Australia Has Gone Mad

Australia Puts the Nail in the Coffin

Australia Puts the Nail in the Coffin

In confidence-shaking news (that unfortunately is not so new to its residents), Australia has just passed a bill approving nation-wide surveillance of user data, social media, and devices by law enforcement. The bill titled, “The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020” will now give the Australian Federal Police the following warrant rights:  

  1. Data disruption warrant: gives the police the ability to "disrupt data" by modifying, copying, adding, or deleting it.

  2. Network activity warrant: allows the police to collect intelligence from devices or networks that are used, or likely to be used, by those subject to the warrant.

  3. Account takeover warrant: allows the police to take control of an online account (e.g. social media) for the purposes of gathering information for an investigation.

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor recommended many amendments to the bill, but some went ignored, including the call for a higher threshold of the severity of crimes these warrants can be applied to, and for the warrants to be approved by a judge.

The bill was rejected by the Greens, which said the legislation is another step on the “road to a surveillance state”. It seems more accurate to say that Australia is “Surveillance City” at this stage, rather than just on the road there.

Privacy organizations across the world are outraged. The Human Rights Law Centre condemns the act and the speed at which it was rushed through Parliament stating, “It is alarming that, instead of accepting the Committee’s recommendations and allowing time for scrutiny of subsequent amendments, the Morrison Government rushed these laws through Parliament in less than 24 hours."

Senator Lidia Thorpe, the Greens spokesperson for Justice, summarized the bill as follows:

"In effect, this Bill would allow spy agencies to modify, copy, or delete your data with a data disruption warrant; collect intelligence on your online activities with a network activity warrant; also they can take over your social media and other online accounts and profiles with an account takeover warrant."

If this weren’t bad enough, news outlets started reporting yesterday that the Australian federal government is also planning to de-anonymize the internet, and introduce a social credit system to combat "online abuse". Under this rule, people would have to show ID in order to use the internet, and police would have access to individuals' social media accounts, which would now be linked to their passports.

Australia won’t be the last country to fall victim to Big Brother. If these plans go into effect, it will set a terrifying precedent, and an opportunity for a power grab that other governments will likely find difficult to pass up.

The decentralized internet can not come soon enough.

Ain’t Nuttin but a DAO Thing

Snoop Dogg has long been involved in the crypto space:

And now he’s announced a new investment in the future of decentralized blockchain technology. In a release by Syndicate earlier this week, the rapper was listed amongst 150 venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and celebrities who now have a stake in the company’s community-based investment system that will simplify the process of creating Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO’s).

The Series A funding round, led by venture capital firm a16z, has successfully raised $20 million dollars towards the build-out of the massive tooling needed to get the project started and the formation of a legal team.

DAOs are a way to decentralize trust, using a public blockchain to lock-up funds and give a group of participants the opportunity to share decisions on how those funds should be used, in a transparent manner. The success of this Series A funding round enthusiastically represents a green light from the mainstream investors. “We hope that in the future, Syndicate is going to redefine what investing is and what it means,” said co-founder Ian Lee in an interview.

Companies building cool things are great.

Decentralized companies building cool things are even better.

“Crypto Dad” leaves BlockFi

Former chairman of the CFTC, Chris Giancarlo, has stepped down from the Board of Directors at BlockFi. Colloquially known as “Crypto Dad”, Giancarlo is leaving after four months on the job as the company’s only independent board member. As of this writing, no official reason has been established for his sudden departure. Via a press release, BlockFi announced his position has been filled by finance executive Ellen-Blair Chube, and that Mr. Giancarlo “... will continue to provide strategic counsel to the firm in an advisory role.” 

This event is reminiscent of Brian Brooks’ sudden departure from Binance.US just one month ago - whose reasons for leaving were also curiously vague. With no official statements to shine more light on the subject, one can only speculate about what exactly is happening behind the scenes at these giant companies that would cause such seasoned regulators to sign on and then suddenly jump ship. 

Gary Gensler is Technology Neutral (Technically)

SEC Chair, Gary Gensler, said Wednesday that he does not believe that cryptocurrencies can survive outside of a regulatory framework:

“If it’s going to have any relevance five and ten years from now, it’s going to be within a public policy framework.”

Gensler has officially labeled himself as “technology neutral”, however his continued crackdown “in the name of consumer protection” against platforms such as LBRY, where no consumers have filed any complaints, makes his self-identification suspect.

He said platforms should be “asking for permission” rather than “begging for forgiveness”, which reiterates some previous comments about how innovators should essentially stop pushing boundaries. His remarks, Erik Voorhees responded, represented “the very opposite of the best elements of American spirit”.

One could even argue it’s the opposite of the best elements of human spirit.

Gensler, who is currently the default “crypto expert” in Washington (because he taught a course on Blockchains at MIT) seems to have missed the point of crypto altogether. 

Crypto is and always was meant to be what the US dollar isn’t -- money by the people and for the people. With the continued decline in value of the US dollar, crypto is an alternative for free people who voluntarily choose NOT to participate in the traditional financial system, but Gensler seems adamant to shoehorn it back in.

To quote Gensler in his own words in this Financial Times interview, “Finance is about trust”, and right now the traditional financial system simply doesn’t have ours.

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

In some pretty strong words, billionaire John Paulson (who famously called the US housing market crash in 2008) has called bitcoin a bubble “... that will eventually prove to be worthless”. 

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone invest in cryptocurrencies,” he continued, in an interview on Bloomberg TV

When asked about what investments he does prefer, he listed gold, stating that it, “...does very well in times of inflation” because of its limited supply.

“As inflation picks up, people try and get out of fixed income. They try and get out of cash. And the logical place to go is gold. But because the amount of money trying to move out of cash and fixed income dwarfs the amount of investable gold, the supply and demand imbalance causes gold to rise”. 

But Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed in the past few years, because people increasingly consider the new asset class, with its limited supply of 21 million, to be a hedge against inflation and a store of value.

Paulson disagrees that there is any inherent value of bitcoin, saying that it’s “ a limited supply of nothing”.

Ouch.

While Paulson may have schooled many on the housing crash, it seems he needs a lesson in the concept of subjective value.

By Will Sandoval, NBTV Associate Producer, and Naomi Brockwell.


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