Fuckin' cryptocurrencies, how do they work? Fans of ICP who are fed up with using actual US dollars to pay for all-you-can-slurp Faygo and ethanol cocktails at festivals can rejoice with the news of a new, bitcoin-y cryptocurrency. "According to juggalocoin.org, the currency is designed for the group’s substantial Juggalo community, and is available to purchase now." It was created by a juggalo named Papa Nutt. [Guardian. HT: Dean Putney]
In each episode of Gweek, Dean Putney and I invite a guest to join us in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. Our guest is Andreas M. Antonopoulos. He has founded three bitcoin businesses and is currently the the Chief Security Officer of Blockchain. Dean and I asked him a lot of questions about bitcoin, and his answers were fascinating.
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Davi Barker was flying from Manchester, NH when, he says, he was stopped by two men who identified themselves as "managers" for the TSA, who claimed they had seen Bitcoins in his baggage and wanted to be sure he wasn't transporting more than $10,000 worth. When he asked them what they thought a Bitcoin looked like, they allegedly said that it looked like a coin or a medallion. (via Hacker News)
Tsutomu Okubo, now a member of the Japanese parliament and a former banker at Morgan Stanley, told Ars that he had begun discussing new bitcoin-related regulation with the Financial Services Agency, the Ministry of Finance, and the Bank of Japan a year ago.
"However, their response is that Bitcoin is neither currency nor regulated settlement in Japan," he said by e-mail. "Regarding exchanges like MtGox there is no regulation now."
Above, a gentleman who was unhappy with Apple's decision to remove the Blockchain bitcoin wallet from the iTunes App Store shot holes through his iPhone with a rifle.
• Boing Boing presents a guest op-ed from the the Chief Security Officer of Blockchain, a Bitcoin wallet app recently removed from Apple's App Store.
On Wednesday February 5th, Apple yanked Blockchain, the last remaining bitcoin wallet from the App Store without notice, firmly establishing iOS as the bitcoin-hostile mobile operating system. In a terse email to the app’s developers, Apple cited an “unresolved issue”, without any further explanation. While Blockchain’s developers scrambled to get clarification, it appears the unresolved issue is that the application is a bitcoin wallet, something that cannot be “resolved.” Blockchain was the last of the bitcoin wallets, the others yanked months ago by Apple’s innovation gatekeepers.
Meanwhile, across the mobile market divide, Google’s Android OS is quite bitcoin friendly. More than a hundred bitcoin related apps, including a dozen different wallets, compete for attention in a crowded market. Clearly, Apple’s “unresolved issue” is not related to bitcoin’s legality, which has been firmly established in the US and almost all other jurisdictions. Presumably, Google’s lawyers arrived at the same conclusion as US law enforcement agencies and the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States, that the use of bitcoin is perfectly legal.
Some believe that Apple may be dumping bitcoin wallets because of the emerging, somewhat confusing international regulations surrounding bitcoin. But like others, Blockchain’s Cary argues that his app was pulled because Apple sees bitcoin as a potential competitor. “I think that Apple is positioning itself to take on mobile payments in a way they haven’t described to the public and they’re being anti-competitive.”
Liz writes, "I bet you never wished before that you had handmade soap with a glider from Conway's Game of Life, a doge, or the bitcoin logo on it. It's twee. It's vaguely punk rock. It's cryptocurrency soap!"
Some Bitcoin enthusiasts have announced a new project called Bitcloud. The idea is something like the old Mojo Nation P2P architecture, in which individual Internet users perform tasks for each other -- routing, storage, lookups, computation -- in exchange for very small payments.
The Bitcloud protocol uses Bitcoin-style accounting to allocate those microtransfers, along with Bitcoin-style proof-of-work (they call it "proof-of-bandwidth") and the authors suggest that the potential for profit by individual members will create enough capacity to replace a large number of centralized commercial services ("Youtube, Dropbox, Facebook, Spotify, ISPs") with "distributed autonomous corporations," that obviate the need for centralized control in order to supply anonymous, robust, free services to the public.
The idea is an interesting thought-experiment, at least. The idea of "agorics" -- using market forces to allocate resources on the Internet -- is an old one, and I remain skeptical that this produces optimal outcomes. That's because its proponents seem to treat market efficiency as axiomatic ("everyone knows markets work, and that's why we should make them the basis of network resource allocation") and their proposals are substantially weakened if you don't accept the efficient market hypothesis.
Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 magazine writes, "The HOPE X conference (July 18-20, New York City) is now accepting Bitcoin for preregistration. It's believed this is the first time in North America that any conference (other than a couple of Bitcoin conferences) has accepted the digital currency. Quite a few people have been requesting this for a while - and a hacker conference is exactly the kind of place where such experiments should be tried out. In addition to allowing people to preregister with a minimum of identifying information, it also presents attendees and non-attendees alike with a way of making new projects at the conference possible by donating additional bitcoins if desired. It will be most interesting to see if this method of payment is embraced by HOPE X attendees."
Charlie Stross's Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire presents a set of scorching denunciations of Bitcoin based on its technical, political, and economic demerits. On the way, Stross takes some vicious shots at libertarianism. It's one of those Christmas-season hornet's-nest kickings that are fun to watch -- at a great distance.
Sheep Marketplace -- a Bitcoin-based market that grew sharply after Silk Road shuttered -- was the target of a 96,000 Bitcoin (~£60m) hack last weekend. It turns out that laundering that much Bitcoin is very tricky, and the denizens of r/sheepmarketplace on Reddit have been taking countermeasures against the thieves (or thief) to track and de-anonymize the Bitcoin as it moves through various "tumblers" -- services that obfuscate the origin and destination of Bitcoin fractions. It's an exciting chase across the darknet, full of math, intrigue, and crime.
The malicious programs include YourFreeProxy from Mutual Public, AKA We Build Toolbars, LLC, AKA WBT. YourFreeProxy comes with a program called Monitor.exe, which repeatedly phones home to WBT, eventually silently downloading and installing a Bitcoin mining program called "jhProtominer."
Bitcoin is much more than a money service for illegal operations. It’s a re-imagining of international finance, something that breaks down barriers between countries and frees currency from the control of federal governments. Bitcoin is controlled by open source software that operates according to the laws of mathematics — and by the people who collectively oversee this software. The software runs on thousands of machines across the globe, but it can be changed. It’s just that a majority of those overseeing the software must agree to the change. In short, Bitcoin is kind of like the internet, but for money.