The Value of Uncensorable Technology in an Age of Censorship

Op-Ed

Governments and corporations have deployed censorship to limit speech and deprive people of vital communication channels. The ruling elite are trying to shush activists and freethinkers, but they are losing control and lashing out in frustration. This is why the emergence of decentralized tools and uncensorable money is more vital than ever.

Also read: Bitcoin After Death: The Perils of Sharing One’s Fortune

Corporate Censorship and the Loss of Control

Facebook recently engaged in a massive campaign to purge a plethora of freedom-oriented pages from their platform. They removed pages such as The Anti-Media, Free Thought Project, V is for Voluntary, and Rachel Blevins. The move came after Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube joined forces to eject Alex Jones from their respective applications back in August.

The social media titans have become zealous in their mission to purge their platforms of anti-government messages and to stifle liberty. Twitter is now known as a company that embraces censorship, and Youtube has routinely demonetized pages that disseminate information that goes against their milquetoast company ethos.

It is unsurprising, though, that these social media giants have taken this route. They are centralized social media companies in an age of decentralization; they are outdated and ready to be displaced by scrappy upstarts.

People are also waking up to the depredations of government and corporate cronyism. They are beginning to acknowledge the broken nature of partisan politics. This mass enlightenment has led to an explosion of tools and technologies with the goal of subverting the system.

Emergent Uncensorable Technologies

Developers and entrepreneurs are fashioning tools with the purpose of freeing people and opening new information channels. They are also allowing value to be expressed in peer-to-peer ways that cannot be intercepted by State agents. There are several major technologies blossoming, but the most significant is uncensorable cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin cash, allows for the transmission of value in an uncensorable fashion. This means anarchists can fund their projects without having to worry about their money getting frozen, seized, or stolen. Having uncensorable money like BCH is indispensable for helping activists achieve their goals. If they had to rely on the traditional methods of receiving donations and funding their projects, the Visa and Mastercard networks could shutter their pipeline at anytime at the behest of the government. There are other options for uncensorable money as well, including nonero, horizen, and others. These monetary technologies aren’t social media platforms per se, but money is a form of communication and having uncensorable money is indispensable to thwarting censorship.

Along with bitcoin cash, uncensorable social media and messaging platforms have arisen. In Jamie Redman’s article Facebook and Twitter Beware — Censorship-Resistant Social Media Is Here, he mentions several applications that have actually been built on Bitcoin Cash, including Memo.cash, which is a decentralized version of Twitter. Platforms like Steemit have also emerged over the last couple of years. Steemit is a blogging platform that allows people to post content without having to worry about a centralized authority deleting their content. Users can earn cryptocurrency rewards for their posts, rather than having all the value they create siphoned by the platform and its founders. Other nascent decentralized media tools include Minds and Bittube.

The Decentralized Revolution is Currently a Bad User Experience

The problem with many of these decentralized social media technologies is they are still in their infancy. They are fresh out of the womb. This means they lack easy adoption. Their usability is limited and requires a degree of technological acumen. Their user interfaces are underdeveloped and sometimes suffer from technical problems. This makes the user experience suffer, causing people to leave the platforms.

The other problem is that the platforms have not experienced viral adoption as a result of the aforesaid issues. Established platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have an entrenched user base, many of whom have taken years to establish themselves. This means a system that is both user-friendly and prone to rapid growth will have to emerge in order to supplant these old applications.

The Technological Spring: The System Will Topple and Censorship Will be Mitigated

Nonetheless, these problems are mere technical issues that will be solved in time. These technologies will eventually prosper. The decline of the legacy systems is well underway; it is inevitable.

The maniacal drive to control people and contain their voice has led to the technological springtime we are now on the verge of witnessing.

New tools and technologies have cropped up not only to make human life more leisurely and simpler — they have emerged as a way to decentralize power. Iconoclasts and developers are building applications for philosophical purposes, to mitigate the effect of power on the rest of humanity. Their goal is to diminish the impact of violent hierarchies and to even the playing field.

In the long term, this will cause power structures to topple under the weight of truth. Decentralized technologies will erode the ability of centralized institutions to censor freethinkers who pontificate on liberty and anarchy. Without censorship to indoctrinate the masses, the system will begin to unravel and the power elite will no longer be able to run roughshod over the people. Humanity will then be able to move forward into the future with dignity and decency.

This is the value of uncensorable technology.

Do you think uncensorable social media platforms will gain traction? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. 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 information in this Op-ed article.

Binance Opens Fiat-To-Crypto Exchange in Uganda

Binance Opens Its First Fiat-To-Crypto Exchange in Uganda

Exchanges

On Oct. 15, Binance announced the launch of its fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The world’s biggest digital currency exchange said users in the East African country are now able to complete full account verification starting immediately. Deposits and withdrawals of the local fiat currency, the Ugandan shilling, start on Wednesday.

Also read: Bitcoin After Death: The Perils of Sharing One’s Fortune

Exchange to Initially Support Trades Between Ugandan Shilling and BTC, ETH Only

“We are extremely proud to officially launch our first fiat-crypto exchange in Uganda,” said Wei Zhou, chief financial officer at Binance, in a press statement. “We have been diligently preparing for this exchange with our local partners since our team first visited Uganda in April 2018.”

Zhou also stated that: “This is only the first step in our efforts to use blockchain technology to support sustainable economic development in Africa, and we look forward to bringing more innovations to the region.”

The exchange will initially support trading of the local shilling unit with bitcoin core (BTC) and ethereum (ETH), Binance said. More trading pairs are to be added in the coming months, it detailed, adding that “users are exempt from trading fees during the first month.” The Ugandan subsidiary is capable of processing 1.4 million transactions per second, with 24-hour client support.

Binance is the world’s biggest digital currency exchange, with 24-hour volume of about $1.97 billion worth of BTC alone, according to data from Coinmarketcap.  The company has revealed plans to open fiat-capable exchanges in Liechtenstein, Malta and Singapore. Until now, the exchange had been optimized for crypto-to-crypto trades only.

In Uganda, cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption and development continue to see growth. That’s despite warnings by the Bank of Uganda against the use of unregulated currencies in the form of bitcoin and other digital coins. The country of 44 million people is home to various blockchain conferences, associations and communities, with support at Cabinet level.

African Investors Welcome Binance’s Ugandan Presence

Investors in Africa have cheered Binance’s move into Uganda. “This is great news!” Michael Kimani, a leading Kenyan crypto proponent, tweeted.

“(It) will spark a race across African countries on setting up [a] favorable environment for cryptocurrency trading against African currencies. Muhimu (vital) for cross border trade, intra-African trade, online payments, remittances, trading, investing…” he wrote.

Binance Opens Its First Fiat-To-Crypto Exchange in Uganda

Binance’s presence in the East African nation is expected to boost financial inclusion in a country where only 33 percent of citizens use registered financial accounts. But this is a place where bitcoin looks likely to flourish unhindered. Some shops and restaurants in Kampala – Uganda’s capital – now accept bitcoin as a means of payment.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has spoken positively about blockchain technology – but not cryptocurrencies. He told the Africa Blockchain conference organised by the Blockchain Association of Uganda in Kampala in May of the need “to look for a new technology of enabling things to move faster and new systems that go with it.”

His central bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile had apparently spoken to the contrary in an earlier address to the same conference. Mutebile accused blockchain technology of lacking the necessary support to sustain a currency. But Ugandans, mostly professionals, have taken a particular liking to virtual money, bitcoin especially.

What do you think about Binance’s move into Uganda? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto Consensus

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto Consensus

Op-Ed

On Oct. 10, Blockstream revealed that the company’s new product, Liquid, generated its first block on Sept. 27 and noted that a lot of the crypto-economy’s “biggest players” participated. Since Blockstream announced the launch of its federated sidechain, the technology has been praised by some and dismissed by others.

Also read: BCH Devcon Streamlines Bitcoin Innovation in San Francisco

The Liquid Launch Makes a Wave

After recently introducing Blockstream Satellite, a network that broadcasts the Bitcoin Core (BTC) blockchain from space, the firm’s long-awaited Liquid technology has been launched. The project has been under development for years and has been introduced to the public as “the world’s first production Bitcoin sidechain.” Since the initial announcement, many individuals within the cryptocurrency community have been debating the legitimacy of the technology on forums and social media.

Liquid is a sidechain, which means it’s a separate blockchain that’s interoperable with the BTC network. The Liquid protocol is essentially a centralized system, but considered acceptable by some because it uses a method of consensus called ‘federated distribution.’ According to the whitepaper, the chain is supposed to facilitate large amounts of BTC transfers offchain in the form of L-BTC, Liquid’s native 2-way peg token. On Twitter, the tech researcher Lucas Nuzzi said people should not underestimate Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain launch and called it a “big deal.” However, in the same statement, Nuzzi explained that federated consensus “doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s a start.”

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto ConsensusRSK’s Sergio Lerner discusses Liquid on Twitter. RSK uses merged mining in their sidechain technology.

Trusting a Federation Over Nakamoto Consensus

Even though some truly believe Liquid is a “big deal,” there are many that think the project is no good and introduces security problems with the pegging itself being called into question. Former Bitcoin Foundation member and tech investor Olivier Janssens believes that crippling the BTC chain was Blockstream’s original intent and Liquid is the for-profit sidechain solution.   

“How long will it take before Blockstream’s “Liquid Bitcoin” L-BTC user wallet is created?” Janssens asks on Twitter. “Near-instant confirmations, low and no fees — Nothing like the crippled Bitcoin mainchain that suffers high fees, big delays, etc — All of the above created and brought to you by Blockstream.”

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto ConsensusLiquid has been compared to systems like Ripple, Stellar, and EOS.

Additionally, several people have compared Liquid to Stellar, Ripple, or the EOS network. In these types of systems, chain management can be considered ‘permissioned’ by things called payment ‘gateways’ and ‘block producers.’ Blockstream spokesperson Samson Mow responded to this claim by explaining that there is “no comparison between Liquid and Ripple or EOS.” Yet from what we know, Liquid claims to use a ‘trusted’ federation that utilizes multi-signature technology that is still subject to flaws. This means the product is susceptible to the federation being compromised because Liquid can never be a trustless model. Funds could be stolen in the Liquid system or, worse, inflation could be created with fractional reserve concepts appearing.

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto ConsensusThe Liquid federation can be compromised.

People who believe in Liquid assume they can trust a federation of 23 exchanges running the hardware and software. However, exchanges are extremely prone to hacks and being compromised from the inside. Bitfinex for example, one of Liquid’s partner exchanges, was hacked back in 2016 and they are considered a trusted exchange for some. At the time of the hack, the exchange had also been using multi-signature technology. Another Liquid partner exchange, Zaif, was recently breached this year and lost funds as well. 

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto Consensus Twitter users vote on whether or not they would hold L-BTC.

Repeating Past Mistakes

Another question raised is whether or not Liquid users will be subject to know-your-customer (KYC) laws or other privacy concerns. This is also due to the fact that the federation will consist of 23 exchanges from around the world with various regulations applied to them. Instead of dealing with a decentralized cryptocurrency like bitcoin, firms will be dealing with L-BTC which could be considered a security in some jurisdictions. For instance, the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s William Hinman recently said in his opinion decentralized projects are not considered securities, but centralized coins could be classified in that fashion. The implications of L-BTC being considered a security, KYC laws being applicable to exchange participants, and a new type of blockchain surveillance tool may be considered theoretical to some but very real to others.

Bizarro World: Federated Sidechain Technology Promoted Over Nakamoto ConsensusPaul Sztorc has criticized Liquid this week on Twitter. Sztorc is working on a sidechain project called Drivechain which utilizes merge mining.

Frances Coppola, Forbes senior markets contributor, has denounced Blockstream for introducing an “oddly familiar” solution to liquidity. Coppola scoffs at the fact that the company has chosen to use “insecure cryptocurrency exchanges are the ‘trusted functionaries’ in Liquid.”

Coppola continues by emphasizing:

Instead of holding all your funds in one corrupt and hack-prone exchange, a bunch of corrupt and hack-prone exchanges will link themselves together so that it is much easier to move your funds from one corrupt and hack-prone exchange to another. This also makes it more likely that if one goes down, so do the rest. Didn’t the authors learn anything from 2008?

The discussion surrounding Liquid has been a hot topic over the last few days and the project will likely continue to be scrutinized. Another type of sidechain called the Drivechain protocol has been a topical conversation as well. This sidechain project is a concept being developed by Paul Sztorc and the system involves merge mining. Sztorc has also criticized the Liquid network’s current launch and recently called the project a “multi-sig Mt Gox idea.”

To many, the federated sidechain idea seems like a step back from moving towards trustless models, and into the realm of traditional finance again. However, one could say a lot has changed since the days when Bitcoin adoption was pushed to disintermediate the banking system and nation states. Nowadays, it seems that speculation is super important to a lot of people, and individuals and groups are begging nation states for permission and praying for a regulated exchange-traded fund. So it really isn’t that surprising that Liquid fits the needs of the status quo and removes Nakamoto consensus from the picture.

The Bitcoin community seems to be stuck in a ‘Bizarro World’ where everything is the opposite of what it ought to be. People have trusted Nakamoto consensus for close to ten years, only for a group of individuals to deem the system fallible (the miners are evil theory) and vehemently claim a centralized pegged blockchain protocol is a better solution.

What do you think about the Liquid project? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. 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 information in this Op-ed article.


Images Twitter, Shutterstock, and Pixabay. 


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