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Shock Wave on the Ice: The Pirate Party Could Win Iceland’s National Elections Next Saturday, Grab Power

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Pirate Party (Sweden)

The Pirate Party of Iceland, founded in 2012 to champion direct democracy and internet freedom, is projected to win Saturday’s general election and could end up leading Iceland’s next government, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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In June, Hacked reported the the Pirate Party had become the largest political party in the country according to polling results.

The probable victory if the Pirate Party in Iceland has been trending in remote corners of the internet for a few weeks, but now the mainstream press is taking notice, and the mainstream political establishment is beginning to fear.

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According to a survey conducted by the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland, the Pirate Party is expected to take 22.6 percent of the popular vote, beating the ruling center-right Independence Party, which is expected to take 21.1 percent.

Like other Pirate Parties around the world, the Pirate Party of Iceland is an offspring of the original Pirate Party, founded in Sweden by Rick Falkvinge in 2006. “On January 1 2006 at 20:30 CET, the Swedish and first Pirate Party was launched by me setting up an ugly website,” remembers Falkvinge in a post titled “The First Ten Years of the Pirate Party: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead.” The conclusion of Falkvinge’s ten years Pirate history and roadmap reads:

We’re champions of free speech. This means allowing nudity in the United States and hate speech in Germany, for example, despite being politically inconvenient and almost taboo.

In view of the recent wave of attacks to freedom of thought and calls for the dullest “politically correct” (PC) conformity, Falkvinge’s words are refreshing and welcome.

The Election Manifesto 2016 of the Pirate Party of Iceland provides a clear, short, no-nonsense outline of the politics of the Party. According to the Icelandic Pirates, the increased freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom of the press is the foundation on which a healthier democracy can be built, alongside direct democracy and a strong commitment to defending personal privacy.

“We want to protect the individual’s right to self-determination by strengthening civil rights and increasing freedom of choice when it comes to health, employment and lifestyle,” notes the Pirate Manifesto. “We want to ensure a healthy democratic right to self-determination through active public participation and supervision of those in power. Modern information technology provides innovative new ways to increase democratic participation and public influence.”

“We want Iceland to lead the way when it comes to legally protecting freedom of expression and freedom of information, as stipulated in the June 16th 2010 parliamentary resolution on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative,” continues the Manifesto.

It is also urgently necessary to ensure that the government respects its citizens’ right to privacy, both online and offline. An important step in that direction would be the abolition of data retention laws and laws permitting the government and private companies to gather and sell personal information about individuals.

“Voting for the Pirates is an expression of protest against the establishment,” said University of Iceland political scientist Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, as reported by the WSJ. “Their support reflects voters’ hopes that political renewal through replacing the established elites is possible and desirable.”

That widespread sentiment has fueled the impressive growth of new anti-establishment political parties in Europe, including Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy.

The Party of Decentralization and Online Freedom

PirateBay.se LogoBut the Pirates are something else. As the Party of the Internet and crypto-anarchy, they firmly stand in favor of decentralization and online freedom, against a mainstream political establishment that harasses peaceful citizens and monitors them 24/7.

“The Pirates are focused on decentralization of power, access to information and civil and human rights,” said Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, in a recent TorrentFreak interview.

According to Helgadóttir, the Pirate Party is ready to bring the change many citizens are longing for. The MP added that the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative “brings limited liability for intermediaries, whistleblower protection, enhanced source protection, due process, defamation law reform and data protection, among other things.” The Pirate Party of Iceland is persuaded that the measures taken by many governments to block access to “copyright infringing” websites like The Pirate Bay are “a step in the wrong direction.”

These measures are not a solution and only exacerbate the problem. There needs to be a review of copyright law and how creators are compensated for their work.

Images from Wikimedia Commons and The Pirate Bay.

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Cybersecurity

The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency

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For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.

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The Pirates Are At It Again

The Pirate Bay has been caught using software called Coinhive, a JavaScript library that essentially serves as a cryptocurrency miner. It basically connects to visitors’ computers to mine Monero, one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrencies.

The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”

Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.

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Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.

CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors  know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.

“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.

The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.

Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally

The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.

Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.

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Breaches

Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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