Hits and Misses

Stop Calling Tor ‘The Web Browser For Criminals’

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Yesterday, a rumor surfaced on deep web blog DeepDotWeb that Comcast was going to start blocking users of Tor, an anonymous web browser. Comcast Vice President Jason Livingood immediately and rightfully called bullshit, because for all of its customer service foibles, Comcast knows that preventing people from browsing the Internet anonymously would be a daring infringement on user privacy.

The confusion came to rest shortly after the posting of a Business Insider story called “Comcast Denies It Will Cut Off Customers Who Use Tor, The Web Browser For Criminals.” Besides reaffirming the simple notion that you shouldn’t just believe something you read on a subreddit, the story — which was viewed over 22,000 times — reaffirms the notion that Tor is a tool for evil. Read More

Social Network of No

Social Network Is Powerless to Prevent ISIS From Using it to Recruit, Organize

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App creators are often surprised by how people end up using their creations. Unfortunately for *diaspora, a hands-off social network that allows people to control their own decentralized groups, their software is being used by terrorists.

Terrorist organization ISIS has now fled other social networks to the aptly named diaspora*, a company that, by its own admission, can’t actually kick anyone off of their network. diaspora* has responded by publishing a blog post advising their citizen moderators how to deal with accounts that could belong to terrorist organizations:

diaspora* is a completely decentralized network which, by its nature, consists of many small servers exchanging posts and messages. There is no central server, and there is therefore no way for the project’s core team to manipulate or remove contents from a particular node in the network (which we call a “pod”). This may be one of the reasons which attracted IS activists to our network.

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genius dispatch

Novelty Rules: Inside China’s Startup Culture with George Ruan

George Ruan.

My homie George Ruan is a serial entrepreneur with experience in China. Both of us are passionate about Bitcoin. China is my favorite country, and – especially with the advent of Bitcoin – the Chinese Internet intrigues me. Chinese people do everything better than us, so I am pretty sure someday the Chinese Internet will be much better than our crappy Internet. The Chinese version of Genius is going to be way better, for sure, since the entire website is a Confucian concept…

George was kind enough to sit me down and school me to the memes. He is currently the CEO of Honey, dope startup in Pasadena. Read More

Bitcoin Nation

You Can Now Sign Your Name Digitally Using The Same Technology as Bitcoin

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Since cryptocurrency cultists began buzzing about bitcoin years ago, they’ve hinted that bitcoin’s technology might have much bigger implications than the ability to just move around digital coins. As Bitcoin startups become fintech’s latest craze, these kinds of applications are starting to rear their head in the startup community.

Blocksign, a startup that launches this morning, is using bitcoin’s giant records database, the Blockchain, to build an entirely un-financial application. Their service lets you sign legally binding documents and agreements in the same system that keeps all records of bitcoin transactions. Read More

Bitcoin Mania

Bitcoin Startups Are Raking in Record Amounts of VC Cash

Child movie star Brock Pierce has gone on to lead a syndicate of 57 angel investors who invest in crypocurrency startups. (Photo via Brock Pierce)

At first, bitcoin was just the purview of cryptography nerds and libertarian redditors. Since then, digital currencies have been used to fund everything from World Cup betting rings to congressional elections. Now that bitcoin is out in front of legislators and safer than ever to use, investors are starting to pour record amounts into bitcoin startups.

From April through June of this year, bitcoin startups pulled in a record $76.8 million in investments, which is almost as much as the entirety of 2013, CB Insights reports. Read More

Bitcoin Nation

Capitol Hill Is Hosting Its First Bitcoin Demo Day Today

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Rep. Jared Polis, the “Gamer Congressman,” has been a big advocate for Bitcoin on Capitol Hill. He’s taken BTC for campaign donation, lampooned his colleagues for speaking out against Bitcoin, and invited fellow congressmen to give Bitcoin a shot. Now, he’s helping bring Washington, D.C. its first Bitcoin Startup Demo Day.

Today, a few major Bitcoin startups like Coinbase, BitPay and BitGO will set up shop in the Rayburn House Office Building to convince Washington regulators to embrace Bitcoin. They’ll be joined by major companies who have successfully integrated Bitcoin into their business models, like Expedia, who started taking payments in Bitcoin earlier this summer and have been more than happy with the results. Read More

Expert Thoughts

“Bitcoin Is The Truth,” Says Rap Genius Founder Mahbod Moghadam

Mahbod Moghadam (Photo via Facebook)

My introduction to Bitcoin came from the smartest living man. Balaji Srinivasan is the youngest General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Currently he is building a development wing for Andreessen—a project that, to my knowledge, no VC has ever undertaken. Ben Horowitz calls him “Young Einstein”.

Balaji is Indian, but has piercing green eyes. Looking at his face is hypnotic. He is a prodigy — he started teaching at Stanford when he was 26. The first time I met him, he took me to brunch in Williamsburg and we discussed asking Nas to record a diss track on this bitch-ass tech reporter whom we both loathe…

The conversation quickly turned to Bitcoin. Read More