April 25, 2014

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9 Problems of Government Hacking: Why IT-Systems Deserve Constitutional Protection

Governments around the world are increasingly hacking into IT-systems. But for every apparent benefit, government hacking creates deeper problems. Time to unpack 9 of them, and to discuss one unique perspective: in response to a proposed hacking law in 2008, the German Constitutional Court created a new human right protecting the ‘confidentiality and integrity of IT-systems’. The rest of the world should follow suit, and outlaw government hacking until its deep problems are addressed. [Read more...]

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“E agora José?” The current status of Marco Civil da Internet

I hope non-Brazilian readers will forgive me, but I could not find a better expression to summarize the current situation of the Brazilian Marco Civil da Internet. “E agora, José?” The expression can be translated into English as “What now, José?”, and is quite popular in Brazil, having its origin in a famous poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987). Although it might carry different meanings, this expression is mainly used in hard times, when people are challenged by a situation in which desirable or ideal solutions just seem impossible. When puzzled by a conundrum, one might say: “E agora, José?”.

Here I will try to explain why I do think that the Marco Civil is facing such a situation. [Read more...]

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Are User Identification Networks the Future of Commercial Bitcoin Transactions?

With 12.3 million bitcoins mined to date, the total value of bitcoins has reached $9.975 billion US dollars. While this may pale in comparison to the $1.23 trillion US dollars in circulation, the use of bitcoins in commerce is gaining traction.  With this traction the potential exists to link users’ identities with their public bitcoin wallet addresses and commercial transaction histories.

Earlier this year Overstock.com announced that it would begin accepting bitcoins as payment for consumer purchases. The company’s announcement makes Overstock.com the first major US online retailer to accept bitcoins, albeit via a third-party payment processor. Prior to this announcement, a patchwork of smaller online vendors and brick-and-mortar stores had already begun accepting bitcoins. Using bitcoins, individuals are now able to order food for delivery, engage in online dating , and purchase everything from babyfood to videogame consoles.

As bitcoins enter the stream of commerce, we should all consider the privacy implications associated with the use of bitcoins in commercial transactions.   [Read more...]

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Understanding Bitcoin’s transaction malleability problem

In recent days, several Bitcoin exchanges have suspended certain kinds of payments due to “transaction malleability” issues. There has been a lot of talk about why this happened, and some finger-pointing. In this post, I will try to unpack what “transaction malleability” is and why it has proven to be a problem for some companies.
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