Uber faced a blow on Monday when London regulators refused to renew the ride-hailing company’s operating permit because of safety concerns. The biggest issue lawmakers cited was drivers using false identities as they ferried unsuspecting passengers.At least 14,000 trips were made by unauthorized drivers, according to city regulator Transport for London. The way it worked is this: A number of drivers would share one account, and whenever one of them went out to drive, they’d upload their own photo to fool passengers. The unauthorized drivers were able to pose as vetted, licensed and insured, when often they weren’t.
HSBC aims to shift $20 billion worth of assets to a new blockchain-based custody platform by March, in one of the biggest deployments yet of the widely-hyped but still unproven technology by a global bank.
The platform, known as Digital Vault, will give investors real-time access to records of securities bought on private markets, HSBC (HSBA.L) told Reuters, and seeks to capitalize on booming interest in such investments by yield-hungry investors.
2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey Highlights 1. Social media companies were second only to cyber criminals when it came to fueling online distrust.75% say social media companies are responsible for their online distrust In the 2019 survey, social media companies emerged as the leading source of user distrust in the internet — surpassed only by cybercriminals — with 75% of those surveyed citing Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as contributing to their lack of trust. People from Canada and Great Britain, at 89%, were the most likely to point to social media as a source of their distrust, followed by Nigeria (88%), the United States (87%) and Australia (83%). People from Japan (49%), Tunisia (60%), Hong Kong (63%) and Korea (64%) were the least likely to do so. Almost nine in ten (88%) North Americans who distrust the Internet cited social media as responsible for their distrust, the highest proportion out of all regions surveyed. While cybercriminals, cited by 81%, remained the leading source of internet distrust, a majority in all regions (62% globally) indicated that a lack of internet security was also a significant factor — up significantly from 48% in 2018. 2. More than half of those concerned about their online privacy say they’re more concerned than they were a year ago.53% are more concerned about their online privacy than they were a year ago Eight out of 10 (78%) people surveyed were concerned about their online privacy, with over half (53%) more concerned than they were a year ago, marking the fifth year in a row that a majority of those surveyed say they feel more concerned about their online privacy than the previous year. Fewer than half (48%) believe their government does enough to safeguard their online data and personal information, with the lowest confidence levels in North America (38%) and the G-8 countries (39%). Citizens around the world are increasingly viewing their own governments as a threat to their privacy online. In fact, more people attributed their online privacy concerns to domestic governments (66%) — a majority in nearly every region surveyed — than to foreign governments (61%). While 73% said they wanted their online data and personal information to be stored in their own country, majorities in Hong Kong (62%), Indonesia (58%), Egypt (58%), India (57%), Brazil (54%), and Mexico (51%) said they wanted their online data and personal information stored outside of their country. In contrast, only 23% of North Americans, 35% of Europeans and 32% of those in G-8 countries shared this sentiment. 3. A majority admit to falling for fake news at least once — citing Facebook as the leading source — and want both governments and social media companies to take action.86% have fallen for fake news at least once 86% said they had fallen for fake news at least once, with 44% saying they sometimes or frequently did. Only 14% said they had “never” been duped by fake news. Facebook was the most commonly cited source of fake news, with 77% of Facebook users saying they had personally seen fake news there, followed by 62% of Twitter users and 74% of social media users in general. 10% of Twitter users said they had closed their Twitter account in the past year as a direct result of fake news, while 9% of Facebook users reported doing the same. One-third (35%) pointed to the United States as the country most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their country, trailed significantly by Russia (12%) and China (9%). Notably, internet users in Canada (59%), Turkey (59%) and the United States itself (57%) were most likely to say that the United States is most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their own country, while users in Great Britain (40%) and Poland (35%) were most likely to point to Russia, and users in Hong Kong (39%), Japan (38%) and India (29%) were most likely to blame China. A majority of internet users around the globe support all efforts that governments and internet companies could take to combat fake news, from social media and video sharing platforms deleting fake news posts and videos (85%) and accounts (84%) to the adoption of automated approaches to content removal (79%) and government censorship of online content (61%). 4. Distrust in the internet is causing people to change the way they behave online.49% say their distrust has led them to disclose less personal information online Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said their distrust had caused them to disclose less personal information online, while 43% reported taking greater care to secure their devices and 39% said they were using the internet more selectively, among other precautions. Conversely, only a small percentage of people reported making use of more sophisticated tools — such as using more encryption (19%) or using technical tools like Tor (The Onion Router) or virtual private networks (VPNs) — to protect themselves online. 5
Bitcoin conspiracy theorists have long suspected the U.S. government, among others, would like to shut down bitcoin.Bitcoin’s first decade has seen its price explode, making early adopters overnight millionaires, and prompting some of the world’s biggest technology companies to create their own versions of bitcoin.Now, it’s been revealed federal prosecutor-turned bitcoin and cryptocurrency expert Katie Haun was asked to look into “shutting down” bitcoin by her boss at the U.S. attorney’s office in 2012.
In sum, the blockchain back end shouldn’t matter to users – just like the Internet’s DNS or TCP/IP protocols don’t matter to web users. All web users care about is their web-based applications. All Blockchain users need to care about is their decentralized applications.Make no mistake: The days of seamless blockchain interoperability at the ‘atomic’ level are not here yet. Nor are the days of cross chain functionality where a single smart contract can update multiple blockchain platforms using a single process. We won’t see these needed functions go mainstream for at least two years.But the good news is we are seeing some very promising developments that will help move us closer to this end state, as highlighted in our recently published Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technology 2019.source: Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technology, 2019
When Prince Harry posted a photograph of himself and his future wife Meghan Markle in Botswana, placing a satellite collar on an elephant to track it and protect it from poachers, the royal was demonstrating new ways of combating the illegal wildlife trade.The couple’s post sought to highlight that more than 100 African elephants a day are killed for their ivory. Now, the war against poaching has another potential weapon: artificial intelligence.AI is capable of analysing different kinds of data sets and spotting significant patterns. The results can be used for the wider public good, such as improving planning in healthcare and public transport — or fighting wildlife poachers.“Audio data can be used to train algorithms to distinguish gunshots [of] those poaching wild animals [from] the gunshots [of] hunters,” says Chris Martin, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons. Using big data, real-time alerts could be pinged to rangers to tell them which areas to focus on.Data trusts — which are separate legal entities designed to help organisations extract value from anonymised data without falling foul of privacy regulations — are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third parties.A pilot study on whether data trusts should be set up to share information to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was one of three initiatives by the Open Data Institute earlier this year (the ODI is a UK non-profit body that works with companies and governments “to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem”).The study looked at whether data trusts could hold photographs from camera traps and acoustic information from a range of sources, which could be used by algorithms to create real-time alerts on poachers in protected areas.There are, however, legal questions about how to share anonymised data from governments and companies in a safe, ethical way against a backdrop of public mistrust. In the biggest scandal to date, consultancy Cambridge Analytica illicitly harvested personal data from Facebook to influence elections. In July, the US Federal Trade Commission approved a $5bn fine for the social media platform for privacy violations. Data trusts are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third partiesIn Los Angeles, residents have expressed concerns about the use of personal data collected from electric scooters, which is intended to help urban planning.Companies and governments tread a fine line between extracting information from data and ensuring they do not break laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which forces any company holding personal data of an EU citizen to seek consent and delete the data on request. Individuals should not be identifiable from the data sets.These legal problems on privacy and governance were what law firm Pinsent Masons with BPE Solicitors had to contend with when advising the ODI on data trusts.The project to combat poaching looked at whether a data trust could improve the sharing of information and invoice data from researchers and governments, by monitoring documents given to border staff about species being transported across borders that can be falsified by smugglers. The data could be used to train algorithms to help border staff identify illegally traded animals.Mr Martin says setting up such a data trust could enable border officials to take photographs of a live animal and use software to check whether it is a species on which there are export restrictions.One advantage of a data trust is that it enables individuals to become trustees and have a say in how their anonymised data is used. It would allow citizens to be represented if the data trust held traffic information collected about their locality, for example.Data trusts might also encourage companies to put in data to enable them to work on projects where they have a common goal. “The big supermarkets could decide to set up a data trust to share data on, for example, tackling food waste or climate change,” Mr Martin says.Chris Reed, professor of electronic commerce at Queen Mary University of London, says data trusts are useful when multiple organisations put in data. “The sharing of data might have been subject to agreements between parties, but when you might have 100 companies putting in data you cannot have agreements covering them all. Having a data trust is a fair and safe way of doing this,” he says.Only a handful of data trusts exist. Credit card company Mastercard and IBM has formed an independent Dublin-based data trust called Truata. Connor Manning, a partner at law firm Arthur Cox, handled the corporate and trust structure documentation. He says that part of the legal complexity was designing the structure so that Mastercard was a beneficiary of the trust but the structure was not a standard company. “It is a corporate structure with a trust structure on top,” he explains.A data trust may not be the answer to every situation. Othe
David Marcus, the Facebook executive in charge of the project, told the press last week that the problems of banking the unbanked were technical — that banks were unable to move money fast enough without a blockchain. This is completely backward. Experts know how to move numbers on a computer. The slow part is settlement and compliance: making sure that money transmitters are solvent, honest, and not fronting for drug runners. Banking the unbanked is a slow, one-on-one social process. Libra’s public relations material describes this as if it were entirely a technical problem — and none of it is.The real motivation for the project seems to be ideological. Marcus was formerly at PayPal, and he understands payments and regulation. But he’s been a bitcoin fan since 2012 and was on the board of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in 2017.Marcus had been thinking about something like Libra for several years and had discussed the project with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg since January 2018. Zuckerberg was interested in the project and the ideas—“a high-quality medium of exchange for the world, on a blockchain that could scale,” as Marcus described it in a press conference on June 17.Facebook is under increasingly close attention from governments deeply suspicious of its track record on privacy, election manipulation, and fake information and its repeated defiance of calls to appear before elected representatives. Yet Facebook and its closest partners seem to think that they are large and powerful enough to swing a coup against the concept of government control of money. Libra directly states that its intent is “to shape a regulatory environment” —not to comply with the existing regulatory environment. Regulators will need to bend to Libra.The Libra token is a foreign exchange derivative, synthesized from a basket of national currencies. Libra wants to operate as a shadow bank, issuing Libra-denominated liabilities that are explicitly intended to function as money. Libra “will create a mirror banking system using your money,” said Carlos Maslatón, the head of treasury at the bitcoin payments provider Xapo, explaining the service in a private WhatsApp chat group.Libra seems to be particularly targeting countries with lots of Facebook users and unstable currencies—the other meaning of banking the unbanked. There are obvious money-laundering hazards. “Know your customer” (KYC) rules require anyone dealing in currency substitutes to track the sources of funds so as to cut off funding for criminals and terrorists. Libra says it will keep to the highest of KYC standards—but a Libra partner in a bad economy risks compromising the compliance of the whole Libra system, given that its intent is to move money around the world at the speed of cryptocurrencies. Libra will need to keep this tight and assure developed-world regulators that it has done so, or it will place the entire Libra system at risk.
he briefing was fascinating. The lead representative, the head of policy for Libra, kicked it off by admitting that the whole endeavor required a “suspension of disbelief.” They were asked about the timeline, and said they hoped to have Libra operational in about a year, which they kept suggesting was a prolonged timeline, but didn’t seem lengthy to anyone in the room.They kept selling Libra as a means of providing banking services to 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world. When challenged on how they were going to do that, and asked directly whether they’d figure out how exactly a digital currency would be an answer for people who can’t access credit currently, they said, “The short answer is no.” The phrase “the miracle of blockchain” was used at one point.Facebook said that they assumed the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) would regulate Libra. Questions were asked about what basket of currency would be used and other practicalities, and the answers were fairly vague. Gemini, another cryptocurrency, was referred to as a “regulated exchange” because I guess there are 43 states that have some form of protections on it (with the implication being that that is adequate).We were assured that even if a Libra user used WhatsApp or Messenger, WhatsApp/Facebook would not access specific information about their transactions beyond that they were interested in or using Libra. That would of course be enough information to know a lot more about users.Another question asked was what protections were in place to prevent collusion between Libra’s 27 partners. The answer was that the partners were well aware of the “reputational risks” they might incur should they violate privacy laws, etc. It was also pointed out that some of the partners are direct competitors, as if that has ever prevented them from colluding in the past.Ultimately we need more than a briefing. Currency backed by reserves is coinage. Because Facebook is proposing to take over a role traditionally under the purview of central banks, not private companies, we should expect the skepticism we heard in the room from staffers to be publicly aired by House Financial Services Committee members on July 17.
ARTICLE 19 has issued a warning about the promotion of blockchain technology as a solution to censorship. In a report published today, the freedom of expression organisation identifies some of the risks that arise from the use of blockchain technology. It also identifies steps that states, public organisations and tech companies should take to ensure that human rights are protected when this technology is used.