Archive for the ‘bitcoin’ Category

Feds bust massive child porn sharing site—hundreds of users arrested

October 17th, 2019
Feds bust massive child porn sharing site—hundreds of users arrested

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Brookes / Getty)

Authorities have shut down a massive underground child pornography network, arresting 337 alleged users in the process, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday. The mastermind, a South Korean man named Jong Wo Son, ran the Tor hidden service from a server in his bedroom, according to authorities.

The feds say the site hosted 200,000 video files. Users who uploaded videos to the site were rewarded with free access to videos uploaded by others. Users could also purchase access to the videos using bitcoin.

A notice on the upload page stated "do not upload adult porn." A search page listed popular search terms on the site including "PTHC" ("preteen hardcore") and "%4yo."

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Posted in bitcoin, child porn, Policy, South Korea | Comments (0)

Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, and eBay all quit Facebook’s Libra in one day

October 12th, 2019
Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, and eBay all quit Facebook’s Libra in one day

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Facebook's embattled Libra project suffered a major blow on Friday as four payment processors—Stripe, Visa, Mastercard, and Mercado Pago—withdrew from participation in the Libra Association, the Geneva-based group Facebook created to develop the virtual currency. eBay also announced its resignation Friday. eBay's former subsidiary, PayPal, quit the group last week.

The timing is not a coincidence. The Libra Association is scheduled to hold its first official meeting on Monday. At that meeting, members will be asked to make binding commitments to the project. So for members who weren't prepared to commit to the project, Friday was a good day to get out.

But this is an awkward development for Facebook. When the company introduced Libra earlier this year, it said it hoped to grow Libra's membership from 27 companies to more than 100 by the time the Libra network launched in 2020. Instead, the association's membership has fallen to 22 companies.

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Posted in bitcoin, Blockchain, cryptocurrency, Facebook, Libra, Policy | Comments (0)

Someone moved $1 billion in a single bitcoin transaction

September 10th, 2019
Holders of large amounts of bitcoin are known as "whales."

Enlarge / Holders of large amounts of bitcoin are known as "whales." (credit: Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Late on Thursday night, US Eastern time, someone made one of the biggest transactions in bitcoin history: 94,504 bitcoins. At the then-current bitcoin price of around $10,600, this transaction was worth almost exactly $1 billion. It's now worth around $967 million.

Bitcoin's shared transaction ledger is open but addresses are anonymous by default. As a result, we know that the transaction occurred, but we don't know who made it or why. One analysis indicated that at least a third of the money comes from Huobi Global, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Singapore. So the transaction could reflect big withdrawals from a Huobi customer—or it could mean that Huobi itself was consolidating some of its deposits.

This isn't the largest transaction in bitcoin terms. In 2013, for example, someone moved 194,993 bitcoins in a single transaction. But bitcoins were much less valuable back then, so the transaction was only valued at around $150 million.

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Posted in billion, bitcoin, Blockchain, Policy | Comments (0)

Judge savages self-proclaimed bitcoin inventor Craig Wright

August 28th, 2019
Craig Wright, right, arrives at federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 28, 2019.

Enlarge / Craig Wright, right, arrives at federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 28, 2019. (credit: Saul Martinez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Australian Internet personality Craig Wright claims he is bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. A lot of people don't believe him. But one person who does believe him is Ira Kleiman, the brother of deceased technologist Dave Kleiman. According to possibly forged emails published by Gizmodo in 2015, Wright and Kleiman worked together to develop and launch bitcoin in 2008 and 2009.

Those documents suggested that Wright and Kleiman collaborated to mine hundreds of thousands of bitcoins in 2009 and 2010. That would make Ira Kleiman the heir to a multibillion-dollar fortune. So last year, Kleiman sued Wright, seeking his share of the Nakamoto bitcoins.

Kleiman and Wright have been battling in a Florida courtroom ever since. In a Tuesday ruling, federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart savaged Wright for repeatedly misleading the court and generally wasting everyone's time.

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Posted in bitcoin, craig wright, cryptocurrency, dave kleiman, fraud, Ira Kleiman, Policy, Satoshi Nakamoto | Comments (0)

I tried to pay with bitcoin at a Mexico City bar—it didn’t go well

August 7th, 2019
Me at Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City.

Enlarge / Me at Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City. (credit: Amanda Rohn)

I traveled to Mexico City last week to have a relaxing vacation with my wife—not to find stories for Ars Technica. But our Airbnb apartment happened to be around the corner from a bar called Bitcoin Embassy. How could I not check it out?

The bar included a bitcoin ATM that lets users trade physical cash for bitcoins, and vice versa (there are more than 5,000 bitcoin ATMs like this around the world). Bitcoin Embassy offered a 10% discount if I paid for my tab in bitcoin.

So I inserted a 500 peso note—about $25—into the machine. I downloaded a bitcoin wallet app from Google's Play Store. It generated an address for receiving the funds and displayed it as a QR code the ATM could scan. A few second later, the ATM spit out a receipt stating "Bitcoin purchased: 0.00245589."

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Posted in bar, bitcoin, blockchains, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook is backpedaling from its ambitious vision for Libra

July 18th, 2019
David Marcus, head of blockchain at Facebook, speaks at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Enlarge / David Marcus, head of blockchain at Facebook, speaks at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

David Marcus, the head of Facebook's new Calibra payments division, appeared before two hostile congressional committees this week with a simple message: Facebook knows policymakers are concerned about Libra, and Facebook won't move forward with the project until their concerns are addressed.

While he didn't say so explicitly, Marcus' comments at hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday represented a dramatic shift in Facebook's conception of Libra. In Facebook's original vision, Libra would be an open and largely decentralized network, akin to Bitcoin. The core network would be beyond the reach of regulators. Regulatory compliance would be the responsibility of exchanges, wallets, and other services that are the "on ramps and off ramps" to the Libra ecosystem.

Facebook now seems to recognize its original vision was a non-starter with regulators. So this week Marcus sketched out a new vision for Libra—one in which the Libra Association will shoulder significant responsibility for ensuring compliance with laws relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

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Posted in bitcoin, Facebook, Libra, Money Laundering, Policy | Comments (0)

There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

July 11th, 2019
There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Mark Zuckerberg is known for his boundless ambition. He's had a longstanding fascination with Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who (in Zuckerberg's words) "established 200 years of world peace." So having conquered social networking, Zuckerberg has his eyes on something bigger: reshaping the global financial system.

Payment services from rivals like Apple and Google essentially offer an improved user interface for conventional credit card networks. Facebook, in contrast, is aiming to use blockchain-like technology to build a new payment network from scratch, complete with its own currency.

Facebook has assembled an impressive roster of launch partners for its Libra project. Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal are backing the effort. So are Uber and Lyft, as well as several venture capital firms and non-profit organizations.

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Posted in bitcoin, Blockchain, cryptocurrency, Facebook, Features, Libra, Policy | Comments (0)

Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin

July 9th, 2019
DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector.

Enlarge / DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector. (credit: Tamorlan)

Among the many technological breakthroughs of NASA's Apollo project to land a man on the Moon was the Apollo Guidance Computer that flew onboard Apollo spacecraft. In an era when most computers were refrigerator-sized—if not room-sized—the AGC weighed only about 70 pounds. It was one of the first computers to use integrated circuits.

A team of computer historians got its hands on one of the original AGCs and got it working. A member of the team, Ken Shirriff, then decided to see if the computer could be used for bitcoin mining.

Mining is a key part of the process for maintaining bitcoin's shared transaction ledger, or blockchain. To win the right to add a block to the blockchain, you have to solve a difficult problem: finding a block whose SHA-256 hash starts with a minimum number of zeros. The only known way to accomplish this is by brute force: miners create a block with a random nonce and compute its hash value. If the hash value doesn't have enough leading zeros, the miner changes the nonce and tries again.

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Posted in Apollo program, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, Policy, science, space | Comments (0)

Bitcoin soars past $12,500 five days after hitting $10,000

June 26th, 2019
Bitcoin soars past $12,500 five days after hitting $10,000

Enlarge (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bitcoin has risen above $12,500, its highest level in 2019. The new milestone comes just five days after bitcoin rose above $10,000.

Bitcoin's value has risen by almost a factor of four since last December, when the price bottomed out around $3,200. Bitcoin's price is still well below the all-time high of around $19,500 reached in December 2017.

Bitcoin's rise is part of a broader rally in cryptocurrency markets. The price of ether, the currency of the Ethereum network, is up 11 percent over the last 24 hours to nearly $350. Bitcoin Cash, a bitcoin spinoff optimized for higher transaction volumes, is now worth more than $500 for the first time since the start of 2019.

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Posted in bitcoin, Policy | Comments (0)

Bitcoin rises above $10,000 for the first time in a year

June 22nd, 2019
Stack of bitcoins and dollar bills

Enlarge (credit: Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images)

Bitcoin's price has soared above $10,000 for the first time since early 2018, a new milestone in the virtual currency's latest comeback.

The price has more than tripled since hitting rock-bottom last December around $3,200. That was after crashing from an all-time high around $19,500 in December 2017.

As always, it's difficult to be sure what drives changes in Bitcoin's price. But one obvious candidate is Facebook's announcement of its own cryptocurrency, called Libra, earlier this week. Libra is a potential Bitcoin competitor, but the announcement also brings added legitimacy to the overall cryptocurrency market.

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Posted in bitcoin, cryptocurrency, ethereum, Policy | Comments (0)