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Hillary Clinton Wants Silicon Valley to “Disrupt” ISIS

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Arguments against strong encryption will break down on a long enough timeline. If not for the simple reason that strong encryption protects everyone and weakening it will inevitably make us all less safe, then the fact that interfering encryption research in the west won’t stop malevolent actors from further developing the open source encryption tools permanently available to them by law. For many of these tools are open source, not merely made available at the whim of their creators, and this means their code is immutably available, for better or worse.

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However, the tools we refer to here are not the ones that everyday people, and, if the governments have it right, terrorists are relying on. Rather, they are packaged into communications tools like Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, and others. These communications providers have seemingly banded together over the past year to ensure that encrypted communications are available to their customers. Facebook even added a Tor hidden server, making Facebook accessible from the dark web.

Government officials worldwide have shamelessly capitalized on the attacks in Paris to make renewed calls for restrictions on encryption technology. Common wisdom tells us, given the epic failure of the decades-long War on Drugs and the prevalence of illegal arms as well as child pornography, that the government cannot effectively ban anything. The government making something illegal simply creates a black market in it, and typically only those willing to break the law then have it. In a more digital example, the seemingly immutable nature of content piracy is another great example. Those willing to pay subscription fees and download fees to content providers do so, but the rest continue to pirate like it’s 1999. This is to say that even if officials have their way, the bad guys will still use encryption, even if they are forced to pick up development on their own.

And, like guns, officials aren’t calling on the government, which controls the NSA, a clearinghouse for many encryption standards, to abandon encryption. For that would be madness. The government can be trusted until they can’t, as we learned regarding the activities of the other wing of the NSA.

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Also read: UK Set to Ban Internet Companies from Providing Total Encryption to Its Users

Now Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is calling for Silicon Valley to help the government in its mission to make communications less secure. As most politicians, she seems to have no clue what she’s actually asking them to do. Security doesn’t work if it’s only available to some, privacy doesn’t exist if it’s only available to certain levels of privilege. Freedom of speech is certainly less real if it’s only available for acceptable forms of political speech.

Nevertheless, in an address to the Brookings Institute yesterday, Clinton told audience members that this isn’t about freedom, privacy, or encrypted communications. This is about destroying terrorists. Ignoring the old adage about those who would sacrifice freedom for security, Clinton said:

You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech’ […] We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS.

Facebook and other companies have not been shy about deleting the accounts of people who violate its policies about violence and hate speech (or even those who just seem related to ISIS), but at the same time the company’s goal is to provide social connectivity for the entire globe. It would seem that if some of these people hold Jihadist beliefs and even discuss them with their friends on the platform, well, it’s not as if that couldn’t happen in the analog world.

Clinton has indubitably cast herself as one of the more stone-age candidates in this race, but then again, none of the current list has shown a particular aptitude for how technology works. Instead, they all seem to believe that encryption can be modified to their purposes, or that privacy is only deserved by those they approve of, and they apparently cannot see the logical conclusion of their arguments – a dystopia much more real than any science fiction novel.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Observations from a Post-Bubble(?) World

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If you have any kids, you’re by now familiar with the phenomenon of the Angry Birds. The game series and subsequent branded clothing and the like have created something literally insane: a $1 billion IPO valuation for something called Angry Birds. We’re not making this up.

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Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish maker of Angry Birds, is targeting an IPO that would give it a market value of €802 million ($956 million) to €896 million ($1.1 billion). […] Rovio said it would price shares between €10.25 ($12.20) and €11.50 ($12.30). […] Rovio has built an empire around its popular mobile game Angry Birds, including toys, clothes and an animated 3-D movie. […] The gaming app, which was released in 2009, allows players to sling virtual birds at enemy pigs to save their eggs.

Meanwhile, people are concerned that we’re in a bubble with cryptocurrencies and, more specifically, with initial coin offerings and the technologies coming out of them. Let’s be real: the two things are not the same. For better or worse, games and movies are proven ways to make money, while most of the technology we’re offered in the ICO space is speculative at best.

But, of the technologies that we’re offered, those that actually do succeed, well, some of the will re-shape society. And that’s what we’re betting on: the kind of money that is made then. But it’s clear that if we were in a bubble, it recently popped. The bloodshed may not even be over, there may be speculative pumps left before the whole market has some time to rebuild. All the same, it’s helpful to monitor what’s going on in the rest of the world to determine if we’re really overvaluing things.

Most firms in the ICO space differ from Rovio in two ways: they don’t have a working product or solid revenue to point at. As such, most of them aren’t trying to value themselves at nearly the same level. But if society can afford this amount to value a games company, then certainly we’re far from having too many fundamentally transformative companies come out of the cryptocurrency space.

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We’re either a long way from the bubble or somehow in a world where bubble economics don’t truly apply. Every token brings with it a stagnated exit from the cryptocurrency market, thereby inflating the amount of value that is actually invested in the crypto economy. The amount of demand to liquidate it actually is less important when the activity around ICOs is viewed through this lense: even when people, or the network as a whole, loses a bit of money, it gains in new participants, who later are likely to re-add the lost value.

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Bitcoin

Sunday Devotional: Keep Your #Hodl Hand Strong

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If you bought now, at the all-time highs of Bitcoin and you’re itchy about $5,000 or $10,000, perhaps taking a look at those who’ve been in your shoes before is in order. Or perhaps you don’t have much Bitcoin, but you’ve got a lot of Ethereum and tokens on its blockchain. Even better, perhaps you’re holding a number of one of the alleged Bitcoin long-term contenders, XMR or Dash.

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If you look historically at the people who’ve bought during other highs, the ones who got impatient are the ones who lost the most. The ones who quietly held through were rewarded the most richly.

We can take the example of a friend of the publication, who sold Bitcoin very near the ultimate bottom. Strictly speaking he could have had $50 million in Bitcoin assets today if he had instead decided to hold, but things certainly looked bleak for the currency in those days. He was not alone in selling the bottom, nor truly irrational when one considered all the angles. No one ever is. This is what you have to keep in mind: people who were buying at that time were paying the most anyone was willing to pay, and people who were selling were accepting far less than they had seen others sell coins for. But some people were just off the market in those waters. These people played a successful strategy through a long, cold winter.

Some mining outfits are always dumping their coins, no matter the price. Bills have to be paid, after all. So while it may seem that Bitcoin is “stable” at its current prices, we’re just as likely to see turbulence and dips. Unless you’ve some more performative place to put your funds (such as one of the trade recommendations or ICOs reviewed here at Hacked), you’re still probably going to end up with a greater long-term profit by retaining the coins. Especially if you retain them in ways that ensure they truly belong to you, IE, off exchanges during times when you don’t anticipate actually trading them.

There’s nothing wrong with selling the highs and buying the lows, but long-term, some people have done equally as well by doing nothing at all. While this article is meant as a broad overview, one can imagine that some people had to take measures to deal with the old weak hand syndrome. After all, if everyone is panicking and letting you know the building is on fire, it only makes sense to try and escape with everyone else.

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But if you believe firmly in the longevity of your asset, sticking it out may become worth it. Increasingly, products will emerge that will allow people to maintain possession of their crypto assets but extract leverage via peer-to-peer and even institutional lending. Such a paradigm will enable the crypto class to enter the business world in unforeseen ways, perhaps in unforeseen numbers.

Buy and hold is a strategy that will work well for so-called “blue chip” cryptos, but it is not future-proof. Aside from security holes that can arise in cryptography from generation to generation, simple innovation can displace something like a cryptocurrency, and network effects can shift current. If one region of the world becomes less friendly, in a regulatory sense, to do business in, then perhaps cryptocurrency will move its volume to another.

Cryptocurrency is by definition censorship resistant, after all, because a design which does not enable its fungibility is essentially the opposite of the “digital cash” paradigm. When such problems arise, those who kept their hold hand strong will still be able to conduct business, and where things are most repressive, in a more catastrophic forecast, still be able to escape troubled waters.

featured image courtesy of Pixabay

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Has The Bull Market Returned for Bitcoin?

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In a twist of sorts, instead of bitcoin’s first chain-split hardfork sending price down under, it has fueled it up to an all time high of $3,339.50, some $350 higher than its previous brief all-time high of $3,000 on June 11th.

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That was followed by a sell-off which nearly halved bitcoin’s price to what might be a bottom of around $1,800 on July 16th, with a sharp price increase soon after to $2,300, a segwit bull-run to $2,700, a Bitcoin Cash crash back to $2,300 and now the recent bull run to an all-time high.

Bitcoin’s Spring Summer

That’s not what was meant to happen according to the hardfork naysayers. There was meant to be doom and widespread confusion. Bitcoin was meant to be over, done, gone, if it chain-split. People were to lose money, poor newbies would run to mummy and on and on.

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What actually happened was what cooler heads predicted. The fork would unlock new value, giving everyone exactly what they want. Thus restoring confidence and optimism, leading to a price rise.

In this case, the price rise has been higher than many thought. That’s probably because bitcoin has become just a bit more interesting and cool. The currency has proved now you can’t control it. It has also proved its decentralized nature is inherent rather than a point of debate.

Rather than smoke filled rooms or closed door meetings, bitcoin has now shown its true governance in action. That of giving the free market exactly what it wants by forking, placing both currencies under its mercy.

That is something that has never happened before in this manner and shows the full power of bitcoin and any public blockchain based currency. You can’t choose your centrally issued fiat. With bitcoin, you get exactly what you want and no one can deny you such right.

If you want full blocks, empty blocks, or no blocks at all with IOTA, if you want smart contracts or simple multi-sig scrypt, Lightning Network or Raiden, Rootstock or the EON lot, you can have what you want in the great cryptocurrency amazon.

Where birds have flashy colors and some flowers even eat meat, where lions rule and snakes bite too, where elephants roam above them all yet get terrified by a little mouse.

The mix in this space isn’t too much different. The wall-street testosterone pumped jockey hangs around with glassy nerds, looked upon by flashy artists with the swindlers all around.

Cryptocurrencies’ current combined market cap.

No wonder we are seeing what looks like a sharp V recovery with the combined market cap of all digital currencies nearing its all-time high of around $116 billion. Currently standing at just under $113 billion.

That’s more than many household brands. Eth and Bitcoin Cash have not yet even had their all-time bull run. So some are wondering, billions were cool last century, can this space manage a trillion?

I’m not one for hype, but the millenial generation is now entering a stage where their lives and careers are starting to stabilize after the confused teenage years and rocky early 20s.

They are now getting a stable income, maybe even settling down, with real purchasing power – perhaps higher than any other generation. They experienced first hand how the Middle East wars robbed them from some of the teenage fun. How the bank collapse ruined for many of their friends the early out of university years.

So when they look at gold they may think it outdated. When they look at stocks they may think it too stiff upper lip, when they look at cryptocurrencies they may think it as fun.

Because they’re not just buying something, but becoming part of a movement. A movement that returns money to the people. A movement that brings back investing to the masses, taking it off from the restricted and secluded VC ivory towers.

A movement where we are in charge. We, the free market. Where we have liberty and choice by just a click to get the exact thing we like and if its not on offer we’ll just code it and wala – it is now.

The young, those currently in university or just about leaving, will follow them. The old, those in the 50s or 60s, will hear them, because they are right. As such, real power has or is about to shift to the millennial generation, the late 20s early 30 somethings.

A generation that has found a solution in digital currencies where they may argue about bitcoin or bitcoin cash or ethereum or whatever else, but they all know it’s all just fun, not much different than brothers fickles.

For while some might see hate, I see passionate love between the three main ones. Sure, there are some currencies that objectively deserve polemics, but bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, some of the tokens, deserve the highest respect.

Because all three are pioneers in a very new world we are building. All three have sound bases, good foundations, great aims and either could lead. More importantly, the three currencies are all focused on actually achieving something that goes beyond mere price.

That is, they employ no tricks, through marketing or otherwise. They are not a get rich project, here today, gone as you sleep. They are serious attempts towards providing a solution to the problems the millennial generation saw and experienced as they were coming of age.

Their competition, therefore, although it may appear ruthless, it is in fact friendly. Long may it live and long may liberty reign above all three and above us all for a very, very long time.

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