Welcome back to LCR3 and the latest in liberty! This week, we’ve got a debate around privacy, anti-trust legislation and the inevitable conclusion of the broken love affair with big tech; state and national governments lining up on either side of the blockchain wall; and a slew of awesome additional Liberty Crypto content.
Warren v. Zuck
Speculation around Facebookcoin has been running rampant for the last few weeks, in part because the sheer size of Facebook’s footprint makes it an un-ignorable force. Last Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off a new conversation in the cryptosphere when he published a long memo outlining his “privacy-focused vision for social networking.”
I’ll let you read the reactions yourself, but the TL;DR is “we’re not buying it.” Asked about Facebook’s privacy initiatives at last weekend’s MIT Bitcoin Expo, Peter Todd replied: “How do you feel about Hannibal Lecter babysitting your children?”
Those who felt that the memo might have been front running deeper regulatory scrutiny were validated almost immediately as Senator Elizabeth Warren announced proposed anti-trust action against Google, Amazon and Facebook (and later added Apple to the mix).
If nothing else, the Warren proposal has kicked up a huge amount of conversation. A common response has been a critique of the plan itself and the likelihood it makes problems worse not better. Another candidate, meme man himself Andrew Yang argued that more specific ideas like giving users control over data were more likely to be successful. Fred Wilson, meanwhile, argued that the better answer is the inevitable wave of crypto protocols that transform the relationship of platforms to their users and data.
It’s about surveillance, stupid
It seems to me that at the very heart of the growing antagonism towards the big tech companies is the question of data: how it’s sourced, how it’s used, by whom, and who profits. With the occasion of the just-released teaser for “Crypto,” I recently rewatched the trailer for Sandra Bullock’s 1995 “The Net” and already, the paranoia about the amount of data that technology platforms had about us was high. The advent of social networks makes good on the promise of what was once sci-fi, and the battle of surveillance vs. privacy is rising.
Three great pieces of content on that topic this week. First, in the podcast department we have Jill & Meltem’s What Grinds My Gears Episode 10 focusing on surveillance last week, as did the hot-off-the-presses latest from What Bitcoin Did with Amber Baldet. Second, CoinCenter’s Peter Van Valkenberg wrote this essay arguing why it would be unconstitutional to compel developers of anonymous software or decentralized exchanges to enable governments to surveil their users.
Which side of the line is your government on?
I recently tweeted that I thought that the more time passes, the less likely governments are to remain neutral with regards to cryptocurrencies and the more likely they are to divide themselves between those who see crypto as an opportunity - such as to foster innovation, to capture more data, or to attract new business and citizenship revenue - or as a threat that must be stopped.
This past week saw a healthy mix of both. Texas proposed a bill that would effectively ban anonymous use of cryptocurrencies by requiring identity verification to receive transactions. Gotta say, seems sort of off brand for the Lone Star State. Wyoming on the other hand, has successfully passed a huge wave of pro-blockchain legislation, and is being followed by Colorado, which this week signed the Digital Token Act exempting utility tokens from state securities laws, and Utah, which has a proposed bill that would exempt tokens from money transmission laws.
On the national side, the financial head of the French National Assembly called for a ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies and Canada is going fishing with audits on crypto buyers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Argentina has pledged to match investments in local companies participating in the Binance Labs program. Interesting times!
Liberty Quick Hits
A few more before we get outta here.
The newest word in human rights | The Human Rights Foundation has launched a new Medium publication, and kicked it off with a monster introduction to Bitcoin privacy. For those keeping track at home, privacy = a human right.
No Bitcoin without Internet. No Internet without Electricity | Reaching a whole new level of failed-state-ness, Venezuela has been without electricity for days. At first, some thought a dip in Bitcoin transactions was related, although it appears not to have been.
Liberty crypto right here at home | Much of the Liberty Crypto content we post deals with crypto in other places. In this thread, however, financial advisor and genuine good guy Tyrone Ross Jr. connects the dots between an economic cooperative system that developed in the 18th century in the West Indies, minority growth in mobile banking and lending, and crypto.
It’s a Trap(door)! | eVoting: panacea of efficient citizen participation or newest tool for tyrants? As I was writing this, I saw that Sarah Jamie Lewis of Open Privacy was reporting that she and a partner had found a cryptographic trapdoor that would enable vote altering in the Swiss Post evoting system that had been claimed to be up to snuff for national elections. Whoops.
#IWD2019 | Last Friday was International Women’s Day. Highly recommend this report from Coinbase about the liberating force crypto represents for women who are marginalized around the world.