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EARN IT: The US Anti-Encryption Bill That Threatens Private Speech Online

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There’s a new bill in the works to fight against child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and other risky services on the internet — but it could come at a cost to online privacy. 

Eliminating Abusive or Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) was proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsored by senators from both sides of the aisle such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill is also supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

However, this bill is problematic for both freedom of speech and privacy online according to Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity at the Center for Internet and Society. 

“This bill is trying to convert your anger at Big Tech into law enforcement’s long-desired dream of banning strong encryption,” argued Pfefferkorn in a blog post. Pfefferkorn’s detailed explanation says EARN IT appears less like a legitimate way to prevent the spread of child exploitation content and more like a covert attempt to ban end-to-end encryption, without having to ban it outright.

At the end of January 2020, a draft of the proposal was leaked and met with similar apprehension not only by Big tech juggernauts (Facebook, Google, etc.) but also their sometimes opposing counterparts, freedom of speech advocates. 

“We’re concerned the EARN IT Act may be used to roll back encryption, which protects everyone’s safety from hackers and criminals, and may limit the ability of American companies to provide the private and secure services that people expect,” Facebook spokesperson Thomas Richards said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Clearly, the issue could not be more sensitive. Patrick A. Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, recently voiced this opinion, apparently advocating for EARN IT. 

“Right now, Big Tech has no incentive to prevent predators from grooming, recruiting, and trafficking children online and as a result countless children have fallen victim to child abusers on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok,” said Trueman.

Section 230: The Most Important Law Protecting Freedom of Speech Online

While everyone who has publicly condemned EARN IT has also stated a universal commitment to child safety online and in the real world, many say the bill’s far-reaching approach to content moderation could do more harm than good by essentially eliminating private conversations across the internet, particularly on social media platforms and messaging apps.

To fully comprehend what EARN IT proposes, one needs to understand the importance of two bills passed in the ’90s. These laid the groundwork for how privacy and free speech are supposed to operate for U.S. citizens.

First, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), passed in 1996, allows for the continued development of the internet as a free market and universal good for free speech. Section 230 says that online platforms or providers of interactive computer services mostly cannot be held responsible for the things their users say or do on their platforms. It uses the term “mostly” instead of “always” because platforms are still liable for exceptions that violate intellectual and federal criminal law. Essentially, this means if someone is defamed for being a fraud, that person can sue their defamer, but they cannot sue the platform for providing the space for free speech. 

Second, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), passed in 1994, requires telecom providers to make their networks “wiretappable” for law enforcement. However, it also ensured a “carve-out” for encrypted messages and information services where websites, email, social media, messaging apps and cloud storage fall out of CALEA’s jurisdiction. 

The purpose of these carve-outs was to reach a compromise between the competing interests of network security providers, privacy advocates, civil liberties, technological growth and law enforcement. In combination, Section 230 and CALEA prevent regulation from suffocating growth and development of the U.S. information economy.

Weakening Protections

Since the ’90s, more regulation has passed to undo Section 230. “Section 230 has been amended since it was passed: SESTA/FOSTA, enacted in 2018, pierces providers’ immunity from civil and state-law claims about sex trafficking,” wrote Pfefferkorn. SESTA/FOSTA is currently being challenged in federal court being unconstitutional and doing more harm than good.

There is also already a regulatory reporting scheme for online providers combatting CSAM. Also, Section 230 does not keep federal prosecutors from holding providers accountable for CSAM on their services.

While the current reporting scheme’s success is questionable, there is reasonable evidence to believe that EARN IT is an attempt to regulate communication on the internet more broadly. 

“The so-called EARN IT bill will strip Section 230 protections away from any website that doesn’t follow a list of ‘best practices,’ meaning those sites can be sued into bankruptcy,” writes Joe Mullin, a policy analyst with the Electronic Freedom Foundation. 

Mullin is referring to how EARN IT would target CSAM. It proposes to do this by creating a federal commission to develop a list of best practices for preventing CSAM that online platform providers would have to follow or else lose their immunity under Section 230 — meaning they could be sued into bankruptcy. This commission would largely be made up of law enforcement and allied groups such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

According to Mullin, “The ‘best practices’ list will be created by a government commission, headed by Attorney General Barr, who has made it very clear he would like to ban encryption and guarantee law enforcement ‘legal access’ to any digital message.” 

Although the word “encryption” does not appear anywhere in the EARN IT bill, Mullin is suspicious of how the federal commission might design best practices. For instance, in an earlier draft of the bill, the NCMEC Vice-President stated that online services should be made to screen all messages using screening technology approved by themselves and law enforcement, report what they find in messages to the NCMEC and be held legally responsible for the content of the messages sent by others.

In short, the commission could quietly give backdoor access to all U.S. hosted information services, undoing encrypted messages altogether. 

Centralized Control and “Techlash”

Mullin, Pfefferkorn and other outspoken critics of EARN IT all agree that the bill’s proposed execution is opening the door for the elimination of encryption: the fact that it is never explicitly addressed is especially concerning.. 

According to Mullin, it’s also possible that the current draft of EARN IT will be amended to undo the damage it could do to online privacy. “Could be as straightforward as putting a clause in[,] saying the bill doesn’t apply to encryption,” he writes.

However, until some amendment occurs, critics are wary of a federal commission consisting of fewer than twenty people, according to the latest reports, who would be making large-scale privacy and security decisions for the entire U.S. population. 

Such a potentially big power grab would seem a bit ridiculous, but Pfefferkorn also acknowledged that EARN IT rides on a wave of resentment or “techlash” the U.S. population has begun to harbor against many internet-based companies. This animosity is directed toward both U.S. tech juggernauts, whose business models run off of surveillance capitalism and online free speech platforms which, for the average person, can feel like the “concentrated font of human venality every time we open our phones,” according to Pfefferkorn.

Private Messaging: A Prerequisite to Democracy

In general, free speech on social media platforms is already a nuanced and complicated topic. Even under Section 230, social media platforms can still censor content when they deem it inappropriate internally. For example, Twitter has a keyword blacklist and the protocol for how it works can change on a dime. 

For Nozomi Hayase, social psychologist and writer, surveillance of encrypted messaging is a movement toward forfeiting democracy. By Hayase’s reasoning, privacy is a prerequisite for a kind of solitude that allows people to think and act independently and is, therefore, essential to a functioning democratic society. 

“Democracy requires sovereign individuals who are able to communicate with one another freely. This freedom comes with great responsibility,” said Hayase, who recognized EARN IT as the newest installment of a dangerous trend toward online censorship. “If we really want to have a truly democratic society, we have to accept the fact that it is the duty of each person to develop his or her own moral capacity to determine what is right and wrong, instead of depending on an external authority to tell us what we should or should not do.”

Currently, EARN IT has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Citizens can contact their congressmen directly or take action through the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website.

The post EARN IT: The US Anti-Encryption Bill That Threatens Private Speech Online appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Source: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/earn-it-the-us-anti-encryption-bill-that-threatens-private-speech-online?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=earn-it-the-us-anti-encryption-bill-that-threatens-private-speech-online

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New stablecoin awaits approval from Kenyan regulators

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Members of the Young Entrepreneurs Network Africa in Nairobi, Kenya are developing the YENTS stablecoin, a native token of the entrepreneurs’ Network which is expected to launch in November this year, according to the report. YENTS token will be pegged to the Kenyan shilling or equivalent US dollar amount, on a one to one basis, the report stated. 

The Network’s CEO Kamau Nyabwengi, told that the YENTS token will be used for investment projects such as a planned golf course in Kenya, in about 18 months’ time. But initially, the network’s community will use YENTS to “pay for participation in sports events.” 

Nyabwengi further said they were currently testing the YENTS project in Kenya’s regulatory sandbox, which according to Nyabwengi would help them acquire “regulatory approval within Kenya.” Nyabwengi also aimed to further the use of YENTS stablecoin to other African countries, as well. 

However, Nyabwengi, who was all praise for blockchain tech believed that crypto-regulations in Africa still needed improvement to realize the full potential of the coin and its use-cases in financial investments via blockchain. 

Moreover, a study from blockchain analyzing firm, Chainalysis, found that Kenya ranked fifth worldwide and was even ahead of the U.S. in terms of crypto adoption. Additionally, South Africa and Nigeria were in seventh and eighth places, as seen in the image below:

Image Source: Chainanalysis

In other news, Luno’s general manager for Africa, Marius Reitz, said in a report that strict regulations stifle innovation within the crypto sector in Africa. Many believe that its strict crypto regulations could have been introduced to safeguard traders from the region’s infamous crypto-scams. However, the study from Chainalysis found that only a small number of traders fell for such scams compared to Africa’s western and eastern counterparts.

Source: https://eng.ambcrypto.com/new-stablecoin-awaits-approval-from-kenyan-regulators

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Huobi Guide & Exchange Review: How to Trade Options, Futures, and Perpetual Swaps

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Founded all the way back in 2013, Huobi Group is one of the leading blockchain companies in the industry.

It’s safe to say that the company has come a long way since then and it’s currently offering a variety of services for its wide user base. Employing people globally, Huobi offers a myriad of crypto-related services, including digital asset trading, wallet, mining pool, incubation, research, proprietary investment, and so forth.

Cryptocurrency trading has surged in interest throughout the past few years and exchanges such as Huobi have worked hard to expand their offerings. Derivatives products, apart from traditional spot trading, have exploded in interest, and Huobi is doing its best to accommodate.

Among its popular trading products are the futures, perpetual swaps, and options platforms. In this guide, we will take a closer look at how these tools operate and provide a step-by-step explanation of how to use them.

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Huobi Futures

UI/UX 10.0
Security 9.2
Coin Variety 10.0
Liquidity 10.0

Pros

  • Simplified trading interface with a variety of features, veteran exchange
  • One stop shop for trading futures, options, and perpetual swaps
  • An abundance of trading pairs to choose from

Cons

  • Limited assets for perpetual swap trading
  • Verification is mandatory for Huobi Futures

How to Register on Huobi?

Before anything else, however, you’d first have to register for an account. The process is fairly simple. There’s no mandatory Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedure for spot trading, but if you want to start using the derivatives platforms, the ID verification is obligatory.

This is how the registration screen looks like:

Huobi_1

All that is needed here is an email address that has to be verified through a verification code later on.

Once you have your account opened, it’s highly recommended to take a few additional security steps. First, it’s important to enable the Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), using the Google Authenticator app.

In addition, Huobi has taken a few extra steps that protect your account in the event of it being hacked such as email verification codes, phone verification codes, a designated fund password to ensure fiat asset security, and so forth.

If you want to trade on the derivatives platform, you’d have to go through an additional ID verification step which requires you to input your names, a government-issued passport, driving license or ID number, and upload a picture of it.

We’ve completed all the steps and, in our experience, the process was seamless and the KYC took no more than a few minutes to be completed and approved by Huobi’s team.

How to Deposit and Withdraw Funds?

Now that you have your account set up, it’s time to load it with some funds. Depositing is fairly straightforward and users can choose between a myriad of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, ETH, USDT, and many others.

From the top navigation bar, you need to hover over “Balances” and choose the account you wish to fund. Regardless of where you deposit initially, you can easily transfer the funds between the accounts – it’s instant.

Huobi_2

After you select the cryptocurrency you want to deposit, all you need to do is click on the “deposit” button, which will pull up this screen. In this case, we’ve deposited the stablecoin USDT.

Huobi_3

In any case, regardless of the cryptocurrency you deposit, make sure to correctly select the transaction network (when applicable) – in our case, we used USDT on Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard.

From here, you can make quick, zero-fees transfers between the different internal accounts and fund your derivatives one. All you need to do is open the account, select the currency that you want to transfer, specify the amount, and confirm the operation:

Huobi_4

Once this is done, you are ready to begin using the offered derivatives products. Let’s have a look at all of them.

How to Trade Bitcoin Options on Huobi?

Options contracts are one of the most popular derivatives, used constantly in traditional finance. Lately, there’s a huge demand for cryptocurrency options as well. However, keep in mind, derivatives and options are not recommended for beginners as they carry more risk.

Huobi Futures has a dedicated options platform where currently users can trade both Bitcoin and Ethereum options. In this guide, we will focus on Bitcoin.

By definition, an options contract represents an agreement between two parties to facilitate a transaction on the underlying asset (in this case – Bitcoin/USDT index), at a preset price (known as the Strike Price), prior to the expiration date.

Purchasing a CALL option means that the buyer has the right to buy BTC corresponding to the contract face value at the strike price. On the other hand, a PUT option means that the buyer has the right to sell BTC under the same conditions.

In the below example, we will show how you can buy a CALL contract on Bitcoin and all the necessary details. First, when you land on the Huobi Options trading platform, that’s what you will see: Huobi_5

In the top left corner is where you select the type of Bitcoin options contract you want to trade with. For this example, we’ve used the Weekly BTC contract with a strike price of $8,500 and expiry on September 18th, and a leverage level of 5x.

Below is the board where you can monitor the prices for the different contracts based on their strike price factor.

As can be seen in this example, our contract costs around $2,400 to buy (bid). Huobi uses a system where traders can open positions based on contracts, where one BTC options contract equals 0.001 BTC or about $10 at current rates, as of writing this guide.

The par-value for a contract of ETH option equals 0.01 ETH, or about $3 at current rates. Unlike other margin exchanges, users can join options trading on Huobi with fairly low entry barriers.

Now, let’s see how to open a CALL position, as we assume the price of Bitcoin will close above the strike price of $8,500 on September 18th.

Huobi_6

From the order menu, we’ve selected a price that we want to buy the contract at – it’s $2414 and the number of Contracts that we want to purchase, in this case, it’s the maximum amount of 25 contracts, which is about $250.

As soon as we hit the Buy Call button, our Limit order will be placed and when the Mark price of the contract reaches it, the order will be executed and we will have 25 Contracts ($10 each) giving us the right to buy Bitcoin at $8,500 (strike price) when the contract expires on September 18th.

If the price of Bitcoin is above $8,500, we will realize a profit, if it’s below that, we will lose the options premium.

Below is our open position – we managed to get in at a price of $2,459 – and we got 24 contracts open. Below the order box is where you can track your positions and their performance. Huobi_7

If you want to close the position, you can specify the price at which you want to close and the overall amount of your position that you want to close.

Now, in this example, we’ve only shown how to buy a CALL option for Bitcoin, but users can also buy PUT options and they can sell contracts as well. For detailed information on how to do those operations, you can check the official guide.

How to Trade Bitcoin Futures on Huobi?

Moving on, Bitcoin futures are also available on Huobi. Here, users can buy these contracts and speculate on whether or not the price of Bitcoin will be above or below the current price on a pre-set date.

Huobi_8
Huobi Futures interface

From the left pane, users can choose from a verity of the over 60 cryptocurrencies and the available futures contracts. For Bitcoin, Huobi offers weekly, bi-weekly, quarterly, and bi-quarterly contracts, and supports leverage up to 125x.

Basically, if you believe that the price of Bitcoin will be higher than the current price at the expiration date of a given contract, you should open a long (buy) position. If you think it’s going to be lower, you should open a short (sell) position.

How to Trade Bitcoin Perpetual Swaps

Perpetual swaps are probably the most popular cryptocurrency derivative instrument. They are like traditional futures with the exception that they don’t have an expiry date. In other words, traders can open and close them whenever they want to.

Huobi_9
Huobi Perpetual Swaps

It’s worth noting that Huobi even offers USDT/USD perpetual swaps with leverage of 1X -1000X, becoming the industry pioneer in USDT derivatives.

Besides, for the non-stablecoins,  traders can use perpetual swaps with extremely high leverage of up to 125X for BTC swaps and 75X for other swaps. In other words, you can open a position worth 125 times the amount you have in your account.

Huobi Futures offers different leverages such as 1x, 3x,5x,20x, 125x, and even 1000x. Users can choose freely according to their needs.

While this brings opportunities for big profits, please be aware that it’s also extremely risky as the slightest movement in the opposite direction of your position can liquidate your position, causing you to lose your capital. Using high leverage is definitely not recommended for inexperienced traders.

Customer Support

Huobi’s overall customer support is very satisfying. From our test experience, the team is very responsive and easy to communicate with.

Elsewhere, the KYC verification process is particularly quick. After we submitted the documents needed for the identity verification, the team took no more than a few minutes to have them checked and approved the account for trading.

Security: Is it Safe to Trade on Huobi Futures?

Huobi is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It’s an established company with thousands of employees. While it’s never recommended to keep a large amount of crypto in an exchange, Huobi is regarded as being very safe to use.

The team has also added a myriad of additional security features that users can opt in to further protect their accounts. Of course, you should also beware of scam artists and phishing attacks.

Trading Fees on Huobi

When it comes to the trading fees, Huobi has various fees on its platforms, so let’s have a look at a detailed breakdown for individual traders:

  • Futures Trading Fees

Huobi_10

  • Huobi Perpetual Swaps Trading Fees

Huobi_11

  • Huobi Options Trading Fees

Huobi_12

It’s also worth mentioning that Huobi Futures also provides VIP Sharing Program and Market Maker Program to lower big user’s switching costs to Huobi. For example, Huobi options maker fee rebate is as high as 0.003 USDT per contract.

Conclusion

In general, Huobi is one of the most reputable exchanges out there and they live up to the statements. The customer support is quick and easy to communicate with, the exchange offers a range of different tools to accommodate the needs of various traders.

Their Bitcoin Options trading platform is convenient, rather intuitive, and easy to work with. There’s a range of different contracts with various leverage options and expiration dates.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/huobi-guide-review-how-to-trade-options-futures/

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Was This The 3rd Largest Hack In Crypto History? Data Shows $280 Million Drained From KuCoin

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Newly aggregated data suggests that the hackers that recently compromised KuCoin’s hot wallets may have taken more than the estimated $150 million, as per the exchange’s report. Considering the updated numbers, the KuCoin hack would be the third-largest in history, with approximately $280 million stolen.

The KuCoin Hack: $280M Taken Instead Of $150M?

As CryptoPotato reported over the weekend, an unknown group of hackers exploited the hot wallets of the popular cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin. The platform quickly issued an official statement informing that the total amount stolen equaled $150 million worth of various digital assets.

Furthermore, KuCoin guaranteed that the exchange’s insurance fund will fully reimburse users.

However, the stolen amount could be significantly higher, according to the popular cryptocurrency researcher Larry Cermak. By examining wallets “very likely” associated with KuCoin, he estimated that the amount is actually $280 million, instead of $150 million.

Funds Stolen From KuCoin. Source: Twitter
Funds Stolen From KuCoin. Source: Twitter
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He admitted that some of the tokens have been “frozen, forked, and blacklisted,” but the numbers he came up “don’t reflect that.” Consequently, Cermak questioned KuCoin’s ability to indeed cover the stolen funds from its insurance fund.

Cermak also offered a list of the coins “likely” to be recovered – Velo ($76 million), Tether ($22 million), Orion ($10 million), KardiaChain ($10 million), Ocean Protocol ($9 million), VIDT Datalink ($7 million), NOIA Network ($5 million), and Covesting ($600,000). This equals about 50% of all stolen funds.

Was This The Third-Largest Crypto Hack Ever?

If Cermak’s data is accurate, the KuCoin hack would be the third-largest to date in the cryptocurrency field.

The most significant one came in early January 2018. The victim was the Japanese digital asset exchange Coincheck.

After announcing that the platform has seized all NEM deposits, Coincheck later froze all NEM sales, purchases, and withdrawals. Later on, the exchange confirmed that perpetrators had swiped about $535 million worth of NEM. Interestingly, all stolen funds were grabbed again from the exchange’s hot wallets.

The second-largest hack occurred on maybe the most famous Bitcoin Japanese exchange – MT.GOX. In early 2014, the platform suspended all transactions, closed the site, and declared bankruptcy. A few months down the road, it became clear that MT.GOX was drained for about 850,000 Bitcoins – worth about $460 million at the time, and a lot more as of today’s BTC values.

According to a Tokyo-based security company that presented evidence in 2015, “most or all of the missing bitcoins were stolen straight out of the MT.GOX hot wallet over time.”

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Binance Futures 50 USDT FREE Voucher: Use this link to register & get 10% off fees and 50 USDT when trading 500 USDT (limited – first 200 sign-ups & exclusive to CryptoPotato).

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/was-this-the-3rd-largest-hack-in-crypto-history-data-shows-280-million-drained-from-kucoin/

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