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Cryptocurrency needs government’s help, says presidential hopeful Andrew Yang – CNET

Andrew Yang, son of an IBM researcher and university systems administrator, is a techno-savvy candidate for president. What’s with the MATH hat? He told CNBC: “One of my supporters said something to me — that the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.” Alex Wong/Getty Images Cryptocurrency is now an official…

Cryptocurrency needs government’s help, says presidential hopeful Andrew Yang – CNET
Andrew Yang, son of an IBM researcher and university systems administrator, is a techno-savvy candidate for president. What's with the MATH hat? He told CNBC:

Andrew Yang, son of an IBM researcher and university systems administrator, is a techno-savvy candidate for president. What’s with the MATH hat? He told CNBC: “One of my supporters said something to me — that the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.”


Alex Wong/Getty Images

Cryptocurrency is now an official issue in the US presidential election.

You’re probably most familiar with cryptocurrency by way of bitcoin, which soared in value in 2017 then mostly collapsed in 2018. But the technology spreads far beyond that, and presidential candidate Andrew Yang says now’s the time for clearer government rules to encourage its development in the US.

Yang, a tech entrepreneur and now one of at least 18 Democratic challengers to Donald Trump, is far from the frontrunner for an election that’s still a year and a half away. But the fact that he’s weighing in at all shows that cryptocurrency and related technology, like blockchain, isn’t just an obsession of crypto-anarchists who want a high-tech alternative to a safe full of Krugerrands.

If Yang gets his way, cryptocurrencies could become more useful and move beyond early problems like initial coin offering (ICO) scams and criminal payment uses. Maybe they’ll even be something you use in your daily life.

Today’s rules, including federal and some state laws, have had “a chilling effect on the US digital asset market,” and laws haven’t kept up with cryptocurrency developments, Yang said in policy paper published Thursday. “Uncertainty in what regulatory framework will develop is causing US investment in the area to lag behind the investment of other countries.”

http://www.cnet.com/


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Cryptocurrencies are far more complicated than the rise and fall of bitcoin. People have mostly treated them as assets to invest or speculate in. Cryptocurrencies can also serve a purpose similar to plain old money used to buy and sell things, or to store value.

The accounting mechanism behind cryptocurrencies, called blockchain, can be used for all sorts of record keeping, like the sale of houses or the tracking of inventory. “The blockchain has vast potential,” Yang wrote.

Yang: Not every crypto asset is a security

Yang argues that US regulations must differentiate between cryptocurrencies used as money and cryptocurrencies used as securities, like company stock, that you can invest in. He also calls for consumer protections for cryptocurrency transactions, as well as simpler tax rules for buying and selling digital assets.

Today, the IRS treats cryptocurrency largely as a security. If you buy some cryptocurrency and it rises in value, you have to pay tax on any profits you make when you sell it. That tax treatment is at odds with the idea that cryptocurrency can function as money.

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Though Yang shows a certain enthusiasm for cryptocurrency issues, at least compared with his Democratic rivals, that doesn’t mean everybody in the cryptocurrency world is a fan. One person’s clear regulation and consumer protection is another person’s government meddling.

For example, one person in Reddit’s cryptocurrency forum assessed Yang’s cryptocurrency proposal as an effort to “tax it to oblivion” and require us to report all past and current cryptocurrency holdings to the IRS.

Andrew Yang, cryptocurrency candidate

Yang had already staked out a claim as the cryptocurrency candidate in his 2018 announcement, in which he said he’d accept donations in bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies. The process isn’t simple, though, and requires “a 15-minute phone call with a member of the compliance team.”

Meanwhile, Yang also would like to see the US get rid of a financial instrument he sees as obsolete: the penny.

Andrew Yang

Yang during an interview at CNET in March.


Jesse Orrall/CNET

“It costs more to make a penny than it is worth,” which means taxpayers have to pay $70 million a year, Yang argues. “Getting rid of them will save us money and time. Good for the environment too.”

Yang, the son of an IBM researcher and university systems administrator, is a techno-savvy candidate. In an interview at CNET in March, Yang discussed everything from drones to deplatforming people on social media to Trump’s Space Force. Among other technology related stances in his policy positions, Yang wants to:

  • Create a Department of Technology to regulate AI from its headquarters in Silicon Valley.
  • Pay all adults $1,000 a month in a universal basic income designed to “prevent the massive disruption” that’s coming as technology like AI automates people’s jobs.
  • Restore net neutrality through FCC oversight of internet service providers.
  • Shift to new security algorithms that quantum computers can’t crack and research those potentially radical machines to “develop our own systems ahead of our geopolitical rivals.”
  • Modernize the US electrical grid, with smart meters in houses and tariffs to encourage renewable energy.
  • Pay for body cameras on all police officers.
  • Move to a value-added tax system, common in other countries, which Yang believes will function better as technology automates today’s jobs.
  • Combat climate change by investing in technology to capture carbon dioxide and geoengineering, such as attempts to have the atmosphere reflect more of the sun’s energy back into space. He also is in favor of nuclear energy.
  • Invest in more technology to monitor border security.
  • Appoint a news ombudsman to find and banish fraudulent accounts on social media in order to curb misinformation and foreign intervention in elections.

It’ll be difficult to finding political consensus on any of those issues, much less to win an election on them. But as the digital revolution spreads to every corner of our lives, expect more politicians to acquire Yang’s taste for tech.

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Cryptocurrency

US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened. Significant legal…

US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened.

Significant legal action against alleged operators of pirate sites have traditionally been carried out with great fanfare.

However, a case underway in federal court in Oregon is a very different beast, particularly given its scale and form.

The case filed in the district court May 6, 2019, reveals the United States government seeking forfeiture of around $4 million dollars worth of cash and cryptocurrency seized on the basis that the owner of the property was involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering.

The investigation reportedly began in October 2013 when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information from PayPal concerning two websites, Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com, that allowed subscribers to stream movies and TV shows.

HSI reported these sites to the MPAA which conducted an investigation, concluding that the sites and associated domains Noobroom and Noobroom9 distributed works in breach of its members’ copyrights. Revenue was reportedly generated by subscriptions processed through Stripe and via adverts placed by a company called Lanista Concepts.

In July 2014, the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist notice to Noobroom. Five days later a covert Noobroom user account operated by the Hollywood group received a message advising users that their accounts had been moved to a new website at SuperChillin.com.

After downloading movies from SuperChillin, the MPAA was able to link an IP address to an individual identified as Talon White. The suspect was subsequently linked to two additional sites – movietv.co and Sit2Play.com – which were deemed to be near identical copies of each other. The registrant of Sit2Play was listed as Talon White and an associated email address was determined as belonging to him.

HSI’s investigation continued from 2016 to November 2018 when search and seizure warrants were executed. A declaration by Keith Druffel, a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, reads as follows;

“Based on financial records obtained during the investigation, I determined that White received substantial revenue from the above-listed websites,” Druffel writes.

“In 2018, he was averaging revenue over $500,000 per month. In 2017, White received over $2.2 million. In 2016, White received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, White received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue.”

According to Druffel, subscribers of the sites paid via PayPal or Stripe, payments that were deposited into bank accounts controlled by White. Information provided by Stripe matched White’s personal information and the account was labeled as “Selling stock tip subscriptions via email.” The IRS claims there is no evidence of any such sales.

78,985 payments of $9.99 were received into the Stripe account between October 2015 and December 2016, amounting to $789,060. A further 7,611 payments of $25.49 ($194,004.39) and 5,348 payments of $44.99 ($240,606.52) made a grand total of $1,223,671.24.

“The above-listed amounts correspond to the listed subscription costs on Sit2Play and Movietv. Therefore, I believe the payments received by Stripe are the subscription fees for the websites,” Druffel adds.

Further analysis of transactions on White’s Stripe account dated between October 2017 and September 2018 revealed a further 396,843 payments of between $9.99 and $44.99 to a value of $6,373,816.57.

“The above listed amounts correspond to the cost of subscriptions to the websites and represent proceeds from the violation of 18 USC § 2319, Criminal Copyright Infringement,” the statement reads.

The investigation found that through August 2018, more than $3m was transferred from the Stripe account to a Wells Fargo account in White’s name and a JP Morgan Chase account held in the name of Viral Sensations, Inc. (VSI), a Nevada entity.

White is alleged to have opened three checking accounts in the name of VSI, over which he had sole signature authority. Through August 31, 2018, one VSI account received payments of more than $5.9 million. The accounts were linked to White and subscriptions from the pirate sites. Funds from one of the Chase accounts were used to buy $1m in cryptocurrency through virtual currency exchange Coinbase.

On November 13, 2018, Mustafa Kasubhai, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon, approved a search and seizure warrant authorizing a search of White’s residence and seizure of various assets. The warrant was executed two days later, yielding the following;

  • $2,457,790.72 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #1
  • $1,266,650.00 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #2
  • $1,383.68 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #3
  • $200,653.71 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #4
  • $32,921.00 seized in US currency (cash)
  • $1,940.77 seized in US currency (Stripe account)
  • 31.53810677 in BTC (Coinbase account)
  • 1,022.39066800 in ETH (Coinbase account)
  • 5.74017141 in BCH (Coinbase account)

“[I] have probable cause to believe, and I do believe, that White and others known and unknown were involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2319 from at least 2013 through November 2018,” Druffel’s statement adds.

On May 7, 2019, District Judge Anna J. Brown issued an order to the IRS to hold the assets until further notice.

“You are hereby commanded to arrest and take into your possession until further order of the Court, defendants, in rem, Assorted Funds,” the Judge wrote.

From a copyright infringement perspective, this case is pretty unusual.

Most civil and criminal cases against pirate sites and their operators involve detailed descriptions of their workings along with finely-tuned claims of various types of infringement. But the focus here appears to be a financial one, for now at least.

A report from Koin.com suggests that the man hasn’t been charged with a crime yet. In an effort to find ou more, TF approached White’s lawyer Rain Minns. At the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

Related court documents obtained by TF can be found here (1,2,3)

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Cryptocurrency

Register Lecture: Hidden heroes of Alan Turing’s Enigma

Live code-breaking and beer A curse follows Enigma, the cryptography device deployed by Adolf Hitler’s military during the WWII to protect their Morse communications from the Allies. That curse? Invisibility. Alan Turing has – now – become intrinsically linked with cracking Enigma, a machine of fiendish complexity capable of 159 million, million, million (1.59×1020) settings…

Register Lecture: Hidden heroes of Alan Turing’s Enigma

Live code-breaking and beer

A curse follows Enigma, the cryptography device deployed by Adolf Hitler’s military during the WWII to protect their Morse communications from the Allies. That curse? Invisibility.

Alan Turing has – now – become intrinsically linked with cracking Enigma, a machine of fiendish complexity capable of 159 million, million, million (1.59×1020) settings that demanded the perfect marriage of mathematics and engineering to break. Turing’s work would blow open secrets that helped alter the war – for example, alerting the RAF to Luftwaffe raids during the Battle of Britain. And yet, Turing received little by way of the recognition he deserved for decades – quite the opposite, in fact.

But Turing is not the only one to have suffered Enigma’s curse of invisibility. Join The National Museum of Computing on June 26 for a special Register lecture journey back 80 years to the eve of the Second World War, to hear the stories of those behind Turing.

Hear about who provided a critical leg-up to the struggling English in cracking Enigma and who helped build the Bombe – the device to mechanise the mathematics of code breaking. Eight decades after the start of the War, TNMOC will go inside the pioneering work of the Polish General Staff Cipher Bureau in Warsaw and shine a light on the roles of Gordon Welchman and Doc Keen, the long-overlooked Bombe engineering team lead, at Bletchley. Together, they helped put code-breaking at Bletchley Park on an industrial footing.

Your guide for this crypto history trip will be Paul Kellar MBE, a leading member of the Bombe Rebuild project – based at TNMOC as a working tribute to those who contributed to breaking the Enigma.

Starring with Paul will be a working Enigma to help demonstrate “knowing your enemy” and illustrate how the Bombe could attack and break the Enigma on a daily basis. You will get the opportunity, too, to participate in a live code-cracking exercise with Checking Machine – the last stage in recovering the Key of the Day after the Bombe had found the crucial settings.

Join fellow Reg readers with the TNMOC crypto historians and their machines at the Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James St, London, WC1N 3ES. Doors open at 18:30 BST with Paul taking the mic at 19:00. An audience question-and-answer session will follow a break to re-charge mind and grey matter. Get your ticket here. ®

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