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  1. Asked whether you will buy bitcoins, big bull Rakesh Jhunjhunwala answered, "I won't buy it for even $5." In an interview with CNBC International TV, the ace investor said, "Only the sovereign has the right to create currency in the world. Tomorrow people will produce 5 lakh bitcoins, then which currency will go? Something which fluctuates 5-10% a day, can it be considered as currency?" "If a dollar moves 1-2%, it becomes a news, but bitcoin fluctuates 10-15% every day," Jhunjhunwala said. On cryptocurrency trading, he said, "I think it's speculation of the highest order." The veteran investor added, "I am not going to buy even if the price goes up," adding, "I don't want to join every party in the town, so I don't even put my minds on bitcoins." On fear of missing out the crypto fever, he mentioned, "There have been so many times when markets have gone up, but I stayed out. You should only go to the parties you like." "I will never buy bitcoins in my life," he reiterated. A high-level committee earlier suggested that all the private cryptocurrencies, except any virtual currencies issued by state, will be prohibited in India. The central government will take a decision on the recommendation of committee and legislative proposal, the finance minister had said. On whether crypto trading will be banned in India, Jhunjhunwala echoed the same thought. "The power to issue currencies should only be with the state and it should be taken away from others. The biggest sovereign right is to issue currency. The regulator must ban cryptocurrencies in India," he said. Bitcoin tanked as much 18% on Tuesday and traded around $48,750. The selloff puts Bitcoin prices at the lowest in about two weeks. SOURCE
  2. The blockchain system has daunting technical problems to fix. But first, its disciples need to figure out how to govern themselves. It’s late October. Outside the sprawling Prague Congress Centre, not only is the weather turning, but the cryptocurrency world is crashing down, as it has been for much of this year. Expectations for blockchain systems, sky-high just a year ago, are falling nearly as fast as prices for the coins based on them. But inside, the mood is rather different. Here, Devcon—the annual “family reunion” organized by the Ethereum Foundation—is in full swing, and there’s barely a hint of negativity to be found. On the contrary, there is lots of hugging, unicorn-themed clothing, and a sense of excitement about the future. This crowd doesn’t give a damn about what’s happening outside. Whatever’s going on in here, it’s about much more than magic internet money. Ethereum is already the most famous cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and the third largest in total value. Unlike the others, however, it aims to serve as a general-purpose computing platform that could, its adherents believe, make possible entirely new forms of social organization. The central topic of Devcon is “Ethereum 2.0,” a radical upgrade that would finally allow the network to realize its true power. The nagging truth, though, is that all the positivity in Prague masks daunting questions about Ethereum’s future. The handful of idealistic researchers, developers, and administrators in charge of maintaining its software are under increasing pressure to overcome technical limitations that stymie the network’s growth. At the same time, well-funded competitors have emerged, claiming that their blockchains perform better. Crackdowns by regulators, and a growing understanding of how far most blockchain applications are from ready for prime time, have scared many cryptocurrency investors away: Ethereum’s market value in dollars has fallen more than 90% since its peak last January. The reason Devcon feels so upbeat despite these storm clouds is that the people building Ethereum have something bigger in mind—something world-changing, in fact. Yet to achieve its goal, this ragtag community needs to crack a problem as complicated as any of the toe-curling technical challenges it faces: how to govern itself. It must find a way to organize a scattered global network of contributors and stakeholders without sacrificing “decentralization”—the principle, which any cryptocurrency community strives for, that no one entity or group should be in control. Is this even possible? Other blockchain communities, including Bitcoin, have struggled with infighting and gridlock over the kinds of major software upgrades Ethereum is planning. Whether the community can make Ethereum 2.0 happen isn’t just important for crypto speculators and blockchain nerds: it may just go to the very heart of how society is run. The CryptoKitties effect To understand the hype around Ethereum, you first need to understand the hype around blockchains in general, and then what makes Ethereum different. (Skip the next four paragraphs if you already know.) A blockchain is essentially a shared database, stored in multiple copies on computers around the world. These computers are known as “nodes,” and any computer on the internet can become a node in a blockchain network by installing and running specially developed software. What makes a blockchain different from a regular database is that, thanks to the innovative use of cryptography, there is no need for a central authority like a bank or government to maintain it. The nodes run the software, and collectively they make sure every new transaction follows certain rules before adding it to the blockchain. This process, called mining, requires a lot of computing. That makes it very hard to tamper with the blockchain’s record of transactions, since doing so generally depends on controlling most of the network’s mining power, and that would require an enormous expenditure of resources. Hence the ideal blockchain is “decentralized,” i.e., it has lots of independent users so nobody is in control. The first blockchain application was Bitcoin, a system for peer-to-peer payments. Ethereum goes an ambitious step further. Instead of just processing and storing currency transactions, its nodes are supposed to collectively function as a “world computer” on which, using specialized programming languages, people can build applications that are supposed to look and feel much like the ones already on our phones—except no one is in charge of them. These decentralized applications, or “dapps,” might include such things as voting systems, trading markets, or even social networks—imagine a Twitter or Facebook that nobody owns. Being decentralized, they would theoretically be immune to attempts to manipulate them or shut them down. For Ethereum’s most avid believers, these contain the promise of an entirely new kind of democratic society in which it is much harder to concentrate wealth and power, hide corruption, and exert shady, behind-the-scenes influence. A year ago—practically centuries in crypto time—investors were pouring billions of dollars into promising projects building dapps. They invested via initial coin offerings, in which blockchain company founders raise money, crowdfunding-style, by selling digital tokens. Prices for coins, including Ether, Ethereum’s own crypto-token, were soaring. Many of their fans believed blockchains and cryptocurrencies were going to swiftly displace traditional financial intermediaries, upend monopolistic internet companies, and decentralize the web. Then came CryptoKitties. Source
  3. Ethereum 2.0 goes live next month - here's why that's a huge deal The next generation of the Ethereum network is so close we can practically taste it (Image credit: Ethereum Foundation / Liam Cobb) The next generation of the Ethereum blockchain has been in the works for years, but is finally about to come to fruition. As per an Ethereum Foundation blog post, Ethereum 2.0 will now go live on December 1, instead of January 3 2021 as originally planned. The upgrade will see the blockchain transition from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) model to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), whereby participants tie their cryptocurrency to the network as collateral. For the launch of Ethereum 2.0 to take effect, 16,384 validators will need to stake a minimum of 32 ether (the cryptocurrency underpinning the network), which is worth circa $12,800 at current market rates. Meeting this figure will trigger the launch of the Beacon Chain - infrastructure that will facilitate the switch - in what is being described as the Ethereum 2.0 genesis event. “We’ve hardened Ethereum 2.0 as much as we can with simulated test environments, formal verifications and audits,” said Joe Lubin, Ethereum co-founder and CEO at ConsenSys. Ethereum 2.0 Ethereum 2.0 will roll out in phases over the coming months, but the launch of the Beacon chain represents the all-important first step. The most significant change is that the consensus mechanism underpinning the Ethereum blockchain will transition from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), which is generally considered to be a more effective and energy-efficient means of maintaining the network. A basic way to describe the difference is that, in a PoW system, one unit of computational power equates to one unit of mining power. Under PoS, however, one unit of value secures one unit of mining power for the validator. Both systems are designed to incentivize the maintenance of the network, while also ensuring that data held on the blockchain cannot be tampered with. The second main improvement is the introduction of sharding to the Ethereum network (although this will occur as part of a later phase), which means that only a portion of nodes need validate any given transaction, thereby increasing the network’s throughput dramatically. In the past, Ethereum has been criticised for lacking the scalability that would allow it to compete with legacy systems. For context, Visa is thought to process roughly 1,700 transactions per second (TPS), whereas Ethereum 1.0 can only manage a meagre 25 TPS. By effectively dividing the network into lanes, however, the maximum number of TPS processed by the Ethereum 2.0 can be increased by magnitudes. Via CoinDesk Ethereum 2.0 goes live next month - here's why that's a huge deal
  4. The FBI arrested an Ethereum developer in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving for teaching North Korea about cryptocurrency. The Manhattan US Attorney’s office says the 36-year old Virgil Griffith helped North Korea to evade international sanctions. The former hacker and tech idealist has been flirting with disaster for years. The New York Times did an eerily prophetic profile on him in 2008. Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith was arrested for teaching North Korea about crypto. The FBI arrested a 36-year old Ethereum developer from Alabama at the Los Angeles International Airport on Thanksgiving. The Manhattan US Attorney’s office announced Virgil Griffith’s arrest in a press release on Friday. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman alleged: Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions. In allegedly doing so, Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime. Assistant Attorney General John Demers says Griffith went to North Korea to present information including “how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions,” despite “receiving warnings not to go.” Source: Twitter FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. called Griffith’s actions a threat to US national security: There are deliberate reasons sanctions have been levied on North Korea. The country and its leader pose a literal threat to our national security and that of our allies. Mr. Griffith allegedly traveled to North Korea without permission from the federal government, and with knowledge what he was doing was against the law. Griffith has used his tech powers to make trouble for the establishment for years. He created WikiScanner in 2002, which cross-referenced the IP address of Wikipedia editors with a database of IP address owners. That allowed the public to see, for example, edits made to Wikipedia entries from US congressional offices. In an eerily prophetic 2008 profile on Griffith, the New York Times wrote: He was once charged, wide-eyed rumor has it, with sedition. Virgil Griffith’s case brings to mind that of Ross Ulbricht, who founded the Silk Road. Virgil Griffith, the Latest Crypto Martyr The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) is the specific law Griffith is charged with violating. The charge stems from a presentation Griffith made at the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” in North Korea this April. The complaint reads: Pursuant to the IEEPA and Executive Order 13466, United States Persons are prohibited from exporting any goods, services, or technology to the DPRK without a license from Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). Griffith’s case brings to mind that of Ross Ulbricht, who founded the Silk Road, an anonymous, crypto-powered market place. He was sentenced to double life in 2015 for money laundering and other charges. A number of groups filed briefs to appeal his sentence in the Supreme Court. Virgil Griffith is also reminiscent of the late internet “hacktivist,” Aaron Swartz. He faced 13 federal charges in 2011 for downloading academic journal articles from MIT to release to the public. After declining a plea bargain to serve six months in prison, Swartz hanged himself in his apartment in 2013. Griffith’s Defense Could Hinge on Whether or Not ‘Code Is Speech’ But the charges against Virgil Griffith also raise the specter of Daniel J. Bernstein, a Berkeley mathematics Ph.D. student in the 1990s. He sued the government in 1995 for the right to publish an encryption algorithm that the government classified as a “munition” at the time. At the time of publication, there’s not yet any public comment from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Griffith’s case. But the digital civil rights group’s 1996 legal victory in Bernstein v. Department of Justice could come into play for Griffith’s defense. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, in the Northern District of California, established that “code is speech” in her ruling in Bernstein: This court can find no meaningful difference between computer language, particularly high-level languages as defined above, and German or French….Like music and mathematical equations, computer language is just that, language, and it communicates information either to a computer or to those who can read it… While it may be a violation of IEEPA and Executive Order 13466 to export “goods, services, or technology” to North Korea, what if all Griffith exported was speech? That would be protected under the First Amendment. Austin-based Defense Distributed successfully used the “code is speech” precedent to win a settlement from the US Department of State in 2018. The State Department took Defense Distributed to court for publishing files for 3D printed guns online. But shortly before the case went to trial, the government backed down and allowed the files to be published. Source
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