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The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations.
Section 2 : The Moral Imperative of Privacy
Chapter 4: When Privacy is Criminalized, Only Criminals will be Private
by Wendy McElroy
Is Privacy Possible in the Digital Era? (Chapter 4, Part 3)
Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual … the right “to be let alone” … Numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that “what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops.”
— Louis Brandeis
What is privacy? Simple images come to mind, like slamming a door in the face of a census taker, but the question unlocks a complex issue.
Perhaps the most famous answer comes from an article by the American attorneys Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, which appeared in a 1890 issue of the Harvard Law Review. It was one of the most influential articles in the history of legal theory. “The Right to Privacy” is considered to be the first prominent call for privacy as a concept to be cemented into law. It opened: “THAT the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection.” Elsewhere, privacy is defined as the right to be left alone.
The article argued for privacy as a “foundational” or basic human right, upon which all other rights depended. “The right of property in its widest sense… including all rights and privileges, and hence embracing the right to an inviolate personality, affords alone that broad basis upon which the protection which the individual demands can be rested.” No right is more basic than privacy; freedom of speech, sexuality, freedom of conscience, and financial security depend upon it because none could exist in the presence of storm troopers smashing through your bedroom door. The right to close your door is paramount.
Interestingly, the Brandeis-Warren article was in response to technological developments that were seen to threaten personal privacy, much as the internet and blockchain are seen to threaten it today. One of those developments was the portable camera with which journalists photographed prominent people in venues that were formerly private, such as restaurants, weddings, and funerals. Today, the focus of privacy rights has shifted from rude journalists to the rude government for which “privacy” is a synonym for “secrecy.” The government regards privacy as a smoke-screen for criminal acts, especially tax evasion. The shift is probably a function of how powerful and massive government has become, compared to the 1890s.
Although privacy rights have been a theme in common law and, so, a strong theme within Anglo-American societies, their legal status has been vague. Indeed, before “The Right to Privacy,” the legal expression of the right was splintered. There were laws against trespassing, for example, but being safe from the invasion of property and home is only one aspect of privacy. The codifying of the broad concept of privacy is more difficult.
After all, what does the “right to be left alone” mean? Everyone knows a woman’s purse should not be snatched or a house broken into. But these are easy cases, and not the ones cryptocurrency users will confront; they must deal with their personal information being mined, and then being used against them.
The blockchain’s ledger of transfers allows uninvited parties to eavesdrop on financial and other information that has been voluntarily made public — at least, to some degree. What should the legal status of eavesdropping be? If someone overhears a personal conversation in a public place and he repeats the content, does the act infringe anyone’s right to “be left alone?” What if the eavesdropper uses the information to advantage, for example, by acting on a stock tip? What if he uses the data to blackmail? Is there a right to legally restrain the eavesdropper?
The Bottom Line of Privacy
The iconic libertarian Murray Rothbard argued that all human rights devolve to property rights; that is, they come down to the question of who properly controls the use of something, anything: a widget, an idea, information, your body. It is always possible to use force and usurp control, of course, but who is the proper owner in a peaceful society? It is the individual who acquires valid title through production, trade, or other peaceful means. There is no more clear or valid title than the one individuals have to the use and protection of their own bodies, which includes their personal information.
This right is under concerted attack by the biggest eavesdropper in human history–and one that intends to use the data against you with extreme prejudice. Government wants to access and control personal information in order to own the power of its content–that is, to use the power of your identity against you. It registers babies at birth; it pathologically chronicles everyone’s financial, medical, and educational status; it requires official paperwork at all junctures of life, including death. It does not matter if the person has done no harm and he is accused of no crime. The government’s purpose is control. Individuals who do not meekly acquiesce to being controlled are criminals.
One reason government succeeds at stealing information is that privacy is an ill-defined concept that people do not understand; if they did, they might value it more. Privacy hinges on two questions. As a place to start asking them, consider the right to control of your own thoughts and their expression. (Privacy consists of more than this ability, of course, but it is a springboard point.)
Question #1: Who owns what is in your mind? Most people would loudly declare “no one owns what’s in my mind!” Your thoughts are yours for the same reason that you own your fingers and eyes; they are part of your body; they are an integral part of who you are. But what if the thought in your mind is a chemical formula that you accidentally glimpsed? The instant you glimpsed the formula, it began to change by integrating with every other thought you have on chemistry and life. Do you own the altered formula that is now in your mind? If you do, then can you market it over the protest of the chemist who perfected it? If not, why not?
The parallel to financial information: if someone has financial assets, such as a sack of gold, then the information is properly private, but only as long as it is unrevealed. The problem with cryptocurrencies — at least, for this paradigm of privacy — is that all transactions are revealed.
Question #2: Who owns information that is now part of another person’s mind? Who owns information that has been made public? The 19th century libertarian James Walker stated, “My thoughts are my property as the air in my lungs is my property…” But what if you exhale? What if you willingly throw ideas or information into a public realm, like the internet or the blockchain?
If information sharing comes with a nondisclosure contract, then there is no problem; the originator retains rightful possession. But reality isn’t usually like that. Most violations of personal information are involuntary, such as being registered at birth and assigned a government tracking number for life. Some result from a transaction in which a naive person exchanges data with a corporation for a free subscription or the like.
The glut of personal information in the public sphere returns to the title of this article: Is Privacy Possible in the Digital Era? The answer is “yes.”
As long as the old paradigm of privacy is used — that is, privacy = concealment — then the transparency of the blockchain is a death knell. But what if privacy now equals transparency, and the focus of protection is not on the transaction but on the identities of actors? This is a new and purer paradigm of privacy. For the sake of honesty and equitable trade, do not hide any transaction. For the sake of privacy, do not require the identities of actors anymore than grocery stores require ID of those who buy milk with cash. Then, let everyone see; let everyone verify. Both honesty and privacy can be preserved. The key is to keep your identity private—own what is in your mind, and in no one else’s—while allowing the information to be public as a proof of honesty.
Of course, there is a catch. How does anyone protect identity while making an open transaction? The solution to privacy is often painted as the problem. “Technology destroys privacy” is a common sentiment. The opposite is true.
Consider a small aspect of how to preserve privacy: encryption. Encryption is the process of coding and decoding information.
The idea and its importance to privacy is not new. It played a key role in the founding of America. Before Confederation, the Founding Fathers attacked the existing post office because the British used it as a censorship machine. After Confederation, some Founders did much the same thing. The Continental Congress wanted to declare some political material “unmailable” because it was deemed to be dangerous. A prime target was anti-Federalist letters and periodicals; the anti-Federalists fought many aspects of the Constitution, and they effectively blocked ratification unless the document included a Bill of Rights. During the intense debates, they simply could not circulate their material through the Federalist-controlled post office. Many of them, including Thomas Jefferson, resorted to corresponding in code.
The American government has always realized the political importance of controlling the flow of information. In the 1770s, communication may have occurred through postal routes maintained by horseback riders, while today, we communicate through packets of data beamed across optical cables. This difference is irrelevant to the principles involved. The key questions are: “Who owns your words and ideas?”; “Who has the right to read them?”; “Who owns your personal information?”
Few rights are as important as financial privacy because wealth is the way people feed themselves. The attacks on privacy are intensifying because government realizes the stakes; after all, your wealth is also the way government feeds itself.
The new paradigm of privacy is transparency without identity. But it works only if people protect their identities at every turn. Never willingly give personal data to government, to exchanges, or to the corporations that are government proxies.
Privacy is a human right, but it is a right you can surrender in the much the same manner as you can surrender your claim to a pile of cash by throwing it into the wind. In a word: don’t.
[To be continued next week.]
Thanks to editor/novelist Peri Dwyer Worrell for proofreading assistance.
Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters
Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.
The post The Satoshi Revolution – Chapter 4: Is Privacy Possible in the Digital Era? (Part 3) appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Kim Jong Un may have delivered a defiant New Year’s Day address railing against the United States, but his weak voice during the speech may show the despot is suffering from “a kidney problem,” an audio forensic expert said Tuesday.
This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.
Propy, the world’s first international real-estate marketplace, has just launched the alpha open version of its blockchain-based transaction tool. This new transaction tool will allow individuals to buy and sell properties in California using Bitcoin (BTC).
Propy is delighted to announce that the alpha open version of its real estate transaction tool is now up and running. Propy, which believes that it is the first international real-estate marketplace in the world, leverages groundbreaking blockchain technology to solve many of the problems relating to purchasing property across borders. It allows users to purchase property online, and is an excellent outlet for quickly transferring bitcoin wealth into hard assets.
The advent of Propy is great news for the crypto millionaires, crypto traders, and blockchain application enthusiasts looking for a platform that will provides real benefits to them by making it easier to diversify investment through real estate purchase. In addition to increasing real estate turnover by reducing the execution time, it will also minimize the risk of dishonest record keeping in mortgage processing significantly. No wonder Propy has already been touted by various advocates as the Amazon of real estate.
Propy initially includes blockchain hashes of the deals into title deeds for recording in official land registries and then offers land registries to replace their databases with the decentralized Propy blockchain registry. The Propy team envisions that, ultimately, the Propy Registry will be adopted by many jurisdictions as an official ledger of record. The execution of each purchase on Propy will involve the use of PRO tokens to unlock smart contracts.
Some key attributes of Propy include:
Facilitates cross-border payments for users and assists with their documentation
Allows users to search for properties and brokers in global cities in their native language. Also, provides broad information about neighborhoods, such as walkability, air- and noise-pollution and green building certifications.
Integrates a blockchain ledger for governments to enable title deed issuance for properties instantly online, in a secure and cost-effective manner.
Propy recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Ukraine and completed a transaction in which a property in Ukraine’s capital Kiev was remotely transferred on-chain and across borders, which Propy believes is historic for the entire Ethereum community. With the launch of its new transaction tool, Propy will now make it possible to buy and sell properties in California for BTC by following a simple nine-step process. Payment in dollars will be available next year.
Within its brief lifespan, Propy has already garnered the attention of top real estate experts. Expressing high expectations about the future of Propy, Andrew Baum, Chairman of the investment committee for CBRE stated, “It would be an enormous step forward if global real estate transactions were to be facilitated by a reliable, automated land registration and transfer system. Propy’s proposed use of blockchain might just offer the key that opens this door.”
The trendsetting media BuzzFeed also mentioned Propy recently, describing it as one of emerging businesses capable of “bringing transparency and security” to real estate markets.
Following the launch of its transaction tool, Propy is planning to start within the next week an education program for local brokers in California via demos and meet-ups. The company is also looking to start a comprehensive marketing campaign aimed at attracting actual home buyers. The team is currently working on a marketing plan that will be made public in January 2018. A substantial scaling of transactions is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2018.
Propy is inviting all buyers or sellers of homes (in cryptocurrencies) to contact them via Telegram & Reddit. To find out more about the world’s first international real-estate marketplace, please visit http://propy.com/
About Propy: Propy is the world’s first international real-estate marketplace. The team at Propy.com facilitates connections between international entities to enable the seamless purchase of international real estate online for the first time. It aims to solve the problems facing international real estate transactions by creating a novel unified property store and asset transfer platform for the global real estate industry.
This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.
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For households rushing to prepay property taxes before a new cap on deductions takes effect, the IRS released some good news Wednesday: In many cases, it will allow such a maneuver.
That had been up for debate, because the new tax law was silent on such a scenario, even though it specifically prohibits…
South Korea’s top financial regulators have clarified their position following reports by local media that they have been considering a possible ban on all cryptocurrency transactions, particularly bitcoin.
Regulators Discuss the Extent of Regulation
Reports circulated on Friday that South Korean regulators are considering banning all kinds of cryptocurrency transactions. Hankyung publication, for example, quoted a government official saying: “We are actively considering ways to prohibit transactions on domestic exchanges by judging virtual currency trading as a deceptive means of deceiving people and similar currency transactions.”
On Monday, Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Choi Jong-ku clarified to reporters in a lunch meeting that “the FSC is mapping out measures to restrict [cryptocurrency] transactions to some extent,” which he did admit include “an all-out ban,” Yonhap reported. “The restriction is aimed at minimizing side effects of bitcoin transactions and reducing speculative investment,” the news outlet added. Choi was then quoted by Asia Economy:
We are discussing to what extent the government will regulate the trade, including the prohibition of trade.
Outright Ban Needs Legal Grounds – Ministries Divided
The chairman noted that the Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing measures to regulate cryptocurrencies. News.Bitcoin.com reported last week on this ministry being put in charge of a new Virtual Currency Task Force in order to “set up and implement the regulatory measures through consultation between the related ministries.”
FSC vice chairman Kim Yong-beom, who is part of the task force, was quoted on Monday by Joongang Daily:
There is an opinion that we should hurry to ban virtual currency transactions within the task force, but we will analyze the legal basis and the market impact in a comprehensive way.
Choi confirmed that “there must be legal grounds (to prohibit all transactions).” In addition, the publication pointed out that “it is known that there is a great difference between ministries on whether there is a legal basis for prohibiting all transactions.”
Not First Discussion of Regulating Exchanges
The Virtual Currency Task Force includes not only the financial sector but also the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Fair Trade Commission, the National Tax Service, and the National Police Agency, Maekyung detailed. “The Ministry of Justice wants strong trade regulations, but the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Supervisory Commission are said to be hesitant,” the publication noted.
Kim was quoted saying, “The Finance Ministry mainly focuses on preventing institutional finance companies from jumping into virtual currency transactions.”
This is also not the first time South Korean regulators have suggested restricting bitcoin transactions. In November, news.Bitcoin.com reported on the FSC proposing to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges, suggesting that they “will be required to maintain standards for consumer protection.”
Reiterating the regulators’ earlier plans to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges, Yonhap conveyed:
It is expected that the government measures related to virtual currency will not be a one-sided regulation that prohibits virtual currency trading altogether, but a regulation that limits investment amount and investment qualification.
Do you think South Korea will ban all bitcoin transactions? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Korea Herald, the Investor, and Yonhap.
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Federal Reserve officials generally believe that it’ll soon be time for another increase in the Fed’s key interest rate. However, a few felt any further rate hikes should be delayed until they see inflation moving higher, minutes of their last meeting revealed.
Minutes of the Fed’s Oct. 31-Nov….
Just a few decades ago, small businesses in California often banded together to buy health insurance on the premise that a bigger pool of enrollees would get them a better deal.
California’s dairy farmers did it; so did car dealers and accountants.
But after a string of these “association health…
Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia have reportedly netted its first charges.
Is he or isn’t he? The answer appears to be “Yes.” In an interview with Vanity Fair , Joe Biden gave an intriguing answer to the question of whether he plans a 2020 White House run. “I haven’t decided to run,” he said, “but I’ve decided I’m not going to decide…
It’s hard to know for sure, but President Trump may save a pretty penny if his administration’s “once in a generation” tax proposal goes into effect, despite Trump insisting earlier this week the plan is “not good for me.” The New York Times put Trump’s estimated net worth of $ 2….