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Anti-Vaxer Conspiracy Theorists Have a New Surprising Target

“Don’t Blockchain Our Babies!” screamed a placard at a recent anti-lockdown rally in London. Here’s why.

Republished by Plato

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In brief

  • Blockchain was targeted at an anti-lockdown rally in London last weekend.
  • But protestors’ placards, referring to the WEF “blockchaining” babies, created confusion.
  • The technology appears to be aligned with the aims of conspiracy theorists, such as QAnon believers.

LONDON—Conspiracy theorists mingled with X-Factor stars and Barbie lookalikes, amid a sea of people who did not like being told what to do, at the climax of the anti-lockdown march in Trafalgar Square last Sunday. 

Their sentiments, richly varied and strongly felt, were echoed across Europe. Similar marches took place in Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and Zurich last weekend, with tens of thousands of protestors turning out to express an assortment of gripes: disaffection with the handling of the coronavirus crisis, fears about compulsory vaccinations, anger about mandatory mask-wearing, and loopy ideas that the pandemic was a hoax propagated by 5G masts.

 Now we can add blockchain phobia to that list. 

“Don’t Blockchain Our Babies! World Economic Forum,” screamed one placard, belonging to a nonchalant-looking protestor, sitting atop one of the stone lions guarding Nelson’s Column. “We do not consent to your technocracy,” proclaimed another. In the foreground, former X-Factor contestant Chico, addressed the crowd.

Were these QAnon supporters, as the press alleged? Was it a prank spin on the anti-vax movement? What could it mean? Decrypt set out to discover what in the world is going on with the tin-foil crowd and blockchain.

An open door to digital identity

British entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Simon Dolan was one of the march promoters and is the founder of liberty-loving organization Keep Britain Free (KBF), a loose collective of individuals with a wide range of grievances, including compulsory vaccinations, and the government’s handling of the coronavirus. 

But blockchain? “No idea, I’m afraid,” Dolan told Decrypt

A Donald Trump fan, Dolan recently made headlines when he called for a judicial review on the proportionality of the UK Government response to the coronavirus, and he’s no fan of the prospective government-backed, digital ID scheme either. 

But blockchain isn’t in the frame there—or is it? 

“What is most relevant from the blockchain perspective is that [the UK government is] trying to identify and remove legal obstacles to the use of identity technologies, and that would include blockchain-based identity technologies,” said Ian Brown, a security and privacy IT specialist. Brown was part of the UK Government’s Privacy Advisory Group which explored digital identity during the call for proposals for its digital identity service Verity

He said that, while he’s not a blockchain enthusiast, the policy the government is pursuing will open the door to blockchain-based ID systems. The Times reported that these plans are part of Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Dominic Cummings’s aims to “revolutionize the use of data across government.” 

Cummings’ views on blockchain are unknown, but the highly unusual job advert on his personal blog urging “super-talented weirdos” to join Her Majesty’s civil service would be a great fit for swathes of the blockchain and crypto industry. 

Babes in chains

But what of the World Economic Forum’s role in all of this? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones blockchaining babies? 

It turns out that there is indeed a World Economic Forum-affiliated project on blockchain-based identity solutions targeting young children.  

Necker Island, in the Caribbean, is privately owned by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson. Image: Flickr

The World Identity Network (WIN), a nonprofit advocating for blockchain-based universal identity, was launched in 2017 on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island. It’s reportedly working on the world’s first pilot that will use blockchain technology to help combat child trafficking.

On its face, one would think the project would thrill conspiracy theorists. The QAnon cult is waging a war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles. So you’d think that they’d approve of a blockchain-based plan to stop child sex trafficking.

You’d be wrong: The QAnon crowd hates Branson. They believe he is a child sex trafficker and was listed among the hundreds of celebs in Jeffrey Epstein’s “little black book.” Just as bad is the fact that Branson is pals with Bill Gates—the biggest bogeyman of all, according to the tin-foil hat crowd. 

A favorite conspiracy theory is that Gates wants to use vaccination programs as a cover to put microchips into newborns, using RFID technology as a means of tracking and controlling them. Maybe the conspiracy theorists think blockchain will be added to the mix?

“Whether it’s the blockchain, Bill Gates or bots, it is simply an emblem of modernity that the QAnon crowd focus their anger on,” said David Birch, author of “The Currency Cold War: Cash and Cryptography, Hash Rates and Hegemony.”  

Conspiring to confuse

A Branson-based blockchain aside, it’s still a bit weird that the “don’t blockchain our babies” protestors are opposed to a technology that is so well aligned with their own desires for privacy, liberty, and zero censorship. 

Last week, news reports fingered Jim Watkins, owner of anarchist messaging board 8chan (now renamed 8kun), as the odds on favorite to be QAnon himself. And his son, Ron, loves him some blockchain—according to this fascinating Coindesk piece. (Watkins pere denies being QAnon.)

Watkins junior told Coindesk that he thinks blockchain could play a key role in a defensive infrastructure to prevent free-speech platforms like 8kun from being de-platformed. His experiments with it to date haven’t exactly panned out—yet. 

But he’s not giving up. His latest, Project Odin, involves 8kun’s users running front-end nodes that support the website. Indeed, it’s due to launch very soon, he told Decrypt

So does it use blockchain?

“I can’t remember if Odin has blockchain implementations or not. It’s been a few months since I looked at the code,” said Watkins.

Which is super confusing. But maybe that’s the intention.

Source: https://decrypt.co/40895/anti-vaxer-conspiracy-theorists-new-surprising-target

Blockchain

The Changes Continue: Facebook’s Libra Has Been Rebranded To Diem

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  • Facebook shook the world last year after announcing plans to introduce a “single global digital currency” dubbed Libra. However, the social media giant’s efforts were quickly scalded by global regulators as the project received massive blowback.
  • Facebook didn’t give up on its idea. Instead, the company decided to rebrand its two main products. Firstly, the Calibra wallet became Novi, and today, Reuters reported that the Libra name had been changed to Diem (meaning ‘day’ in Latin.) 
  • Stuart Levey, CEO of the Geneva-based Diem Association behind the digital coin, confirmed that the name change comes as a direct consequence of the regulatory hurdles. He noted that “the original name was tied to an early iteration of the project that received a difficult reception from regulators. We have dramatically changed that proposition.”
  • The Diem currency would operate as a signal dollar-backed digital coin. Although Levey failed to specify the timing of the launch, recent reports suggested that it may arrive as early as January 2021. 
  • Levey further explained that the Novi team has already begun building a digital wallet that will eventually hold Diem coins. Apart from waiting for approval from Swiss regulators to launch, the Diem Network is also in talks with US federal and state watchdogs. However, Levey didn’t disclose the nature of those negotiations. 
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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/the-changes-continue-facebooks-libra-has-been-rebranded-to-diem/

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Coinbase Faciliated MicroStrategy’s $425M Bitcoin Purchase Without Moving The Market

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The leading US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase assisted in MicroStrategy’s massive purchase of $425 million worth of BTC. The platform pledged to help other large firms diversify their portfolios with bitcoin in the future as well.

Coinbase Involved In MicroStrategy’s BTC Purchase

The NASDAQ-listed business intelligence firm made the news on two occasions earlier this year as it announced the total purchase of 38,250 bitcoins. At the time, this sizeable amount equaled about $425 million.

However, the entity that helped broker the deal remained unknown until today. The San Francisco-based crypto exchange Coinbase announced that it was “selected as the primary execution partner for MicroStrategy’s $425 million purchase of Bitcoin.”

The community speculated on how such a considerable amount didn’t move the markets as the price of BTC remained relatively still back then. Coinbase explained that this was the company’s intention in the first place:

“Using our advanced execution capabilities, leading crypto prime brokerage platform, and OTC desk, we were able to buy a significant amount of bitcoin on behalf of MicroStrategy and did so without moving the market.”

Furthermore, the exchange noted that its system takes a single large order and breaks it into many small pieces that are executed across multiple trading venues. This type of smart order routing reduces the trade’s impact on the market and assists in disguising the overall trade size.

This also helped MicroStrategy to get a better price for its BTC purchase as Coinbase’s trading team “achieved an average execution price that was less than the price at which the buying started.” The post highlighted that this strategy ultimately saved 1% (or about $4.25 million) for the NASDAQ-listed company.

More Large Companies To Come?

MicroStrategy’s purchase kicked off a wave of large companies and prominent individual investors who expressed willingness to get in bitcoin as well.

Jack Dorsey’s Square followed with a $50 million BTC allocation. More recently, the Wall Street giant Guggenheim Partners filed a document with the SEC to purchase about $500 million worth of bitcoin for one of its funds.

Coinbase asserted that more firms will look to BTC to hedge or diversify their excess cash. Consequently, the large US exchange will “look forward to helping more corporate companies and institutions looking to diversify their capital allocation strategies with crypto.”

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/coinbase-faciliated-microstrategys-425m-bitcoin-purchase-without-moving-the-market/

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Blockchain

U.S. DoJ Extradites Key Member of Crypto Ponzi Scheme From Panama

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has extradited a principal member of a fraudulent cryptocurrency mining and trading platform from Panama to the United States.

AirBit Club Co-founder to Face Criminal Charges in the U.S.

According to an announcement by the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, U.S. authorities were able to extradite Gutemberg Dos Santos, co-founder of crypto Ponzi scheme AirBit Club.

Dos Santos, who holds dual citizenship from Brazil and the United States, was extradited to the U.S. from Panama on Nov. 23, 2020. According to Strauss, Dos Santos’ repatriation was possible with the help of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

As reported by CryptoPotato back in August, the U.S. authorities arrested five individuals who were involved in the AirBit Club scheme that fleeced unsuspecting victims of $20 million. Operators of the crypto Ponzi scheme ran false advertisements that promised users hyperbolic rewards from Bitcoin trading and mining.

However, the DoJ at the time alleged that the group only sought to live flamboyant lifestyles of victims’ funds. While spending money on luxury homes and cars, they reportedly made more moves to recruit more victims across the U.S and different other countries.

A statement from the DoJ document reads:

“The extradition of Dos Santos reflects the determination of agents from HSI New York’s El Dorado Financial Crimes Task Force to dismantle global criminal organizations, wherever the investigation takes us. Utilizing our broad authorities and network of law enforcement partners, HSI will continue to hunt those who allegedly prey upon innocent citizens for financial gain.”

Also, if Dos Santos is found guilty of the charges levied against him, the AirtBit Club co-founder could face between 20-30 years in prison.

Law Enforcement Fighting Crypto Crimes

Regulatory authorities globally continue to warn investors about fake crypto-related schemes that promise high returns. According to a recent report by CryptoPotato, Chinese authorities confiscated $4 billion worth of crypto tokens from PlusToken scammers.

PlusToken, which is one of the biggest cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes, promised users high returns, similar to other crypto fraudulent projects. The Chinese law enforcement began investigating the project after it shut down in 2019. In July, the police arrested 27 key members of the scam project, along with 82 other members.

Another major fraudulent crypto scheme, OneCoin, reportedly stole $4 billion from investors with its founder Ruja Ignatova also known as “Crypto Queen,” still at large. Meanwhile, Ruja’s brother Konstantin Ignatov has been arrested by the U.S. authorities since 2019 and could face a 90-year prison sentence.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/u-s-doj-extradites-key-member-of-crypto-ponzi-scheme-from-panama/

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