Category Archives: Bills

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Who Loves Bitcoin?

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 Bitcoin

Bitcoin

With the Bitcoin price so volatile everyone is curious. Bitcoin, the category creator of blockchain technology, is the World Wide Ledger yet extremely complicated and no one definition fully encapsulates it. By analogy it is like being able to send a gold coin via email. It is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money.

It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. Bitcoin was the first practical implementation and is currently the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence.

Who created Bitcoin?

The first Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in 2009 by an unknown individual under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto who revealed little about himself and left the project in late 2010. The Bitcoin community has since grown exponentially.

Satoshi’s anonymity often raises unjustified concerns because of a misunderstanding of Bitcoin’s open-source nature. Everyone has access to all of the source code all of the time and any developer can review or modify the software code. As such, the identity of Bitcoin’s inventor is probably as relevant today as the identity of the person who invented paper.

Who is involved in Bitcoin?

Over $1B of investment into Bitcoin and blockchain companies has taken place resulting in thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of individuals involved from around the world.

Who controls the Bitcoin network?

Nobody owns the  network much like no one owns the technology behind email or the Internet.  Transactions are verified by Bitcoin miners which has an entire industry and Bitcoin cloud mining options. While developers are improving the software they cannot force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use.

In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules.  Crypto currencies can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.

How does Bitcoin work?

From a user perspective, crypto currencies  is nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and enables a user to send and receive bitcoins.

Behind the scenes, the  network is sharing a massive public ledger called the “block chain”. This ledger contains every transaction ever processed which enables a user’s computer to verify the validity of each transaction. The authenticity of each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses therefore allowing all users to have full control over sending bitcoins.

Thus, there is no fraud, no chargebacks and no identifying information that could be compromised resulting in identity theft. To learn more about Blockchain, you can consult the original Bitcoin whitepaper, read through the extremely thorough Frequently Asked Questions, listen to a Bitcoin podcast or read the latest Bitcoin news.

 

 

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Don’t Comply with the REAL ID Act

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real-id-nullified-092415Like countless similar news stories recently, a report on Business Insider claims: “Residents from 5 US states could soon need a passport for a domestic flight.” The idea is that the Transportation Security Administration will begin to enforce the REAL ID Act in 2016 by denying airport access to travelers from non-compliant states.

It’s not true.

Nobody needs to get a passport to fly domestically. No state needs to implement the REAL ID Act’s national ID mandates.

I’ve been collecting examples of misleading reports like this at the Twitter hashtag “#TakenInByDHS.” A recent blog post of mine, also called “Taken In by DHS,” fleshes out the story of widespread misreporting on the situation with our national ID law.

In brief, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to get the states to convert their driver licensing systems into components of a U.S. national ID system. The REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005, allows DHS to refuse IDs from non-compliant states, including IDs travelers present at TSA’s airport checkpoints.

This concerns some people when they first learn about it, but the REAL ID compliance deadline passed more than seven years ago with not one state in compliance. DHS has improvised deadline after deadline since then, and it has caved every single time its deadlines have been reached. I went through the history last year in my Cato Policy Analysis, “REAL ID: A State-by-State Update.”

DHS’s latest story is that it might start to enforce REAL ID in 2016. It won’t.

Contrary to DHS claims, not one state is in compliance with the national ID law. Not one. Some years ago, the department created a whittled down “material compliance checklist,” and it has freely given out deadline extensions to states that make enough of a show that they might go along with the federal government’s plans.

The story now being spun is that TSA will categorically turn away people from a small group of remaining outlier states—if you can actually call New York small—when enforcement starts next year. I am 100% certain they will not. Every state will be out of compliance for the entire year, and the TSA will not implement a policy of refusing travelers from non-compliant states.

The reason for my confidence is a basic understanding of the politics involved. If TSA—perhaps the most despised U.S. federal agency in history—refuses people the right to travel because they do not carry a national ID, the uproar will be intense and lasting. The lawsuits that follow such an action will make their heads spin. And it will all be focused at the federal government: the TSA, the DHS, and the U.S. Congress with its flaccid oversight of the security bureaucracy.

DHS officials can do basic political calculations, and, while they will communicate through back-channels and proxies that they plan to enforce REAL ID this time, there is no chance that they will actually bring a storm like this down upon themselves. State officials who do similar calculations from their end realize that they don’t have to follow federal mandates this time, or ever, and that their states will be worse off if they do. All this issue requires is a little sunlight.

Americans, you don’t have to have a passport to fly domestically. American states, you don’t have to obey federal national ID mandates. America, you don’t need to comply with the REAL ID Act.

by Jim Harper, CATO Institute

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Fast Track legislation

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Secret-Meeting-Business-White-HouseThe U.S. Senate has paved the way for the passage of Fast Track legislation, to give the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative almost unilateral power to negotiate and finalize secret anti-user trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yesterday a “cloture” vote was held—this was a vote to end debate on Fast Track and break any possibility for a filibuster, and it passed by the minimum votes needed—60 to 37. Today, the Senate voted to pass the legislation itself. TPP proponents only needed 51 votes, a simple majority, to actually pass the bill, and they got it in a 60 to 38 vote. Following months and months of campaigning, Congress has ultimately caved to corporate demands to hand away its own constitutional mandate over trade, and the President is expected to the sign the bill into law as early as tonight or later this week.

Despite this defeat, our fight against undemocratic, corporate-driven trade agreements should not be counted as a failure.

This campaign has reaffirmed the power of Internet users to make lawmakers more accountable to the people. We effectively threw a wrench into the mechanics of Washington, proven yesterday by TPP supporters’ razor thin victory in the Senate cloture vote, not to mention the series of stops and starts that delayed the passage of this bill for so many months. We put the White House on the defensive like never before, as President Obama scrambled to win enough support for his trade agenda to pass the bill. All of our calls, emails, tweets, and visits to our lawmakers made a big difference.

Even more stunning is how we have managed to delay the official TPP talks. During the recent kerfuffle over Fast Track, negotiations over TPP have effectively been stalled. The United States’ trading partners were not willing to continue talks and concede to worse digital regulations as long as it seemed that the U.S. Congress had the opportunity to second-guess the agreed language later. Now that Fast Track will be passed, TPP negotiations will likely resume in the coming weeks.

That means that we too must keep on fighting on. We’ll be laser-focused on building more momentum to defeat the TPP, as well as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which also contain harmful digital regulations. There’s one silver lining to the Fast Track legislation, which is that it will force the White House to release the final trade texts for 60 days before Congress votes to ratify the agreements. Those two months will be critical to convince our lawmakers not to ratify the TPP. At that point, we’ll have the official text to analyze and dissect, so we can better understand how the agreement will affect the Internet and demand that Congress reject the deal based on specific threats to users and innovators.

When the veil of secrecy is finally lifted, the President, the U.S. Trade Representative, and all other TPP proponents will no longer have anything to hide behind as they make sweeping claims about the deal’s benefit to the “free and open Internet.” We will then be able to show that international agreements negotiated in secret only lead to rotten digital policies.

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