tl;dr Bitcoin works, at least for fast transactions
Time will tell whether the gold bugs or the skeptics are right, but what’s being overlooked is that it doesn’t matter whether Bitcoin makes it as a store of value or a unit of account for it to work as a medium of exchange. Even if the Bitcoin market remains volatile and never pans out as a good store of value or unit of account, one can imagine users converting their dollars or euros to bitcoins for just long enough to make a transaction; perhaps just minutes. And as long as it works as a medium of exchange, it is the true digital cash that was missing from the cypherpunks’ predictions.
With a little bit of effort, today you can purchase bitcoins anonymously with physical cash. You could then do all sorts of things the government doesn’t want you to do. You could buy illegal drugs on the notorious Silk Road, an encrypted website that has been operating with impunity for the past two years facilitating annual sales estimated at almost $15 million. You could gamble at various casinos or prediction markets, buy contraband Cuban cigars, or even give money to WikiLeaks. Dissidents in Iran or China can use Bitcoin to buy premium blogging services from WordPress, which now accepts payment in the currency. Perhaps more importantly, Bitcoin makes the cypherpunks predictions of markets for stolen secret information and even assassinations feasible.
Last month, the Treasury Department issued guidance on how it plans to regulate Bitcoin exchanges. This is good news for the currency since it implies the government is looking to regulate its use rather than prohibit it. Confronted with Bitcoin’s potential, it’s not reasonable to expect that Treasury’s money laundering cops would simply let it be. So it’s a sensible approach for them to take because Bitcoin, much like BitTorrent, can be used for both licit and illicit purposes and would in any event be difficult to shut down.
James Goodale has a message for journalists: Wake up. In his new book, Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013), Goodale, chief counsel to The New York Times when its editors published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, argues that President Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was.
The Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, a course critics say is overly aggressive. Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote in a March op-ed that the administration “has a particular, chilling intolerance” for those who leak. If the Obama administration indicts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, Goodale argues, the president will have succeeded where Nixon failed by using the act to “end-run” the First Amendment.
Goodale spoke with CJR about why he chose to write about the Pentagon Papers now and what he sees as the key threats to press freedom today. The conversation has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. Fighting for the Press comes out on April 30.
During Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense against Palestinians in Gaza last November, Anonymous hackers launched a mass attack on Israeli government websites. In response to the eight day assault that killed 133 Palestinians, Anonymous’ #OpIsrael defaced thousands of Israeli sites and provided information for Gazans facing Internet and communications blackouts. 60 million hacking attempts were reportedly made.
Last week, Israeli airstrikes once again hit targets in Gaza, officially breaking a ceasefire established last November (although cross-border clashes have informally breached the ceasefire in recent months, leaving four Palestinians dead). In retaliation, Anonymous relaunched #OpIsrael this weekend, and according to an Anonymous spokesperson offering a partial damage report, 60,000 websites, 40,000 Facebook pages, 5,000 twitter accounts and 30,000 Israeli bank accounts got hacked, causing an estimated $3-plus billion damage, the hacker collective claim. “Not bad for 24 hours,” Anonymous noted.
A Facebook glitch briefly took down a large number of sites that use the social network’s login credentials on Thursday — highlighting just how wide Facebook’s reach has become.The glitch lasted a few minutes and affected only those who were logged into Facebook at the time. But there were widespread reports of users having trouble getting to sites such as Gawker, CNN, Mashable and, yes, The Washington Post. When users tried to visit those sites, they were sent to a Facebook page that displayed an error. To get around the bug, users had to log out of the social network.
Facebook released a short statement after the outage, saying, “For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people from third party sites integrated with Facebook to Facebook.com. The issue was quickly resolved.”The company has yet to provide further information about the flaw or say how many Web sites may have been affected.While the outage was a short-lived problem with a fairly quick work-around, some sites with Facebook integration may find it troubling that a flaw in Facebook’s code could affect so many users.
“No survivors? Then where do the stories come from, I wonder?” (img by Maclean’s)
tl;dr Canada is about to illegalize ripping music/content conversion and instate a blank media tax.
After months of review, it looks like the Harper government’s copyright reform bill will likely become law before Parliament’s summer recess.
Bill C-11 passed a final vote at third reading on Monday night, bringing Canadians one step closer to SOPA-like regulation of their media consumption. According to the CBC, the bill was immediately introduced to the Senate after passing the vote, and will likely be sped through the Senate review process, meaning it stands a good chance of becoming law in the coming month.
Regular readers of The Right Click are likely quite familiar with what the copyright bill will mean to Canadians: Bill C-11 would allow rights holders to include ‘digital locks’ on their content, which includes music, video, e-books and software. Users can make copies for personal backups, but all other duplication could result in fines for doing so. (more…)
Broadcasters anticipating a major constitutional ruling on the government’s authority to regulate what can be shown and said on the airwaves instead won only the smallest of Supreme Court victories Thursday.
The justices unanimously threw out fines and other penalties against Fox and ABC television stations that violated the Federal Communications Commission policy regulating curse words and nudity on television airwaves.
Forgoing a broader constitutional ruling, however, the court concluded only that broadcasters could not have known in advance that obscenities uttered during awards show programs on Fox stations and a brief display of nudity on an episode of ABC’s “NYPD Blue” could give rise to penalties. ABC and 45 affiliates had been hit with proposed fines totaling nearly $1.24 million.
Broadcasters had argued that the revolution in technology that has brought the Internet, satellite television and cable has made the rules themselves obsolete. The regulations apply only to broadcast channels. (more…)
Bruce Schneier’s a security specialist with his own Internet meme. And while most people believe that technology elevates, improves things, Schneier holds that technology magnifies, makes things bigger, good and…