarious Tor users (even when possible) is infeasible.

Tor "end nodes", the computers that are the ends of the randomly chosen path across the globe that Tor traffic takes, could be in any country.

In addition, it's most likely that the owners of computers acting as end nodes for Tor traffic have no idea of what criminal traffic is passing through their machines.

Politicians and governments might like to believe that they are able to police the internet, but the difficulty of actually enforcing online legislation approaches impossibility when well defined sovereign borders no long exist.

Some are not willing to wait and subsequently let crime go unchallenged.

In October last year, Anonymous controversially took matters into its own hands by taking down alleged child pornography websites, including Lolita City, as part of Operation Darknet.

Anonymous statement about Operation Darknet

Vigilantism aside, the existence of the Deepnet poses a bigger question: what is the cost of online anonymity to society?

The concept of human rights gets a bit confused in an online setting. In fact some people say the human rights framework isn't applicable to online phenomenon and moral philosophy should be considered instead for deeming what is right and wrong.

Certainly, Tor has many moral uses. The Tor Project enables freedom of speech to those living under oppressive regimes and protects human rights activists working overseas from prosecution.

Tor is a powerful tool for the well-intended and the nefarious alike.

It simultaneously provides malware authors clever methods for hiding their malicious command-and-control servers from those trying to shut them down, as well as aiding malware analysts in their research.

It is common for malware authors to blacklist traffic from known anti-virus vendor IP addresses, so researchers often use Tor to overcome this.

Balancing the ethical and moral uses of anonymity networks against the opportunity for abuse by criminals poses the question, should users be allowed to be anonymous online?


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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #28 
ANALYST: The Rise Of Bitcoin Teaches A Tremendous Lesson About Global Economics
Matthew Boesler         | Mar. 7, 2013, 11:53 AM | 10,254 | 22

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Bitcoin

flickr / Zach Copley
The Bitcoin market is booming.

The internet's favorite virtual currency is up over 230 percent since the beginning of the year and up 40 percent from Monday to Wednesday alone.

The latest leg up may be because it looks like the market may finally be going mainstream – now, U.S. banks are getting involved.

Nick Colas, Chief Market Strategist at ConvergEx Group, wrote in a recent note to clients that "there is much to learn from this first online success story in the world of stateless currencies," and there's a lesson to be had in global economics from the Bitcoin market.

Of course, as is the case with most good economics lessons, it's all about supply and demand.

The first thing to understand is how the total amount of Bitcoins in circulation (the money supply, if you will) expands.

Transactions aren't cleared through a central server. Instead, the exchange platform is distributed across thousands of computers, peer-to-peer style (like many popular filesharing networks).

In order to expand the total supply of Bitcoins, users also run complex algorithms on this peer-to-peer network to solve cryptographic puzzles. Each time a puzzle is solved, additional Bitcoins get credited to the accounts of those who solved the puzzle.

So, that is how the "money supply," as it were, expands in the Bitcoin market.

However, each new puzzle gets incrementally harder to crack. The system was designed this way in order to limit the growth of the supply of Bitcoins.

"The overall supply of Bitcoin in the system therefore grows at a slow and pre-ordained rate," writes Colas. "There are currently 10.8 million bitcoins in the system, and this will cap out at 21 million coins in just over 125 years (2140, to be precise)."

Now, as the virtual currency continues to take incremental steps toward mainstream adoption, there is a big demand driver to boost prices.

Here, then, is the lesson, as Colas writes in his note (emphasis added):

When incremental adoption meets relatively fixed supply, it should be no surprise that prices go up. And that’s exactly what is happening to BTC prices. What’s interesting to note is why BTC prices plummet, which they did in the back half of 2011. The cause was a very short-lived hack attack on one Bitcoin “Wallet” company out of Japan, which caused the price to drop from $27 down to $2 in a few months. Confidence in money as a store of value is the ultimate driver of its value, both in the cyber and real worlds.

I have no idea which way Bitcoins will trade in the next 2 days or 2 years, but the whole process of starting a new Internet currency is a great case study in how real people use real currency. Limiting supply has clearly been a huge plus for the BTC. Becoming known as a currency for illegal drugs and gambling is more problematic, of course. But let’s not forget that the U.S. Treasury printed 3 billion $100 bills in the 2012 Fiscal Year. Most of those (the Federal Reserve estimates 80%) go overseas and many of them simply facilitate the global drug and arms trade, not to mention tax evasion and human trafficking. So the BTC’s growing role in the same types of business might qualify it for “Reserve currency” status sooner than anyone thinks.

Supply and demand.
Recommended For You

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/global-economics-lesson-from-bitcoin-2013

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #29 
http://www.bitcoinbullbear.com/

http://www.bitcoinmoney.com/post/45771686409/news-roundup-fincens-guidance-re-virtual-currencies

News Roundup - FinCEN's Guidance Re: Virtual Currencies

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, issued its first guidance brief for 2013 Monday and it addresses the Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies.

First the good news:

A person’s acceptance and/or transmission of convertible virtual currency cannot be characterized as providing or selling prepaid access because prepaid access is limited to real currencies.

Bitcoin is not a debt instrument nor is there any “backing” by a commodity or some promise that it can be be redeemed for value. Therefore it is not being recognized as a “real currency” by FinCEN. This helps Bitcoin avoid the regulations that specifically apply to “prepaid access” (formerly referred to as “stored value”) products.

More good news:

A user who obtains convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods or services is not an MSB under FinCEN’s regulations.

This means a holder of bitcoins can spend those funds without any MSB registration requirement or reporting concerns regarding money transmission.

From there the guidance starts to get murky, or Murcky. Bitcoin Foundation’s general counsel posts his interpretation:

Patrick Murck: https://bitcoinfoundation.org/blog/?p=152

Following is the list of articles on this development:

Payments Source (Bailey Reutzel): http://bit.ly/ZQP5Wg
Bitcoin Magazine (Vitalik Buterin): http://bit.ly/148nx5M
FreeBanking.org (Bradley Jansen): http://bit.ly/ZqSXj1
BLOGDIAL: http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=3488
TheNextWeb.com (Jon Russel): http://tnw.co/WBP2zW
Ars Technica (Timothy B. Lee): http://ars.to/XX0FT9
Forbes.com (Timothy B. Lee): http://onforb.es/YpshNb
http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=154672.0 (Forum post: FinCEN addresses Bitcoin)
http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=154754.0 (Forum post: I am a / “AMLCA”)
http://1.usa.gov/117bnWj (FinCEN FIN-2013-G001)

Further articles will be added to the list as they are discovered. Feel free to post a replly with any that were missed.

Previous Posts - Twitter: @BitcoinMoney

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #30 
Today, we are all money transmitters… (no, really!)

Patrick Murck Mar 19 2013

FinCEN shook us all from our Monday afternoon stupor by dropping some provocative “guidance” for those involved in the business and use of digital currencies and, in particular those of us involved with the grand experiment that is Bitcoin.

You can and should read what FinCEN had to say for yourself here.

Upon an initial reading two things struck me:

FinCEN firmly believes that virtual currency in general, and bitcoin in particular, does not fall under the pre-paid access rules.
FinCEN seems intent on recreating and expanding the pre-paid access rules for virtual currency and bitcoin under the mantle of money transmission.

I was happy to see FinCEN issue some clarity around the overly-broad pre-paid access rules and definitively state that they do not apply in the context of bitcoin. This is quite interesting because in my conversations with seasoned payments and digital currency lawyers, pre-paid access seemed to be the most likely trigger for FinCEN regulation – closely followed, of course, by money transmission.

That’s about where my happiness ended as the clear guidance quickly devolved into something a little less comprehensible.

In particular, I’m a little disheartened that FinCEN appears to be creating an entirely new regulatory scheme under the guise of “guidance.” Of course, FinCEN cannot rely on this guidance in any enforcement action, as they must readily acknowledge. Simply put, under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), FinCEN can’t promulgate new rules without going through a notice and comment proceeding whereby the public may have their voices heard. If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over “money transmitters” to include brand new categories such as “administrators” and “exchangers” of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat. I welcome that conversation.

State Money Transmitter Issues

It should also be noted at the outset, in case there is any confusion, that FinCEN’s rule-making and interpretations have no practical effect on State money transmitter laws (although FinCEN or Congress may preempt such State laws in the future). State MTB laws and enforcement is something that should be discussed, and to some degree worried about, but it’s a separate issue.

FinCEN Overreaches

Read closely FinCEN’s guidance implies that every person who has ever had any virtual currency and has ever exchanged that virtual currency for real currency may now be considered a money transmitter under the Bank Secrecy Act. That is, of course, an untenable position.

FinCEN starts going off the tracks early on, as they carefully define a “User” (not subject to MSB registration) as “a person that obtains virtual currency to purchase goods or services” as opposed to an “Exchanger” who is “a person engaged as a business in the exchange of virtual currency for real currency, funds, or other virtual currency.” Left unsaid are any specifics around the facts and circumstances that would constitute “engaging as a business.”

What is crystal-clear is that once a person sells a single Satoshi for real currency that person is no longer a “User” and therefore not categorically exempted from MSB registration.

Later in the document as FinCEN turns its attention to discussing de-centralized virtual currencies we get the money paragraph.

In a bizarre shot across the bow at miners, FinCEN states unequivocally that “a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter.”

And then, for good measure, FinCEN completely muddies the waters by stating: “In addition, a person is an exchanger and a money transmitter if the person accepts such de-centralized convertible virtual currency from one person and transmits it to another person as part of the acceptance and transfer of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency.”

FinCEN’s position as it relates to bitcoin can be summed up as follows:

A person may spend money to purchase bitcoin or mine bitcoin and then exchange the currency for goods and/or services without having to register with FinCEN as an MSB.
If a person receives real money in exchange for their bitcoin they MAY have to register with FinCEN.
If a miner exchanges their mined bitcoin for real money they MUST register with FinCEN.
Anyone transacting bitcoin on someone else’s behalf MUST register with FinCEN.

This framework would wildly expand the reach of FinCEN and the BSA, and would be infeasable for many, if not most, members of the bitcoin community to comply with. An individual or micro-business cannot be expected to create a robust AML/KYC program anytime they sell 1 or 100 bitcoin on an exchange or in-person. The BSA was never intended to apply this broadly and reach this far into people’s everyday lives. Perhaps a little more guidance is needed.
https://bitcoinfoundation.org/blog/?p=152

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #31 
http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/pdf/FIN-2013-G001.pdf

http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/FIN-2013-G001.html





Guidance
FIN-2013-G001
Issued:         March 18, 2013
Subject:         Application of FinCEN's Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN") is issuing this interpretive guidance to clarify the applicability of the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act ("BSA") to persons creating, obtaining, distributing, exchanging, accepting, or transmitting virtual currencies.1 Such persons are referred to in this guidance as "users," "administrators," and "exchangers," all as defined below.2 A user of virtual currency is not an MSB under FinCEN's regulations and therefore is not subject to MSB registration, reporting, and recordkeeping regulations. However, an administrator or exchanger is an MSB under FinCEN's regulations, specifically, a money transmitter, unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies to the person. An administrator or exchanger is not a provider or seller of prepaid access, or a dealer in foreign exchange, under FinCEN's regulations.

Currency vs. Virtual Currency

FinCEN's regulations define currency (also referred to as "real" currency) as "the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that [i] is designated as legal tender and that [ii] circulates and [iii] is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance."3 In contrast to real currency, "virtual" currency is a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency. In particular, virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. This guidance addresses "convertible" virtual currency. This type of virtual currency either has an equivalent value in real currency, or acts as a substitute for real currency.

Background

On July 21, 2011, FinCEN published a Final Rule amending definitions and other regulations relating to money services businesses ("MSBs").4 Among other things, the MSB Rule amends the definitions of dealers in foreign exchange (formerly referred to as "currency dealers and exchangers") and money transmitters. On July 29, 2011, FinCEN published a Final Rule on Definitions and Other Regulations Relating to Prepaid Access (the "Prepaid Access Rule").5 This guidance explains the regulatory treatment under these definitions of persons engaged in virtual currency transactions.

Definitions of User, Exchanger, and Administrator

This guidance refers to the participants in generic virtual currency arrangements, using the terms "user," "exchanger," and "administrator."6 A user is a person that obtains virtual currency to purchase goods or services.7 An exchanger is a person engaged as a business in the exchange of virtual currency for real currency, funds, or other virtual currency. An administrator is a person engaged as a business in issuing (putting into circulation) a virtual currency, and who has the authority to redeem (to withdraw from circulation) such virtual currency.

Users of Virtual Currency

A user who obtains convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods or services is not an MSB under FinCEN's regulations.8 Such activity, in and of itself, does not fit within the definition of "money transmission services" and therefore is not subject to FinCEN's registration, reporting, and recordkeeping regulations for MSBs.9

Administrators and Exchangers of Virtual Currency

An administrator or exchanger that (1) accepts and transmits a convertible virtual currency or (2) buys or sells convertible virtual currency for any reason is a money transmitter under FinCEN's regulations, unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies to the person.10 FinCEN's regulations define the term "money transmitter" as a person that provides money transmission services, or any other person engaged in the transfer of funds. The term "money transmission services" means "the acceptance of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency from one person and the transmission of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency to another location or person by any means."11

The definition of a money transmitter does not differentiate between real currencies and convertible virtual currencies. Accepting and transmitting anything of value that substitutes for currency makes a person a money transmitter under the regulations implementing the BSA.12 FinCEN has reviewed different activities involving virtual currency and has made determinations regarding the appropriate regulatory treatment of administrators and exchangers under three scenarios: brokers and dealers of e-currencies and e-precious metals; centralized convertible virtual currencies; and de-centralized convertible virtual currencies.

a. E-Currencies and E-Precious Metals

The first type of activity involves electronic trading in e-currencies or e-precious metals.13 In 2008, FinCEN issued guidance stating that as long as a broker or dealer in real currency or other commodities accepts and transmits funds solely for the purpose of effecting a bona fide purchase or sale of the real currency or other commodities for or with a customer, such person is not acting as a money transmitter under the regulations.14

However, if the broker or dealer transfers funds between a customer and a third party that is not part of the currency or commodity transaction, such transmission of funds is no longer a fundamental element of the actual transaction necessary to execute the contract for the purchase or sale of the currency or the other commodity. This scenario is, therefore, money transmission.15 Examples include, in part, (1) the transfer of funds between a customer and a third party by permitting a third party to fund a customer's account; (2) the transfer of value from a customer's currency or commodity position to the account of another customer; or (3) the closing out of a customer's currency or commodity position, with a transfer of proceeds to a third party. Since the definition of a money transmitter does not differentiate between real currencies and convertible virtual currencies, the same rules apply to brokers and dealers of e-currency and e-precious metals.

b. Centralized Virtual Currencies

The second type of activity involves a convertible virtual currency that has a centralized repository. The administrator of that repository will be a money transmitter to the extent that it allows transfers of value between persons or from one location to another. This conclusion applies, whether the value is denominated in a real currency or a convertible virtual currency. In addition, any exchanger that uses its access to the convertible virtual currency services provided by the administrator to accept and transmit the convertible virtual currency on behalf of others, including transfers intended to pay a third party for virtual goods and services, is also a money transmitter.

FinCEN understands that the exchanger's activities may take one of two forms. The first form involves an exchanger (acting as a "seller" of the convertible virtual currency) that accepts real currency or its equivalent from a user (the "purchaser") and transmits the value of that real currency to fund the user's convertible virtual currency account with the administrator. Under FinCEN's regulations, sending "value that substitutes for currency" to another person or to another location constitutes money transmission, unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies.16 This circumstance constitutes transmission to another location, namely from the user's account at one location (e.g., a user's real currency account at a bank) to the user's convertible virtual currency account with the administrator. It might be argued that the exchanger is entitled to the exemption from the definition of "money transmitter" for persons involved in the sale of goods or the provision of services. Under such an argument, one might assert that the exchanger is merely providing the service of connecting the user to the administrator and that the transmission of value is integral to this service. However, this exemption does not apply when the only services being provided are money transmission services.17

The second form involves a de facto sale of convertible virtual currency that is not completely transparent. The exchanger accepts currency or its equivalent from a user and privately credits the user with an appropriate portion of the exchanger's own convertible virtual currency held with the administrator of the repository. The exchanger then transmits that internally credited value to third parties at the user's direction. This constitutes transmission to another person, namely each third party to which transmissions are made at the user's direction. To the extent that the convertible virtual currency is generally understood as a substitute for real currencies, transmitting the convertible virtual currency at the direction and for the benefit of the user constitutes money transmission on the part of the exchanger.

c. De-Centralized Virtual Currencies

A final type of convertible virtual currency activity involves a de-centralized convertible virtual currency (1) that has no central repository and no single administrator, and (2) that persons may obtain by their own computing or manufacturing effort.

A person that creates units of this convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods and services is a user of the convertible virtual currency and not subject to regulation as a money transmitter. By contrast, a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter. In addition, a person is an exchanger and a money transmitter if the person accepts such de-centralized convertible virtual currency from one person and transmits it to another person as part of the acceptance and transfer of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency.

Providers and Sellers of Prepaid Access

A person's acceptance and/or transmission of convertible virtual currency cannot be characterized as providing or selling prepaid access because prepaid access is limited to real currencies. 18

Dealers in Foreign Exchange

A person must exchange the currency of two or more countries to be considered a dealer in foreign exchange.19 Virtual currency does not meet the criteria to be considered "currency" under the BSA, because it is not legal tender. Therefore, a person who accepts real currency in exchange for virtual currency, or vice versa, is not a dealer in foreign exchange under FinCEN's regulations.

* * * * *

Financial institutions with questions about this guidance or other matters related to compliance with the implementing regulations of the BSA may contact FinCEN's Regulatory Helpline at (800) 949-2732.
1 FinCEN is issuing this guidance under its authority to administer the Bank Secrecy Act. See Treasury Order 180-01 (March 24, 2003). This guidance explains only how FinCEN characterizes certain activities involving virtual currencies under the Bank Secrecy Act and FinCEN regulations. It should not be interpreted as a statement by FinCEN about the extent to which those activities comport with other federal or state statutes, rules, regulations, or orders.
2 FinCEN's regulations define "person" as "an individual, a corporation, a partnership, a trust or estate, a joint stock company, an association, a syndicate, joint venture, or other unincorporated organization or group, an Indian Tribe (as that term is defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act), and all entities cognizable as legal personalities." 31 CFR § 1010.100(mm).
3 31 CFR § 1010.100(m).
4 Bank Secrecy Act Regulations - Definitions and Other Regulations Relating to Money Services Businesses, 76 FR 43585 (July 21, 2011) (the "MSB Rule"). This defines an MSB as "a person wherever located doing business, whether or not on a regular basis or as an organized or licensed business concern, wholly or in substantial part within the United States, in one or more of the capacities listed in paragraphs (ff)(1) through (ff)(7) of this section. This includes but is not limited to maintenance of any agent, agency, branch, or office within the United States." 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff).
5 Final Rule - Definitions and Other Regulations Relating to Prepaid Access, 76 FR 45403 (July 29, 2011),
6 These terms are used for the exclusive purpose of this regulatory guidance. Depending on the type and combination of a person's activities, one person may be acting in more than one of these capacities.
7 How a person engages in "obtaining" a virtual currency may be described using any number of other terms, such as "earning," "harvesting," "mining," "creating," "auto-generating," "manufacturing," or "purchasing," depending on the details of the specific virtual currency model involved. For purposes of this guidance, the label applied to a particular process of obtaining a virtual currency is not material to the legal characterization under the BSA of the process or of the person engaging in the process.
8 As noted above, this should not be interpreted as a statement about the extent to which the user's activities comport with other federal or state statutes, rules, regulations, or orders. For example, the activity may still be subject to abuse in the form of trade-based money laundering or terrorist financing. The activity may follow the same patterns of behavior observed in the "real" economy with respect to the purchase of "real" goods and services, such as systematic over- or under-invoicing or inflated transaction fees or commissions.
9 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(1-7).
10 FinCEN's regulations provide that whether a person is a money transmitter is a matter of facts and circumstances. The regulations identify six circumstances under which a person is not a money transmitter, despite accepting and transmitting currency, funds, or value that substitutes for currency. 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(5)(ii)(A)-(F).
11 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(5)(i)(A).
12 Ibid.
13 Typically, this involves the broker or dealer electronically distributing digital certificates of ownership of real currencies or precious metals, with the digital certificate being the virtual currency. However, the same conclusions would apply in the case of the broker or dealer issuing paper ownership certificates or manifesting customer ownership or control of real currencies or commodities in an account statement or any other form. These conclusions would also apply in the case of a broker or dealer in commodities other than real currencies or precious metals. A broker or dealer of e-currencies or e-precious metals that engages in money transmission could be either an administrator or exchanger depending on its business model.
14 Application of the Definition of Money Transmitter to Brokers and Dealers in Currency and other Commodities, FIN-2008-G008, Sept. 10, 2008. The guidance also notes that the definition of money transmitter excludes any person, such as a futures commission merchant, that is "registered with, and regulated or examined by…the Commodity Futures Trading Commission."
15 In 2011, FinCEN amended the definition of money transmitter. The 2008 guidance, however, was primarily concerned with the core elements of the definition - accepting and transmitting currency or value - and the exemption for acceptance and transmission integral to another transaction not involving money transmission. The 2011 amendments have not materially changed these aspects of the definition.
16 See footnote 11 and adjacent text.
17 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(5)(ii)(F).
18 This is true even if the person holds the value accepted for a period of time before transmitting some or all of that value at the direction of the person from whom the value was originally accepted. FinCEN's regulations define "prepaid access" as "access to funds or the value of funds that have been paid in advance and can be retrieved or transferred at some point in the future through an electronic device or vehicle, such as a card, code, electronic serial number, mobile identification number, or personal identification number." 31 CFR § 1010.100(ww). Thus, "prepaid access" under FinCEN's regulations is limited to "access to funds or the value of funds." If FinCEN had intended prepaid access to cover funds denominated in a virtual currency or something else that substitutes for real currency, it would have used language in the definition of prepaid access like that in the definition of money transmission, which expressly includes the acceptance and transmission of "other value that substitutes for currency." 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(5)(i) .
19 FinCEN defines a "dealer in foreign exchange" as a "person that accepts the currency, or other monetary instruments, funds, or other instruments denominated in the currency, of one or more countries in exchange for the currency, or other monetary instruments, funds, or other instruments denominated in the currency, of one or more other countries in an amount greater than $1,000 for any other person on any day in one or more transactions, whether or not for same-day delivery." 31 CFR § 1010.100(ff)(1).
12As our response is not in the form of an administrative ruling, the substance of this letter should not be considered determinative in any state or federal investigation, litigation, grand jury proceeding, or proceeding before any other governmental body.

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hannah

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Reply with quote  #32 
Making history-----        



https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=155036

First Insurance Company to Accept Bitcoin
March 19, 2013, 07:34:37 PM
       
#1
Hello,

I am the system admin for Beauchamp McSpadden, an insurance company based out of Indiana. I have been discussing Bitcoin with the owner of the company, and he decided that we could begin accepting bitcoin for insurance payments. We sell nearly every form of insurance (home, auto, health, life, commercial, umbrella, equine, etc.) and are licensed in all states with the exception of Alaska. Even if you are currently with a major carrier (Progressive for instance), you can transfer the policy to us and begin paying your premium via bitcoin.

Our website (I am aware that it needs much work) is http://www.bmins.com, and I will be adding a section about bitcoin soon.

Our primary headquarters are at 231 W. Canal Street, Wabash, IN 46992, and our phone number is (260)563-8821. I am looking for a few people to be our first bitcoin clients. While I am a system admin and not a producer/CSR, it would be best to contact me via email at kerwin@bmins.com if you are interested, or extension 2192 as no one else has worked with Bitcoin yet (I hope to change that soon!). I will get you in touch with one of our CSRs who will get the best insurance rate possible for you, and if it's worth it for you to switch, I'll send the premium invoices via Coinlab and the rest of the process will be identical to if you were paying with cash.

If this turns out to work well for everyone involved, I'll make the process more automated, but for now we would like to just work with a few clients to test the process.

Please let me know if you are interested, our rates are actually very good (at least in my experience, my dental/auto/life is with us).

Thank you for reading, if you have any advice (such as a better alternative to Coinlab), suggestions, or would like to receive a quote and possibly be one of the first clients, please let me know.

Ken Erwin - kerwin@bmins.com, 260-563-8821x2192


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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #33 
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=119896.0

How to spot bit coin scammers

(for amusement)

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #34 
74 Dollar Bit Coin 3/20/2013


March 19, 2013
Why Bitcoin exploded in price
by Roger Wehbe        

Bitcoin exploded in price (live feed of price indexes) with everyone asking why. Well there are a few perfect storm reasons it exploded, and it exploded in a big way.

1 – Bitcoin was already on a upswing for the past few months, but this doesn’t account for the explosion. It just set the environment.

2 – Bitcoin guidelines published by FinCEN This is bigger than you think. It opened up venture capital and tons of new investment into the bitcoin community and this is where we are seeing most of the increase. With that simple 1 page document, it most likely moved bitcoin from a hacker and tinker world to mainstream. You’re going to start seeing all sorts of bitcoin related stuff popping up.

The end result is that this is now feeding on itself, with it being used for many things because the government just gave it a legal license to work. It’s still murky but now there is at least something out there for investors to feel that whatever they are building won’t just get seized.

So there’s your answer, the cliff notes version?

The US Government gave guidelines for bitcoins to operate, and this came when bitcoins were on the rise.

Oh, I almost forget the third reason. Because of that license to operate, bitcoin is about 2 inches from taking on paypal, square, visa and mastercard…

Adaptive Glass is user supported, by bitcoins. Show your support that one can make a living from bitcoins.
16q2jVoLDpdhGcFaXGronteMb1SRkQVdbg

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #35 
Good luck Hal....... <3        







Bitcoin and me (Hal Finney)
March 19, 2013, 08:40:02 PM
       
#1
I thought I'd write about the last four years, an eventful time for Bitcoin and me.

For those who don't know me, I'm Hal Finney. I got my start in crypto working on an early version of PGP, working closely with Phil Zimmermann. When Phil decided to start PGP Corporation, I was one of the first hires. I would work on PGP until my retirement. At the same time, I got involved with the Cypherpunks. I ran the first cryptographically based anonymous remailer, among other activities.

Fast forward to late 2008 and the announcement of Bitcoin. I've noticed that cryptographic graybeards (I was in my mid 50's) tend to get cynical. I was more idealistic; I have always loved crypto, the mystery and the paradox of it.

When Satoshi announced Bitcoin on the cryptography mailing list, he got a skeptical reception at best. Cryptographers have seen too many grand schemes by clueless noobs. They tend to have a knee jerk reaction.

I was more positive. I had long been interested in cryptographic payment schemes. Plus I was lucky enough to meet and extensively correspond with both Wei Dai and Nick Szabo, generally acknowledged to have created ideas that would be realized with Bitcoin. I had made an attempt to create my own proof of work based currency, called RPOW. So I found Bitcoin facinating.

When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them.

Today, Satoshi's true identity has become a mystery. But at the time, I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I've had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs.

After a few days, bitcoin was running pretty stabily, so I left it running. Those were the days when difficulty was 1, and you could find blocks with a CPU, not even a GPU. I mined several thousand bitcoins over the next weeks. But I turned it off because it made my computer run hot, and the fan noise bothered me. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it up longer, but on the other hand I was extraordinarily lucky to be there at the beginning. It's one of those glass half full half empty things.

The next I heard of Bitcoin was late 2010, when I was surprised to find that it was not only still going, bitcoins actually had monetary value. I dusted off my old wallet, and was relieved to discover that my bitcoins were still there. As the price climbed up to real money, I transferred the coins into an offline wallet, where hopefully they'll be worth something to my heirs.

Speaking of heirs, I got a surprise in 2009, when I was suddenly diagnosed with a fatal disease. I was in the best shape of my life at the start of that year, I'd lost a lot of weight and taken up distance running. I'd run several half marathons, and I was starting to train for a full marathon. I worked my way up to 20+ mile runs, and I thought I was all set. That's when everything went wrong.

My body began to fail. I slurred my speech, lost strength in my hands, and my legs were slow to recover. In August, 2009, I was given the diagnosis of ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who got it.

ALS is a disease that kills moter neurons, which carry signals from the brain to the muscles. It causes first weakness, then gradually increasing paralysis. It is usually fatal in 2 to 5 years. My symptoms were mild at first and I continued to work, but fatigue and voice problems forced me to retire in early 2011. Since then the disease has continued its inexorable progression.

Today, I am essentially paralyzed. I am fed through a tube, and my breathing is assisted through another tube. I operate the computer using a commercial eyetracker system. It also has a speech synthesizer, so this is my voice now. I spend all day in my power wheelchair. I worked up an interface using an arduino so that I can adjust my wheelchair's position using my eyes.

It has been an adjustment, but my life is not too bad. I can still read, listen to music, and watch TV and movies. I recently discovered that I can even write code. It's very slow, probably 50 times slower than I was before. But I still love programming and it gives me goals. Currently I'm working on something Mike Hearn suggested, using the security features of modern processors, designed to support "Trusted Computing", to harden Bitcoin wallets. It's almost ready to release. I just have to do the documentation.

And of course the price gyrations of bitcoins are entertaining to me. I have skin in the game. But I came by my bitcoins through luck, with little credit to me. I lived through the crash of 2011. So I've seen it before. Easy come, easy go.

That's my story. I'm pretty lucky overall. Even with the ALS, my life is very satisfying. But my life expectancy is limited. Those discussions about inheriting your bitcoins are of more than academic interest. My bitcoins are stored in our safe deposit box, and my son and daughter are tech savvy. I think they're safe enough. I'm comfortable with my legacy.
       
Hal
157i5gK7iN4bNAN39Ahuoiq6Tx5TaQukTE


https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=155054.0

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #36 
410 richest Bitcoin holders (updated regularly)


https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=92423.0

As of March 20 2013 (to see the latest information click the link)

the top holder has 111,000 Bit coin or 7.7 million This person could have multiple addresses there is no way of knowing how much the person has.





(sample of the list is below)

111111.11257544 582431b9e63d2394c8b224d1bc45d07ae95d2379 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a Tue Feb 12 04:31:31 2013
79957.04210000 a0b0d60e5991578ed37cbda2b17d8b2ce23ab295 1FeexV6bAHb8ybZjqQMjJrcCrHGW9sb6uF Fri Jan 25 15:36:18 2013
53880.04210000 a82d63de690d6e71f98a2991249310f6a3d9cb88 1GLEtzJ1H2zoGrUA4RMbRJam5UJSdrk6T2 Fri Feb 1 06:04:48 2013
53000.04210000 3d9e561f21d312f9b8b46e74169263e2452d5591 16cou7Ht6WjTzuFyDBnht9hmvXytg6XdVT Fri Jan 25 15:36:18 2013
50000.04110001 863ec44fbf7c9ed0819b52f275006b22ba781794 1DEpjpftLbsGiCJvJDp2F2quVRnymV8U5Q Thu Mar 14 18:25:14 2013
50000.04110000 f1c87a5e8ff7d14e74b858089bf771c94b1b6db4 1P3S1grZYmcqYDuaEDVDYobJ5Fx85E9fE9 Tue Oct 23 03:35:41 2012
47458.04110000 6fbe1851f5d1de5477d147e93b3da5c0c98f4e8e 1BBqjKsYuLEUE9Y5WzdbzCtYzCiQgHqtPN Tue Oct 23 03:35:41 2012
46880.15410977 816115944e077fe7c803cfa57f29b36bf87c1d35 1Co6UHJmGHevWEHAPraSPRVkfGgG46EHwe Wed Mar 20 11:49:04 2013
44864.20534842 e552a6a2afa8ae80a773dc9bb95f8c25c5b3bdd3 1MuYkciQTfRsU94ReAe5MiAfUpCrbLBcFR Mon Feb 25 18:08:18 2013
42660.49317786 184a06d01d290d3d68d38d11aec79c77e054bb6c 13DRu4fXZ7gr8pykRVKwwStPUnUvfhMXJS Mon Mar 11 09:07:44 2013
40000.31337000 76e33a4c4656febfd977925a82c2e381a574ab86 1BqcwhKevdBKeos72b8E32Swjrp4iDVnjP Tue Jan 29 06:50:31 2013
40000.04115000 06b7e90bb7a54137beb01c87119a3cd9061d7d52 1cXNTyXj4xPGopfYZNY5xfSM1EPJJvBZV Tue Feb 26 15:19:00 2013
40000.04110000 0e1d5b7a760ddc32481d9cfc6062107624bac625 12HddUDLhRP2F8JjpKYeKaDxxt5wUvx5nq Tue Oct 23 03:35:41 2012
40000.04110000 3a9a59b996775fbfec889caf30d58368fb368c0e 16Ls6azc76ixc9Ny7AB5ZPPq6oiEL9XwXy Tue Oct 23 03:35:41 2012
38000.04110000 4ff9d8d6614b1da5b3e46ef51c61a544626bf6e5 18Hsgq92AUB1PYLU6MUMQXiwdebaDRo9oQ Tue Oct 23 03:35:41 2012
37620.07483673 a235c56e106baeeefc2b02bb82643179f89664f1 1FngtAcZsLfK89MNe7TqzyqVtSype8TiVD Thu Mar 14 10:07:58 2013

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #37 

Brian Lehrer Interviews Erik Voorhees and Marc Hochstein

Segment 4 -- Cloudy Cash

Finally, Bitcoin, and what the rise of the controversial cyber currency means for banks, government and the economy with guests, Marc Hochstein and Erik Voorhees. Hochstein is executive editor of American Banker magazine and Voorhees directs marketing and communications at BitInstant.com, a New York-based Bitcoin payment processor.




------------------


Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Is Bitcoin the New Safe-Haven Currency? Bitcoins Surge After Cyprus Bank Raid
Activist Post

Is Bitcoin now a safe haven currency? It wasn't long ago when it was considered merely an interesting crypto-currency to buy illegal drugs on Silk Road. Now, citizens all over Europe appear to be flocking to Bitcoin as the European finance vultures circle above.

Europeans woke up this week with a lot less confidence in their banking system after European finance chiefs and the International Monetary Fund announced their plan to steal from private bank accounts in Cyprus in the form of a one-time "wealth tax" to bailout insolvent banks.

These "taxes" will be frozen and confiscated directly out of citizens' private accounts."Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks," according to the New York Times. Do taxes go directly to private banks now?

No wonder Europeans are furious and scrambling to pull their money out of the banking system and park it somewhere safe. And it appears that some are turning to Bitcoin to escape the clutches of the Troika.

Downloads of Bitcoin apps surged in Europe over the weekend and Bitcoin reached a record high price of $52 yesterday.

Read the full article

http://www.activistpost.com/2013/03/cyprus-bank-raid-bitcoins.html

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #38 
Friday, Mar 22, 2013 11:45 AM UTC
A libertarian nightmare: Bitcoin meets Big Government
The hype has never been hotter for the Internet's No. 1 virtual currency. Is this the beginning of the end?
By Andrew Leonard

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/22/a_libertarian_nightmare_bitcoin_meets_big_government/

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #39 
 

 

Taylor More is selling his family's bungalow with an asking price of $405,000 (that's Canadian dollars) or 5,521 Bitcoins. He would rather have the Bitcoins.

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hannah

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Reply with quote  #40 


http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/03/daily-chart-12

A Bit expensive
Mar 19th 2013, 15:18 by Economist.com

Bitcoin's record price looks like a bubble

NOT MANY fund-managers have heard of Bitcoin, let alone put any of their clients’ money in it. But over the past few months, the world’s first “crypto-currency” has become one of the world’s hottest investments. Since September, when The Economist last wrote about it, the price of a unit of Bitcoin as recorded by Mt Gox, a popular Bitcoin exchange, has soared. Unlike other online currencies—such as the new Amazon Coins—the supply of Bitcoin is not determined by any central issuing authority. Instead, new coins are generated according to a predetermined formula by thousands of computers solving complex mathematical problems. As more coins are generated, these problems get ever more complex, increasing the cost of computing power necessary to generate them, and so setting a floor underneath the price. Mimicking gold, the currency is designed to be deflationary. However, there is every reason to think that the current Bitcoin boom will shortly bust. As the chart shows, online interest in the currency has spiked in recent months. Though an increasing number of legitimate businesses are adopting the currency—one Finnish software developer has offered to pay its employees in Bitcoin—it still has relatively few users. Its primary commercial use is probably to buy drugs from Silk Road, a sort of pirate eBay hidden in the “deep web”. This suggests that the new users are buying Bitcoin as an investment, not as a means of exchange. For any currency to thrive it needs users, not just speculators.

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #41 
http://maxkeiser.com/2013/03/20/how-to-slam-the-bitcoin-haters-out-there/


How to slam the Bitcoin haters out there…
Posted on March 20, 2013 by maxkeiser| 64 Comments

Great list debunking bitcoin myths
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Myths
1 Bitcoin is just like all other digital currencies; nothing new
2 Bitcoins don’t solve any problems that fiat currency and/or gold doesn’t solve
3 Bitcoin is backed by processing power
4 Bitcoins are worthless because they aren’t backed by anything
5 The value of bitcoins are based on how much electricity and computing power it takes to mine them
6 Bitcoins have no intrinsic value (unlike some other things)
7 Bitcoins are illegal because they’re not legal tender
8 BTC is a form of domestic terrorism because it only harms the economic stability of the USA and its currency
9 Bitcoin will only enable tax evaders which will lead to the eventual downfall of civilization
10 Bitcoins can be printed/minted by anyone and are therefore worthless
11 Bitcoins are worthless because they’re based on unproven cryptography
12 Early adopters are unfairly rewarded
13 21 million coins isn’t enough; doesn’t scale
14 Bitcoins are stored in wallet files, just copy the wallet file to get more coins!
15 Lost coins can’t be replaced and this is bad
16 It’s a giant ponzi scheme
17 Finite coins plus lost coins means deflationary spiral
18 Bitcoin can’t work because there is no way to control inflation
19 The Bitcoin community consists of anarchist/conspiracy theorist/gold standard ‘weenies’
20 Anyone with enough computing power can take over the network
21 Bitcoin violates governmental regulations
22 Fractional reserve banking is not possible
23 Point of sale with bitcoins isn’t possible because of the 10 minute wait for confirmation
24 After 21 million coins are mined, no one will generate new blocks
25 Bitcoin has no built-in chargeback mechanism, and this isn’t good
26 Quantum computers would break Bitcoin’s security
27 Bitcoin mining is a waste of energy and harmful for ecology
28 Shopkeepers can’t seriously set prices in bitcoins because of the volatile exchange rate
29 Like Flooz and e-gold, bitcoins serve as opportunities for criminals and will be shut down
30 Bitcoins will be shut down by the government just like Liberty Dollars were
31 Bitcoin is not decentralized because the developers can dictate the software’s behavior
32 Bitcoin is a pyramid scheme
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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

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Reply with quote  #42 

Bitcoin Goes Parabolic: My Updated Thoughts
Posted on March 21, 2013        

Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without a government, something necessary and imperative.

- Nassim Taleb on Reddit yesterday

So Bitcoin has finally dipped its electronic toe into the fringes of mainstream consciousness. The results have been, to put it mildly, explosive, divisive and highly emotional. I can see why.

While I had been aware of it prior, I never truly became curious about Bitcoin until I read an excellent six page article about it in the New Yorker on October 10, 2011. I had no clue how the technology worked, but it intrigued me to such a degree that I sent it to my email list of close contacts. What really struck me was the rationale for creating Bitcoin by its creator, the anonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto.” This cryptographer was well aware of the cancerous nature of the world’s monetary system and the key role of Central Banking in that system. This wasn’t just some technology geek playing games with virtual currency, this was a well thought out monetary revolution.

He had thought this entire thing out like a chess grandmaster. He knew he had to be anonymous and that Bitcoin had to be decentralized, because he knew the Central Bank overlords would fight to the death to protect their money monopoly. He created a currency that central planners could not naked short to infinity and manipulate with derivatives as they do with the precious metals markets. It was this foresight that has led to its tremendous success today.

It wasn’t until I started accepting Bitcoin donations in September of last year (donate here) that I truly started gaining a small understanding of the technology and who the major players in the “Bitcoin Economy” are. It was at 10 back then, it is 73 as I write this today.

BTC

A chart like the one above is nothing short of parabolic, and parabolic charts beget parabolic emotions. From my end, I have received some complaints from “gold bugs” who seems annoyed that I am highlighting Bitcoin seemingly in preference to precious metals. To them I have a few things to say.

First, I spent four years writing about gold and silver non-stop. Sorry, it just gets repetitive and boring. Never once have I wavered in my conviction on the need to buy and hold these metals; however, the world is dynamic and when new things enter the picture I will formulate new thoughts. Some of the complaints against Bitcoin are valid, others are not. The one I hear the most, which is completely untrue, is that Bitcoin is another “fiat currency.” I’m often shocked that people make this error, as the definition of fiat is: 1. A formal authorization or proposition; a decree and 2. An arbitrary order. Synonyms include: decree, diktat, directive, edict, rescript, ruling. Bitcoin is 100% voluntary. No one is declaring it the “money of the land,” forcing you to pay taxes in it, or invading the Middle East to protect the pricing of oil in it. So let’s move on.

The one legitimate criticism of Bitcoin with which I sympathize is that it has no intrinsic value. It really doesn’t. Bitcoin can absolutely go to zero. All that would take is people losing confidence in it, or something better coming along. While I see absolutely no evidence of either of these things happening any time soon (in fact I see the opposite), in theory this could happen. Would I rather have a flash drive of Bitcoins in a safe and open it 500 years from now, or the equivalent in gold? I’d still take the gold ten times out of ten. That’s still not the point.

Proponents of precious metals need to be very careful not to tread into the realm of religious dogma when it comes to money. The point of gold and silver is not to sit around worshipping its beauty and the fact you have to mine it, but rather to appreciate it as a means to an end. As a way to vote against the corrupt monetary and financial system plaguing the world. As a potential means of exchange that is decentralized and not of or by the government. While I personally don’t plan on putting a huge amount of my net worth into Bitcoin, I support it wholeheartedly for what it represents and the ingenious philosophy and technology behind it. Do I think Bitcoin could become a huge deal in the world of currency over the next decade? Yes, I do. Do I also acknowledge the enormous risks inherent in it. Yes, I do. Once again, that’s not the point.

The point is no matter what ends up happening with Bitcoin, it is showing us all the way forward. It is showing humanity that we don’t need government for money. We certainly don’t need Central Banks. All we need is each other and a mutual means of exchange by which we agree to trade with each other, no matter what that may be. Bitcoin has led the cat out of the bag and there’s no putting it back in now.

As I write this, there are about 10.9 million Bitcoins in existence, putting the entire market at around $775 million. To put this into perspective, even after this parabolic move, Ben Bernanke still prints into existence an average of four new Bitcoin markets every single day.

So What’s Next
Based on intuition, psychology and nothing more I suspect the Bitcoin market will hit a total value of about $1 billion before experiencing a severe pullback. That would put the price at around 92. At that point, it is likely to be all over the financial press and I think “the state” may be tempted to threaten it. Supporters of Bitcoin should not only expect such an attack, we should embrace it. Just think about how ridiculous the government will look if they attack Bitcoin. I mean, these guys can’t put a single banker in jail, but when citizens decide to freely exchange goods using a currency of their choice that is where they draw the line! Bitcoin’s purpose is to both show us the way forward and to make the authorities look foolish as they spastically and irrationally respond to it. I suspect it will be highly successful in accomplishing both objectives.

As Woody Guthrie might say if he were alive today: This Digital Currency Kills Fascists.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Reply with quote  #43 
New Yorker charges you to read the article HERE IS A FREE COPY



Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin Virtual Currency : The New Yorker
The New Yorker, Oct 10, 2011
http://cryptome.org/0005/bitcoin-who.pdf

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #44 
Trying to unmask the creator of Bit coin

http://www.fastcompany.com/1785445/bitcoin-crypto-currency-mystery-reopened


The Bitcoin Crypto-Currency Mystery Reopened
By Adam L. Penenberg
|
October 11, 2011

A New Yorker writer implies he found Bitcoin's mysterious creator. We think he got the wrong man, and offer far more compelling evidence that points to someone else entirely.

In a recent New Yorker story, Joshua Davis wrote a story on Bitcoin, the crypto-currency that has ignited the imaginations of the technorati and led to a rush of media coverage. But this is no usual magazine feature. Not only does Davis, a marvelous writer whose work I've long admired, offer a primer on Bitcoin--what it is, how it works, why it’s important--he sets off on a journey to find its mysterious, secrecy-obsessed inventor, who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. I think the man he found at the end of his search is the wrong guy. And by transparently sharing my own process for tracking Bitcoin's elusive inventor, I will show how a stream of stunning coincidences can end up pointing to not one, but three potential candidates.
What The Hell's A Bitcoin?

// Bitcoins are a decentralized virtual currency that rely on public-key cryptography. If you buy something with a Bitcoin you're simply transmitting a symbolic token stamped with a complex number that transfers ownership to someone else. Unlike traditional banking, which keeps customer information private, Bitcoin transactions are transparent so the "market" knows when a bitcoin is spent but not the owner's identity. Money supply is increased by users who "mine" bitcoins by dedicating computer processing power to the Bitcoin network. Bitcoins are not regulated by any government or bank, and the currency has seeped into criminal activities. As a result, legislators are threatening crackdowns, and some claim it is a vast scam.

For more, watch this.

As Davis reported, Nakamoto published a research paper in 2008 that detailed the ideas underpinning Bitcoins and wrote hundreds of posts to a forum in "flawless English." After one last post in April in which he claimed he had "moved on to other things," he vanished, yet his footprints are everywhere. Davis pored through Nakamoto's online writings, all 80,000 words and searched for clues. The mystery man's prose was quite clean, he noted, very few typos, and after his first post, in which he employed American spellings, he switched to the Queen's English for all the rest. Color was "colour," gray, "grey," an apartment was a "flat" and he wrote "bloody hard" at least once. What's more, embedded into the Bitcoin code is a tag that relates to a Times of London headline from January 3, 2009, on the government being on the brink to rescue Britain's banks with a second bailout. Then Davis interviewed a leading computer security researcher who sifted through Bitcoin's code, searching for flaws. He didn't find any, concluding that Nakamoto would have to be "a world-class programmer" with "a deep understanding" of C++--the programming language--and an extensive background in cryptography, economics, and peer-to-peer networking.

Davis reasoned that Satoshi Nakamoto was probably a British national and set off for the Crytpo 2011 conference in Santa Barbara to find him. It led him to Michael Clear, a 23-year-old graduate student in cryptography at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Clear had worked at a bank, co-authored a paper on peer-to-peer, and, unsurprisingly, employed British spellings. The first time Davis asked Clear, who was named Trinity's top computer student in 2008, if he were Bitcoin's creator, Clear just laughed. The next time Davis asked, Clear replied, "I'm not Satoshi, but even if I was I wouldn't tell you."

After the article was published and numerous media outlets picked up on the sleuth-mystery angle, Clear denied he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He told IrishCentral, "My sense of humor when I said 'even if I was I wouldn't tell you' is missing, this was said jokingly." Clear "found it funny that the New Yorker reporter thought I was Satoshi, but I have always (beyond conversational jokes like the quote above) vehemently denied it. I could never allow myself to be even remotely given credit for someone else's creativity and hard work."

This is where I come in. Like Davis, I too had been trying to find Satoshi Nakamoto and had accumulated a body of circumstantial evidence--including some crazy coincidences--that, taken as a whole, led me to believe that Bitcoin's creator was probably someone else entirely. I wondered if the British spellings and the headline inserted into Bitcoin's code were red herrings, placed there to throw pursuers off the scent. Wasn't Nakamoto's first post written with American spellings? It wouldn't take much for someone as bright as Nakamoto to create a modest disinformation campaign.

But I wasn't confident I could confirm my suspicions. The man (or men) behind Bitcoin had shown he wanted to disappear, and unless he would agree to talk, there was no way I could ever be sure. Unlike, say, Dan Lyons as "Fake Steve Jobs," who confirmed his pseudonymous identity when finally confronted, Satoshi Nakamoto wasn't likely to cooperate, even if promised anonymity in exchange for an interview. For months I sat on this research. Then Davis's article came out.

So I offer my process here, with the caveat that these unlikely coincidences could end up being just that, even though in my opinion my evidence is much more convincing than Davis's. (Said with respect, yo!)

First, most believe that Satoshi Nakamoto is a made up name, and it seems a person as learned as Bitcoin's creator might be tempted to choose a pseudonym that encompasses a deeper meaning. In Japanese Satoshi translates into "clear-thinking; quick-witted; wise." "Naka" can mean "inside" or "relationship" while "moto" is defined as "the origin; the cause; the foundation; the basis." So we have "clear-thinking" "inside" "the foundation." Mystical, isn't it?

I started with some amateur textual analysis of Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin paper, extracting fragments of phrases and running them through Google. I figured I'd see if any of the ones in the paper appear elsewhere online. People tend to repeat themselves. The trick is to plug in unique-sounding fragments and place them in quotes. That way you only get a handful of results to comb through. I struck out on the first few, which all appeared solely in the Bitcoin paper, and there was one irrelevant link. Then I tried the term "computationally impractical to reverse." It resulted in 26 results, the vast majority related to the Bitcoin paper or to bitcoins themselves. Except for one of the last ones--a patent application:

Updating And Distributing Encryption Keys invention

Feb 18, 2010—... the outputs of which are fixed-size strings that are computationally impractical to reverse-map. In this manner, the shared secret, ...

It was for a "system and method for providing secure communications." Initially, "an exchange protocol, such as a password-authenticated key exchange protocol, is used to create a shared secret. From the shared secret, two keys are created: a utilized key and a stored key. The utilized key is used to encrypt messages between nodes. When it is time to replace the utilized key to maintain security, the stored key is utilized to encrypt messages for generating/distributing a new shared secret. The new shared secret is then used to generate a new utilized key and a new stored key. This process may be repeated any number of times to maintain security."

After reading that, I wondered if it could be related to Bitcoin's technology. What are bitcoins but shared secrets? Encryption plays a vital role, and they are certainly dynamic.

I looked at the date on the patent application filing: 08/15/2008.

Now take a look at the domain bitcoin.org. It was registered three days later.

Domain Name:BITCOIN.ORG

Created On:18-Aug-2008

Now that is one hell of a coincidence. What are the odds that a phrase in Nakamoto's Bitcoin paper would be replicated in a patent application filed the same year? Further, what are the odds the domain name for Bitcoin would have been registered 72 hours after the patent application was filed?

Based on the timing, I wondered if one of the people on the patent application--or perhaps all three--had based the Bitcoin concept on research that led them to this patent application. The three inventors listed on patent #20100042841 are Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, Charles Bry, and all three have filed numerous patent applications over the years.

Neal King (he also goes by Neal J. King from Munich, Germany) is listed on a number of patent applications, notably "UPDATING AND DISTRIBUTING ENCRYPTION KEYS" (#20100042841) and "CONTENTION ACCESS TO A COMMUNICATION MEDIUM IN A COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK" (#20090196306), both of which seem Bitcoin-y to me.

Charles Bry, who also resides in Munich, has filed several applications, many dealing with nodes and networks.

Vladamir Oksman, who lives in the U.S., has several patent applications, too, and they too seem related to networks, nodes.

I found another patent application that lists the three of them as inventors, filed June 2008--two months before the Bitcoin.org domain was registered.

KEY MANAGEMENT FOR COMMUNICATION NETWORKS

"Abstract One embodiment of the present invention relates to a method for key management in a communications network. In this method, a public key authentication scheme is carried out between a security controller and a plurality of nodes to establish a plurality of node-to-security-controller (NSC) keys. The NSC keys are respectively associated with the plurality of nodes and are used for secure communication between the security controller and the respective nodes."

Could that also be related to Bitcoin?

Now, another coincidence: The Bitcoin.org domain was registered by a Finnish provider, based in Helsinki.

Charles Bry traveled to Finland in late 2007, six months before the domain was registered. In addition, Bry, who is a senior system engineer, lists German, English, French, and Italian as languages he speaks, and went to college in Paris. He works for a company called Lantiq.

Then there's Neal J. King, and there are more oddities. A Neal J. King has a Facebook page that is sketchy with personal information, yet if you search for "Neal J. King" in Facebook's search box, his profile doesn't pop up. His wall is filled with posts about the recent Wall Street protests, banking, and criticism of the Patriot Act. Keep scrolling down and he "likes" blau.de, a German mobile phone sim card site. He also claims highbrow taste in literature and books, and it seems he's an avid reader, having reviewed 46 books on Amazon--many deal with astronomy, biology, cryptography, linguistics, literature, mathematics, philosophy and physics. I read through his reviews, and his writing is excellent. Very clean. No typos. His sentences are elegant yet there are no extra words. The writing style reminds me of Satoshi Nakamoto's posts in the Bitcoin Forum minus British spellings, which, as I noted above, I believe is a canard.

Finally, I looked up Vladamir Oksman's LinkedIn profile (there are a couple of guys with this name, but he was easy to find). He is a staff software engineer at Samsung, driving integration and commercialization of Android-based smartphones, and also has a vast technical background, including Linux, Msft, etc. Oksman lives in New Jersey.

Here's another subtle connection, and I'm not sure what it means. If you google "Vladimir Oksman bitcoin" you get a handful of results, including his LinkedIn profile, a patent application listing him as an inventor, and his resume. Yet "bitcoin" does not appear on any of these pages. When I checked cached versions of the first two results, it said, "These search terms are highlighted: vladimir oksman. These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: bitcoin."

So the word "bitcoin" appears in links pointing to this page? Why? I tried this with the two other inventors on the "Updating And Distributing Encryption Keys invention" patent. "Neal King Bitcoin" gets you two useless results, and neither have links with bitcoin pointing to their pages. '"Charles Bry Bitcoin" has zero results.

In conclusion, each of the three inventors listed on the patents can be circumstantially tied to Bitcoin. A fairly obscure phrase from the Bitcoin paper leads to a patent application that explores a similar technical topic and was filed that same year. The bitcoin.org doman was registered three days after the patent application was filed. The three inventors seem to have the skills, and King's writing shares similarities with Nakamoto's, as do his interests.

But are they Satoshi Nakamoto? I showed my research, including the patents, to several computer security professionals--ranging from experts in cryptogaphraphy to network analysis pros--and there was a wide range of opinions. Meanwhile Charles Bry denies that he and/or his co-inventors are related in any way to Bitcoin: "I hope I do not disappoint you too much by saying that I am not Satoshi Nakamoto, nor am I associated with him or with Bitcoin in any way. I believe I can state with absolute certainty the same of the other co-authors of our cryptography patents." I also messaged Vladamir Oksman through LinkedIn, and he replied with a terse "Wrong person."

Neal J. King offered the most detailed response. He said the technical topics between his patent application and Bitcoin, "are very different, excepting that both relate to authentication to some extent." He claims he "had never heard of Bitcoin until this question came up," and had to look up Bitcoin on Wikipedia, concluding that, "It’s not a very good idea: Nakamoto’s algorithm is a solution in search of a problem." He finds fault with the lack of a guaranteed value for Bitcoins. "As long as people want to play the game, they can pretend that a Bitcoin has value, but if someone refuses to accept it, you can’t make him; and it would be seriously unwise for him to accept it." He contrasts this with the U.S. dollar, which "also has no intrinsic value" but since it can be used to pay taxes it can be used to settle debt. "If the U.S. government loses the ability to enforce payment obligation on that person, a $1 bill will also have no value beyond the paper."

He concludes: "So whether I have dazzled you with my insight, or baffled you with my obtuseness, I think you will agree that no one who would write the paragraphs above would have invested the considerable amount of time Nakamoto spent elaborating the Bitcoin concept."

I didn't find his argument particularly persuasive. For one, it begs credulity that someone who has filed patent applications dealing with cryptography had never heard of Bitcoin until I asked about it. That would be like a journalist claiming he never heard of Twitter. And just because a currency is accepted by a government to settle taxes doesn't mean its citizens will continue to believe in its value. When a currency suffers hyperinflation--like in Zimbabwe, for example--people adopt other currencies, namely the dollar or euro. And recall that Joe Klein, who was eventually outed as "Anonymous," the author of Primary Colors--that oh-so-mid-1990s literary mystery--also initially denied writing the book.

But the point of this column isn't to claim we found Satoshi Nakamoto. It's to show how circumstantial evidence, which is what the New Yorker based its conclusions on, isn't synonymous with truth. I doubt the New Yorker found the right guy. I also believe that our evidence is far more compelling, yet we also probably haven't nailed it either. In fact, we may have to wait a Deep Throat length of time before we ever find out who the real Nakamoto is, and by then it might not matter.

In the end, Nakamoto's greatest, uncrackable code might be his own identity. In Davis's New Yorker article he describes the impenetrable nature of Nakamoto's code. Every time his computer security researcher thought he found a hole, he would discover a taunting message from Nakamoto indicating it had already been patched. It was, Davis said, like a thief tunneling under a bank only to discover that someone had poured concrete into his path "with a sign telling him to go home."

Just like Davis, I found all this information that pointed directly to someone, but in the end I ran into a brick wall, albeit accompanied by far more gentler denials.

Classic Nakamoto.

Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at NYU and a contributing writer to Fast Company. Follow him on Twitter: @penenberg.

[Image: Flickr user Matre]

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"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #45 
Web Money Gets Laundering Rule

Comments (63)

By JEFFREY SPARSHOTT

The U.S. is applying money-laundering rules to "virtual currencies," amid growing concern that new forms of cash bought on the Internet are being used to fund illicit activities.


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The Treasury says money-laundering rules apply to 'virtual currencies.'

The U.S. is applying money-laundering rules to "virtual currencies," amid growing concern that new forms of cash bought on the Internet are being used to fund illicit activities. Jeffrey Sparshott reports. Photo: AP.
From the Archive

A digital currency for Microsoft Outlook? Social Networks? WSJ's Andy Jordan talks to currency renegades tired of big-government centralized cash, and desperate to make their own (legal) money systems.

The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. WU +1.04% They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000.

Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies.

The rising popularity of virtual currencies, while no more than a drop in the bucket of global liquidity, is being fueled by Internet merchants, as well as users' concerns about privacy, jitters about traditional currencies in Europe and the age-old need to move money for illicit purposes.

The arm of the Treasury Department that fights money laundering said Monday that the standard federal banking rules aimed at suspicious dollar transfers also apply to firms that issue or exchange money that isn't linked to any government and exists only online.

One of the fastest-growing alternative cash products is Bitcoin, an online currency launched in 2009 that isn't backed by a central bank or controlled by a central administrator. Currency units, known as "bitcoins" and consisting of a series of numbers, are created automatically on a set schedule and traded anonymously between digital addresses or "wallets." Certain exchange firms buy or sell bitcoins for legal tender at a rate that fluctuates with the market.
[image]

It isn't clear if the latest guidance would apply to a merchant's online scrip. Amazon.com Inc., AMZN +1.72% for example, in February announced Amazon Coins, which starting in May can be used to buy apps and games on Kindle Fire. An Amazon Coin is worth one cent.

Amazon didn't respond to a request for comment.

"We are beyond the stage where this was just funny money and a fun online thing. This is used as a currency," said Nicolas Christin, associate director of Carnegie Mellon University's Information Networking Institute.

Bitcoins can be used in a host of legitimate transactions—for example, website Reddit allows users to upgrade services using bitcoins and blog service Wordpress.com's store accepts them as a form of payment. Pizzaforcoins.com also lets bitcoin savers pay for deliveries through Domino's and other pizzerias.

On the other hand, at least one online service takes bitcoins as payment for illegal drugs, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report last year. Bitcoin's backers point out that criminals will use any currency for money laundering or illegal purchases.

"I think it's inevitable that just like you have U.S. dollars used by thieves and criminals, it's sadly inevitable you will have criminals use a virtual currency. We want to work with authorities," said Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin developer.

Still, law enforcement, regulators and financial institution have expressed worries about the hard-to-trace attributes of virtual currencies, helping trigger this week's move from the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen.

Creating clear-cut rules for virtual currencies is difficult. A FinCen official said that anti-money-laundering rules would apply depending on the "factors and circumstances" of each business. The rules don't apply to individuals who simply use virtual currencies to purchase real or virtual goods.

The new guidance "clarifies definitions and expectations to ensure that businesses…are aware of their regulatory responsibilities," said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCen director.

The FBI report last year said Bitcoin attracts cybercriminals who want to move or steal funds. "Bitcoin might also logically attract money launderers and other criminals who avoid traditional financial systems by using the Internet to conduct global monetary transfers," the report said. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about the agency's concerns regarding virtual currencies.

For now, the size of the bitcoin market is so small that it could be difficult or costly to move and exchange large amounts of illicit funds. Another danger: extreme price fluctuations.

The value of a bitcoin rose to more than $60 a unit from less than $49 on one exchange following the release of FinCen's new guidance—a move that Mr. Garzik attributed partly to a new level of certainty and legitimacy that federal recognition attaches to bitcoin transactions.

The American Bankers Association in 2011 asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to apply consumer financial protection laws uniformly across the financial sector regardless of whether an entity is a traditional bank or one of the evolving nonbank payment providers.

A CFPB spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

"This framework would wildly expand the reach of FinCen and the [Bank Secrecy Act],' said Patrick Murck, legal counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, a trade group that promotes Bitcoin software and security standards. He said the government's rules "would be infeasible for many, if not most, members of the Bitcoin community to comply with."

Some firms say they anticipated the rules. Charlie Sherm, chief executive of bitcoin payment processor BitInstant, said his company is already compliant.

Mr. Christin of Carnegie Mellon said that he believes Bitcoin's dominant use right now is speculation.

"When you have a commodity or currency whose value has grown as rapidly as Bitcoin it makes sense to hold on to it as a speculative instrument," he said. It also is commonly used for online black markets or gambling sites. "Whether used for money laundering…there is no smoking gun."

Trading also is limited. On the biggest exchange, Japan-based Mt. Gox, volume has ranged from the equivalent of about $427,000 a day to just over $8 million a day during the past month, according to BitcoinCharts, a website that provides financial and technical data on bitcoins.

The jump in the bitcoin exchange rate this week also coincides with concerns euros could be taken from retail bank accounts in Cyprus to fund a bailout. Internet blogs say speculators are looking toward currency alternatives.

Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at jeffrey.sparshott@dowjones.com

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"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #46 
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"VPN Gate Client" is a specialized VPN client software to connect to a Public VPN Relay Server on the online VPN server list of VPN Gate Project. It is very similar to Tor, however, VPN Gate is more easy-to-use and any kinds of protocols can be transmitted. VPN Gate is faster than Tor or other anonymous-Internet systems. VPN Gate Academic Experiment Project (http://www.vpngate.net/) is an online service as an academic research at the Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan. The purpose of this research is to expand the knowledge of "Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers". VPN Gate consists of a lot of Public VPN Really Servers. Globally-distributed anonymous volunteers provide each Public VPN Relay Server in their home PC, and the VPN Gate directory server provides the list of active VPN servers. OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSL-VPN and SSTP are supported so that any PCs or smartphones can connect to a VPN server in the list. You can take three advantages if you use VPN Gate: 1.You can bypass the government's firewall to browse oversea web sites (e.g. YouTube). 2.You can camouflage your IP address to hide the source of sending information over Internet. 3.You can protect use of Wi-Fi with strong encryption. Unlike existing VPN services, VPN Gate has strong resistance against firewalls. VPN Gate is free of charge. No user registrations required. For more about VPN Gate, please visit http://www.vpngate.net/en/. As you can see at http://www.vpngate.net/en/lastlog.aspx , a large number of users from countries around the world uses VPN Gate to access to overseas web sites. There are a lot of countries which have "Government's Firewall" to block their citizen's freedom Internet access. VPN Gate is the service which helps such people to bypass the censorship by Government's Firewall. University of Tsukuba VPN Gate Project is struggling to realize the new-era of VPN usage from everybody and every-country beyond the border.
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hannah

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Reply with quote  #47 
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Bitcoin Bubble or New Virtual Currency?


Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/bitcoin-bubble-or-new-virtual-currency.html

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Reply with quote  #48 
Engineering the Bitcoin Gold Rush: An Interview with Yifu Guo, Creator of the First ASIC-Based Miner
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/engineering-the-bitcoin-gold-rush-an-interview-with-yifu-guo-creator-of-the-first-asic-based-miner
By Alec Liu
Yifo Guo, co-founder of ASIC builder Avalon. Photos of Guo are by the author.

A month after it reached a new all-time high, the rollercoaster ride that is bitcoin continues to thrill and confound after a series of events helped propel the virtual currency to stratospheric new heights, more than doubling its market value with the digital currency now trading at over $70.

Over in Europe, the threat of financial Armageddon gave citizens new reason to consider the viability of cyberpunk alt-money. As Cypriot officials put 100 euro limits on withdrawals, the tiny Mediterranean island will soon welcome its first bitcoin ATM.

Here in the U.S., Silicon Valley venture rich-guys continued to bet on the promise of this burgeoning internet-of-finance disruption, while the department of the U.S. Treasure that combats money laundering, FinCEN, for the first time, issued guidance on decentralized virtual currencies, tacitly giving bitcoin the legal thumbs up but also paving the way for impending regulations.

And quietly in the background, a company called Avalon shipped the first ASIC-based bitcoin miners, custom-built rigs with specially-designed chips for efficiently printing the market’s hottest commodity, ushering in what can be considered the internet’s first gold rush. (Someone recently paid $20,000 for a $1,500 miner from batch two on eBay. At the time of this writing, another auction has a batch two Avalon miner going for over $19,000.)

After opening up its third batch of 600 miners for sale yesterday, customers from around the world from countries like Argentina, the UK, and even Egypt (although the majority of orders came from the big three of the U.S., Russia, and China) made sure Avalon’s units sold out in fifteen minutes. We had the chance to sit down with Avalon’s founder, Yifu Guo to talk bitcoin, mining, and the future.

Yifu Guo with an Avalon ASIC bitcoin miners at BitInstant's offices in New York

Motherboard: So how and when did you get involved with bitcoin?

Guo: It was early 2011 when some article about bitcoin popped up in my RSS feed. I don’t remember the exact article but I remember thinking at the time that this was the stupidest thing ever. It would never work. But what kept my attention was that it was open source and after a few days of thought and further research, I concluded that this was legit.

What did you do from there?

At first I just got involved with the community. I didn’t do anything presentable per se, but I participated in some feature discussions, became a regular in the forums. One of my first projects was this website that showed verified physical locations that accepted bitcoins called Bitcoin Navigator. It's still up (sometimes).

What was the community like back then?

The community was very... immature, I’d say. It was mostly tons of speculation. There was nothing really meaningful you could do back then. Mining was the central focus because of the profit incentive. And so a lot of people were just mining these things and so was I. The two long term goals then were to build services around bitcoin while also getting people to accept the concept.

Most of the core developers are idealists, much like the community now. A lot of the people in the community are definitely in it for the money, to get in early and watch the price rise. That’s essentially why it blew up very quickly (in July of 2011). There was no volume, but there was a ton of speculative hype and so a bubble formed.

This time around, there’s still a ton of interest, but there’s also more volume. Every day since reaching the new all-time high, more people are getting into bitcoin. They realize it’s not going to go away. And the people who believed from the beginning never left.

When did things start getting more serious?

I think things were always kind of serious. I would say it really took a turn in September in 2011, when the first bitcoin conference convened in New York City. I went, and all these important bitcoin insiders showed up, like Gavin Andreeson, Jeff Garzick, the entire core dev crew basically, as well as the people running real world bitcoin services. Not [bitcoin creator] Satoshi Nakamoto obviously, but a lot of early people showed up. There was this electric buzz, people talking about the projects they were working on, imagining this bitcoin-powered future. It was incredibly exciting.

"The Holy Trinity of bitcoin is the hardware support, the meshnet for powering the infrastructure free of outside control, and then bitcoin itself."

It was at this time that I started getting to know a lot of the core community. Not the speculators and miners, but people who were actually trying to build out this ecosystem around this idea. I had this sort of epiphany. What I realized was that for true bitcoin adoption, we needed hardware. Tons of software was being developed but no hardware. So I set out to make an Android-powered tablet back then, a simple, cheap tool merchants could use as a point-of-sales. That project is still ongoing, by the way.

Soon after, Occupy Wall Street happened. I knew someone who was doing tech ops and I wanted to help out, since bitcoin and Occupy are, in a way, philosophically aligned. I met someone working on this meshnet project, which was essentially this apparatus that would provide everyone in the area with internet access.

It was then that I realized that this was going to be the Holy Trinity, if you will, of bitcoin, where you have the hardware support, the meshnet for transferring information and powering the infrastructure and services free of outside control, and then bitcoin itself.

Avalon's ASIC assemblyline in Shenzhen, China, via Avalon

This was around the point that I became fully immersed in the bitcoin community. The next conference I attended, in San Francisco, was in March (there was also one in London in late 2012) and by that point, I had come to terms with the fact that this was the future. By then, I had been working on this tablet prototype for a few months.

A month later, in April, I finally had the opportunity to go to China to take the next step and figure out logistically what I had to do to get this thing manufactured. It was there that I ended up meeting one of my future co-founders. That, along with being on the ground in Shenzhen would eventually allow us to fast track our ASIC production when the time came.

"We can’t have a monopoly in mining. It's not very good for decentralization."

From an ASIC perspective, things got serious in around June or July when Butterfly Labs first released their ASIC lineup, which was a big deal. They promised to ship in October, and in a matter of days took in over a million dollars, That, on the one hand, wass exciting because bitcoin is progressing technologically, but on the other hand, we were aware of the potential risks. We can’t have a monopoly in mining. It's not very good for decentralization.

So this is when we decided we had to step up and this is when developing an ASIC suddenly became a real discussion. In September 2012, we announced that we would offer 300 units if we could get the crowdfunding to do it. We announced this fully knowing that our competitor would deliver the next month, but that was fine since we simply wanted to get the chips and the technology out there in the wild.

We never intended for this to be a real business. But then lo and behold, Butterfly Labs announced that they were delayed. October came and went, November came and went, December came and went and they still hadn’t shipped. Meanwhile, we’re chugging along.

Then in late January we tried to deliver. Well, we tried. It was almost Chinese New Year and nothing happens during Chinese New Year. Fast forward to now, we’re done shipping the first few hundred units, so we’re 90 percent done with batch one.

This is an obvious question, but why aren’t you mining your own chips?

Like I said, the current reality is vastly different from what we originally had planned. We always figured we would be late to the party. Butterfly Labs and bASIC (another ASIC developer that ultimately failed to launch) were supposed to launch in succession. But due to various complications and delays, it didn’t work out that way.

If they had delivered on their promises, they would have shipped months before our first batch. We wanted to start selling chips so people could make their own units, providing a hedge from a single entity becoming too powerful, and then move onto a new project. That was our main goal. We wanted to prevent this potential monopoly. As it turned out, we became the monopoly we tried to prevent.

via Avalon

You aren’t doing any mining at all?

Nope. Fun fact: none of the Avalon team have their own mining units (outside of test units).

If this was going to be a temporary project, how much longer will you keep the business going?

At this point, we’re going to keep making them until we run out of funding, now that bitcoin mining will continue to be “a thing” rather than not. Of course, everything changes when our competitors eventually deliver. And then we will see what the situation is and go from there. The short term plan is to push for generation two chips as soon as we obtain the necessary funds.

Batch one was $1,300 and batch two was $1,500. At a cost of 75 BTC, batch three units effectively cost ~$5000. What gives?

Well, one of cofounders commented on that, and the main thing is trust, which, since the beginning of the bitcoin movement, has always been the most valuable resource above all else. The first batch could have been a potential scam, so we had to price it at $1,300 (which is the same price that Butterfly Labs has been offering).

"If we wanted to maximize our profit, we could charge much more. For us, this has always been an ideal-oriented problem, not a business-oriented one."

We’ve had plenty of opportunities, such as keeping the technology to ourselves and simply mining, but that was never our intention. So how much is that trust worth? We think it’s worth $5000 by itself. Beyond that, the calculation is based on the current difficulty rate so that break-even point occurs in a month. Which, by the way, as an investment vehicle is a fairly unique proposition. It should be mentioned also that the cost of the batch two was also 75 bitcoins. That the exchange rate has moved is out of our control.

And in the end, this was never what we wanted. If we wanted to maximize our profit, we could charge much more. For us, this has always been an ideal-oriented problem, not a business-oriented one. This is one of the primary reasons we aren’t clearly in the black.

We’re lucky that we held onto the second batch of bitcoins because if it weren’t for the appreciation, we would be very, very deep in the red, which ultimately still isn’t that big of a deal. But batch three now gives the project monetary sustainability, especially since we need to purchase an SMT machine (a pick-and-place machine for mounting devices onto circuit boards) to produce our generation two chipset.

Okay, so now you’ve started shipping your ASIC systems, but as more people get the same miners, the machines become less profitable. Does it really make sense to dive in, for such a premium, this late in the game?

The whole risk/return calculation is detached from fiat currency. The loop has been closed. It’s like any other investment, part mathematics, part faith. Difficulty is not going to skyrocket by multiples of fifty or even ten.

No one can predict the future. We don’t know if Butterfly Labs is going to ship or how fast they’re going to ship. In the end, the price is based on a break-even formula of one month. After that, if you don’t think this is a profitable endeavour, then please, for the love of God, don’t buy from us and stop complaining.

Basically, as more people get into mining, everyone makes less money.

Yes. This is the gold rush. It’s first come, first serve. In reality, the first have come and have already been served. Batch one and two was where it was at.

So then what’s your advice for a prospective miner that’s been recently seduced by all the bitcoin headlines? Is it too late to join in on the fun?

[Points to t-shirt above] In reality, if you have bitcoins already then, I think buying a miner is kind of cool because it’s not only about making money. If you’re here for short term profits, you should stick to day trading.

Mining is sort of magical. I remember hearing a story at a team meetup in Beijing. There was this miner who had moved from Brazil, and he basically expressed that, sure, this thing is making me some money, but what it has really done is changed my life. He couldn't believe that this was real, mining around the clock in front of his house.

"Eventually you’ll be able to hook it up to APIs where it will automatically order your groceries for you."

This machine liberates people. Suddenly, you can figure out what you want to do as a human being because it takes care of your living expenses. Eventually you’ll be able to hook it up to APIs where it will automatically order your groceries for you. It’s crazy but it’s going to happen.

If ASICs are the technological pinnacle, what’s next for bitcoin and mining?

Of mining’s technological evolution? Yes. In terms of major technological developments, it will be a while. What’s going to happen is that there is going to be a die shrink in order to reduce power consumption and increase speed based on smaller gate sizes. Eventually we’re going to reach the theoretical wall because of physics. The atoms will be too small. I don’t know when that will be hit, but the sooner the better.

If bitcoin is a $1 billion market, and it only takes less than $1 million to secure the network right now, that’s not a lot of money for someone to try and take over the mining scene. The faster the technology progresses, the more secure the network is, because it will be that much harder for a malevolent entity to mess with the system. We want to reach 14 or 10 nanometers as soon as possible. IBM/Intel is playing with 7 nanometers right now. The sooner the better so we’ll never again have this scenario where one company like Avalon essentially controls more theoretical computing power than the entire network’s hash rate. This will never happen again.

So inherent technological security?

Yes. Then we can feasibly protect the network based on predictive production and performance. At some point quantum computing might show up, but what is really next? Nobody knows.

Fresh miners being tested, via Avalon

If this was never the plan, what’s next for Yifu Guo after Avalon?

Besides ASICS? I want to finish my tablet. I don’t like to build services, I like to build platforms and infrastructure. I want to build a tablet that’s open source. Apple has done a great job of convincing us that technology is expensive when what they’re really selling is a luxury good. Everyone has an iPhone even though it’s essentially a luxury product. They’ve turned the smartphone into jewelry.

Which is fine, but we want something that works but is also cheap. We’re talking really cheap. We want to cut costs tremendously and offer a $100 tablet that is as good, spec-wise, as the Nexus 7, by cutting out all the middlemen. We have access to manufacturing and engineering, and eventually we’ll have our own factories so there will be very little overhead.

What about bitcoin? Where do we go from here?

I think bitcoin still needs more acceptance and the next major milestone is mainstream adoption. Adoption is a natural organic thing that can just happen. Bitcoin’s core features–ease of transfer and production without middlemen–will always give it value.

"How can we take bitcoin’s strengths, its cryptography, its decentralization, and how do we utilize and leverage this model?"

That’s why we don’t really care about its exchange rate. We don’t look at it like a stock, we look at it like technology. It’s a platform. How can we take bitcoin’s strengths, its cryptography, its decentralization, and how do we utilize and leverage this model? Whatever business you’re running right now, add bitcoin to the equation and you’ll see instant profits.

What do you think is the root of all the uncertainty?

People need to get their head out of the sand in terms of thinking of it as a competitor to their local currencies. We no longer live in a localized economy. We live in a globalized economy and bitcoin is designed for a globalized system.

If bitcoin is useful and it has true staying power, what’s the big picture story here? Why does it matter?

Bitcoin is an enabler based around the ideals of peer-to-peer, open source, and decentralization. That’s the future and bitcoin is the vehicle that will take us there. It takes the banks and the humans and the Federal Reserve out of the equation. Without those institutions, we can do things more freely and easily. It allows us to get things done without all of the friction, and whatever we do will be built around these ideals.

How will the recent FinCEN guidance affect mining?

I am not a lawyer but the way I understood it, people who mine are not going to have a problem. Mining pools (organizations that allow users to contribute processing power for their share of the bitcoins) might have to deal with certain regulations, such as applying for licenses.

For individual users, it should be okay, since apparently, using bitcoins to pay for goods and services is fine. Once you have the intention of turning that into dollars or some other fiat currency, then problems might arise. Ultimately this is simply guidance. Our motto used to be, ask for forgiveness, not for permission. But recently I came to terms with an even better maxim, since we’re technically not doing anything wrong. Act and defend your position. And our position is bitcoin. We believe in it.

"It’s not about how much bitcoin is worth. The exchange rate is irrelevant. It’s about the concept."

And ultimately, I think the recent guidance is arguably good thing since it finally offers clarity. This kind of verbiage means that certain organizations can now start accepting bitcoins with more confidence knowing that the government has essentially given virtual currencies the official okay. This be a major jumping off point for mainstream adoption. Exchanges have been following the rules anyway knowing that regulation was inevitable so for most companies, there isn’t a whole lot of change.

What could the government conceivably do to bitcoin then? What’s the worst case scenario?

The worst case scenario is that they attempt to destroy bitcoin itself, and there are numerous strategies they could use, which we don’t really have to go into. But the point is, the idea will never die. Even if bitcoin dies, an alternative will arise, one that addresses the vulnerability that was previously exploited. Then you get bitcoin 2.0.

Which again, it’s not about how much bitcoin is worth. The exchange rate is irrelevant. It’s about the concept of a peer-to-peer ledger keeping system, which so far is working swimmingly. And I think the best example is BitTorrent. They’ve spent billions fighting it and failed. BitTorrent is still rampant. Meanwhile, legitimate companies are now finding uses for the technology.

@sfnuop

Read more about bitcoin:

A Guide to Bitcoin Mining: Why Someone Bought a $1,500 Bitcoin Miner on eBay for $20,600

Why Bitcoins Are Just Like Gold

When Governments Take Your Money, Bitcoin Looks Really Good

Is It Time To Take Bitcoin Seriously?
By Alec Liu 2 days ago

Read more: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/engineering-the-bitcoin-gold-rush-an-interview-with-yifu-guo-creator-of-the-first-asic-based-miner#ixzz2OuoHMapF
Follow us: @motherboard on Twitter | motherboardtv on Facebook

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Test your connection for leaks:
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Use TAILS
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How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
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Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
0
hannah

Registered:
Posts: 797
Reply with quote  #49 
http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/105346-bitcoin-may-be-the-global-economys-last-safe-haven

Bit coin trades at 94.00 on 3/28/13

Bitcoin May Be the Global Economy's Last Safe Haven
By Paul Ford on March 28, 2013
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-28/bitcoin-may-be-the-global-economys-last-safe-haven

One of the oddest bits of news to emerge from the economic collapse of Cyprus is a corresponding rise in the value of Bitcoin, the Internet’s favorite, media-friendly, anarchist crypto-currency. In Spain, Google (GOOG) searches for “Bitcoin” and downloads of Bitcoin apps soared. The value of a Bitcoin went up to $78. Someone put out a press release promising a Bitcoin ATM in Cyprus. Far away, in Canada, a man said he’d sell his house for BTC5,362.

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a pseudonymous hacker who calls him or herself Satoshi Nakamoto (and who might be several people). It’s a form of virtual cash used to buy goods and services online. Even by Web standards, it’s a strange and supergeeky phenomenon. This is what happens when software and networks meet the concept of currency, when you take peer-to-peer networks and advanced cryptography and ask, “How can I make a new economy?”

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There are 10,952,975 Bitcoins in circulation. (With a digital currency you can be specific.) Bitcoin isn’t about to replace hard currency—with a market cap of $864 million, all of it is worth less than what Facebook (FB) paid for Instagram—but it’s bigger than anyone expected. And many people will tell you that the emergence of a virtual global money supply beyond the reach and control of any government is very real and that it’s time we take it seriously. As long as the Internet remains turned on, Bitcoin will be there—to its adherents, it’s the Platonic currency.

A dollar bill has a serial number and travels from buyer to seller. A Bitcoin’s not so much a thing as an understanding, a balance in a decentralized general ledger, or “account log.” Bitcoins are created as the side effect of a great deal of meaningless computational work. That is, the computer could be working on protein-folding, or processing images, or doing something else with its time, but instead it’s being used to “mine” Bitcoins—searching for mathematical needles in a networked haystack. Once the needle is found, a “block” of Bitcoins is born. Bitcoins live in a bit of software known as your “wallet.”

How did they get there? Perhaps you minted them by mining, or bought them on an exchange, or received them as part of a barter transaction. Now those Bitcoins are burning a bithole in your bitpocket, and you want to buy something. How do you spend them? Clicking around your wallet app, you set up a payment and put in the Bitcoin address of the recipient—something memorable and fun, like 1Ns17iag9jJgTHD1VXjvLCEnZuQ3rJDE9L. A few minutes later, after the peer-to-peer network has authorized the transaction as legitimate, the recipient’s wallet, wherever it is, will show that you’ve paid up.

How is this different from PayPal (EBAY)? In theory anyone could run his own version of PayPal on a server and use that to transfer funds between parties. But he’d also need to handle world currencies, deal with security, and handle regulations. Similarly, physical banks promise protections above and beyond stuffing cash in a mattress or dropping it off in paper bags. Financial institutions commodify trust—it’s not their money, after all. It’s yours. Yet you trust them more than you trust yourself.

Bitcoin shrugs all this off. It’s not pegged to anything, and there are no regulations. It’s a supercomputer-size chore to counterfeit. The key thing to understand is that there’s no bank, no Federal Reserve, in the middle. It’s not unlike an exchange-traded fund (for example, FORX, from Pimco)—a mix of non-U.S. currencies—designed as a hedge against the dollar. Bitcoin is a hedge against the entire global currency system. And no exchange is needed, unless you want to convert your Bitcoin into an actual hard currency.

Bitcoin is no more arbitrary than derivatives or credit default swaps. Given that regular folks, if they’re nerdy and interested in Bitcoins, can use the currency for all manner of things, including illegal things, it’s arguably a far less arbitrary instrument.

Maybe Bitcoin’s devotees are right, and it’s the currency of the future. Or perhaps it’s a ridiculous joke—a speculative, hilarious enterprise taken to its most insane conclusion. Given that the founder is nowhere to be found, it feels like a hoax, a parody of the global economy. That the technology used to implement it has, so far, shown itself to be impeccable and completely functional, and that it’s actually being exchanged, just makes it a better joke. The truth is, it doesn’t much matter if it’s a joke or not. It works.

The Internet is a big fan of the worst-possible-thing. Many people thought Twitter was the worst possible way for people to communicate, little more than discourse abbreviated into tiny little chunks; Facebook was a horrible way to experience human relationships, commodifying them into a list of friends whom one pokes. The Arab Spring changed the story somewhat. (BuzzFeed is another example—let them eat cat pictures.) One recipe for Internet success seems to be this: Start at the bottom, at the most awful, ridiculous, essential idea, and own it. Promote it breathlessly, until you’re acquired or you take over the world. Bitcoin is playing out in a similar way. It asks its users to forget about central banking in the same way Steve Jobs asked iPhone (AAPL) users to forget about the mouse.

I have an intense memory from the early 1990s, when I was just out of college. I was seated alone in a diner. Suddenly a loud man behind me pronounced, “Internet time is like regular time but seven times faster.” I turned around to see a well-dressed adult, a serious person. I was mystified. How could he believe something so facile and arbitrary? On and on he went, expounding on the magical number seven.

Having been through one or two bubbles, I’ve learned that people can believe exactly what they want to believe. That’s one of the privileges of being a human with money to spend. When you compound utopian wishfulness with the anxiety of being left behind, you’ll have a bubble. Then again, we may be at the forefront of the coming Bitcoin revolution. There’s no way to be sure. I’ll admit to having run the Bitcoin mining software a few years ago for a week until I became convinced it was a poor use of limited computer resources. I had work to do. I expected Bitcoins to remain in the background with all of the other anarchist crypto-chatter that makes up an essential substratum of modern network thinking.

But Bitcoins didn’t go away. And I’m increasingly convinced there’s one thing that Bitcoins do that’s genuinely interesting. They decentralize trust. Trust is hard to earn; verifying transactions is a brutal problem, which is why PayPal locks down your account when there’s too much money flowing into it. Creating trust is traditionally the work of federal governments and branding agencies. Trust is also an easy thing to squander. Just close a beloved service, à la Google Reader. Or allow your banks to fail, causing an entire country to suddenly realize that the value of their deposits, the fundamental integrity of their financial selves, was arbitrary all along.

Along comes Bitcoin, a currency in which every transaction is stored by the entire network and every coin has its own story. There’s nothing to trust but math. Suddenly an idea that sounded terrible—a totally decentralized currency without a central authority, where semi-anonymous parties exchange meaningless tokens—becomes almost comforting, a source of power and authority.

That’s where Bitcoin thrives: where people would prefer to throw in their lot with anonymous strangers instead of the world economy. It’s gold-bug thinking reinvented for an age of fluid transparency and instantaneous transactions. And as such it’s an excellent indicator of anxiety. Where you see Bitcoins in action you find a weird and heady mix of speculative angst, a fear of being left behind, and people who appear to have lost faith in institutions, who feel most left behind. These are people who’ll trade in purely arbitrary tokens, willing to forgo the comfort of banking systems for the weight of mathematics and the Internet behind it.

Bitcoin isn’t tied to any commodity—besides trust. As a statement on the global economy, Bitcoin is hilarious. As a currency for the disenfranchised and distrustful, it’s as serious as can be.

©2013 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved. Made in NYC

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Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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hannah

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Bit coin price =$$$93.80
https://mtgox.com/

Bitcoin prices surge post-Cyprus bailout
By Maureen Farrell @CNNMoneyInvest March 28, 2013: 6:25 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Shares of the cyber-currency bitcoin have surged in the past week as investors seek safe havens following the unprecedented bailout of Cyprus' banks.

Bitcoin is an unusual place to seek security. It's a four-year-old digital currency developed by a hacker who still remains anonymous.

But these are unusual times. Depositors in the tiny island nation of Cyprus are struggling to gain access to cash stored in the nation's banks, and some face losses on their deposits. The situation has caused investors all over Europe to question the safety of the banking system.

The price of one bitcoin has popped 87% since Cyprus began discussing tapping deposits as part of the bailout by the EU and IMF. Bitcoins now trade at $88 each, up from $47 on March 16, 2013, according to data from Mt. Gox, the currency's main trading exchange. That compares with just 5 cents per bitcoin in mid-July 2010, when Mt. Gox first started tracking prices.

Related: 'Funny money' has officially entered the real world

Trading volume has also exploded. Between 60,000 and 110,000 bitcoins have changed hands per day recently, according to Mt. Gox. That's double to triple the amount traded a few weeks ago.

Albert Hendriks, a 32-year-old programmer for a high-speed trading firm in Amsterdam, jumped into the currency for the first time this week, purchasing €1000 worth of bitcoins. He's not worried about the safety of the global banking system, but he sees bitcoins as a lucrative investment.

"I think the currency is maturing," Hendriks said. "It's risky, but I think more and more people are starting to trust it."

Bitcoin investors can trade in their coins for cash through a number of sites like Coinbase and BitInstant that work directly with banks to facilitate transfers. Some vendors are starting to accept the coins too, including the blog hosting site Wordpress and the online community Reddit.

Jeff Berwick, a media entrepreneur who runs the website Dollar Vigilante, hopes to open one of the world's first bitcoin ATMs in Cyprus in the next few weeks. The ATM there would allow individuals to retrieve cash for their digital bitcoins or put cash into the machine to add to their bitcoin collection.

"It's going to be an experiment," said Berwick, who also aims to install a machine in Los Angeles in the next few weeks.

Related: Why cyber currency Bitcoin is trading at an all-time high

Bitcoin has been one giant global experiment since an anonymous developer using the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto" created it in 2009 as a currency that's free from government intervention and has no central bank backing. Bitcoin transactions typically carry very low exchange or processing fees.

As of now, nearly 11 million bitcoins are in circulation, making the current value of all outstanding bitcoins roughly $975 million.

These coins are "minted" by a network of computers running specialized software on powerful (and often pricey) hardware systems. The software is designed to release new coins at a steady -- and finite -- pace that slows down over time. Bitcoin's algorithm caps the total number of bitcoins that will ever be created at 21 million. More than 99% of them will be circulating by 2033, but the very last bitcoin won't be generated until around 2140.

"The point of the bitcoin is that you don't have to trust the founder," said Jeff Garzik, a computer programmer in Raleigh, N.C., who has served as a consultant to businesses working with bitcoins. "People are drawn to it because it can't be artificially manipulated by any human. Central bankers can't just decide to make more of it."

Last week, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued new guidelines outlining what anti-money laundering rules virtual currencies like bitcoin must follow. Critics say that the currency's anonymity makes it particularly useful for money launderers. Members of Silk Road, an online drug bazaar, use it as their currency of choice.

Although bitcoin businesses now have more regulatory hoops to jump through, Garzik said he sees the new rules as a tacit acceptance by the U.S. government of the currency's legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Hendriks hopes that he won't ever have to exchange his newly purchased bitcoins for dollars or euros.

"I hope it will become a global currency, and I can use it without turning it back into another currency," Hendriks said.

-CNNMoney's Steve Hargreaves contributed to this report. To top of page


First Published: March 28, 2013: 6:11 AM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/28/investing/bitcoin-cyprus/

__________________
Test your connection for leaks:
http://ip-check.info/?lang=en

Use TAILS
https://tails.boum.org/

How to boot from USB and other great stuff:
http://www.rmprepusb.com/

Open pdf and word files online instead of on your puter'
http://view.samurajdata.se/

USE the net more securely:
https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/04/help-support-little-known-privacy-tool-has-been-critical-journalists-reporting-nsa
https://www.torproject.org/download/download

http://www.theintelligencenews.com/


"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes......"



"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information.... it's all about the information!"
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