WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently being held on remand in a London maximum-security prison, solely on the basis of a U.S. extradition request. Assange has been charged with 17 counts of espionage related to WikiLeaks’ 2010 to 2011 publications concerning the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassing U.S. diplomatic communications and evidence of torture in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Assange’s U.S. extradition case is recognized by free speech groups as the most important press freedom case of the 21st century. As the aggressive judicial overreach of this U.S. government is already creating a chilling effect on reporters and media organizations, some recognize consequences far beyond the future of journalism.
Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, who regularly attends cryptocurrency conferences, has warned those who are involved in the development of new technologies that they are not immune to suffering the same fate as his son.
How does the prosecution of Assange threaten the crypto movement? And why does the Bitcoin community need to be concerned about his plight for freedom?
At its heart, WikiLeaks is an innovative endeavor. Started as a project of Sunshine Press, it was an invention of a new form of journalism built on the platform of the internet. On its website’s “About” page, WikiLeaks described how it started with an online dialogue between activists around the world, who shared their aspiration to eliminate injustice and human suffering caused by the abuses of power of corporations and governments, especially oppressive regimes.
WikiLeaks also acknowledges the efforts of Philip Zimmerman, the creator of an encryption software program known as Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, and how the vision of this lone computer programmer in Colorado instigated a global revolution for mass distribution of privacy technologies.
Inspired by this pioneer of private and secure online communication, the founding members of WikiLeaks sought for a way to deploy information technologies to create a robust system of publishing that protects the anonymity of sources and enables transparency of the powerful. This new journalistic organization aimed to make “document leaking technology” available at a global scale in order to better bring accountability to governments and other institutions.
The Crypto Wars
History has shown how new ideas and inventions are often met with opposition and fierce condemnation by the state. At the start of the 1990s, when Zimmermann released PGP, the U.S. government considered what he had done the equivalent of exporting munitions. It launched a three-year criminal investigation against him, creating a battle over encryption that became known to some as “The Crypto Wars.” The case was eventually dropped when U.S. courts ruled that software source code qualifies as speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Two decades later, WikiLeaks’ efforts to amplify information technologies to tackle the problem of government secrecy created another global revolution, this time disrupting the media landscape. Like its forerunner, this new free press of the digital age soon became a target of political retaliation.
After WikiLeaks released classified documents that revealed U.S. war crimes, the U.S. government decided that its editor-in-chief had damaged national security, though it produced no shred of evidence that the published documents caused any harm. It effectively declared war on the First Amendment, charging an Australian journalist under the Espionage Act in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Just as in the first Crypto War, where it tried to ban encryption, it was now trying to shut down WikiLeaks.
What is this new Crypto War — now being waged against the whistleblowing site — all about? This battle is not just about Assange as an individual. While mainstream media fixates on Assange and his character, WikiLeaks is not driven solely by one charismatic man. Behind the organization, there are thousands of ordinary people worldwide who are dedicated to the principle of freedom of speech.
At the end of 2010, when WikiLeaks began publishing troves of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, its website came under heavy pressure by the U.S. government and its allies. Insurgency swiftly emerged from deep inside the web to help WikiLeaks counteract distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks. By keeping multiple copies of its website, and setting up mirror sites, anonymous networks allowed information to continue to flow.
Inspiring those collective acts of resistance in an underground subculture of the internet are shared values and ideals, embodied in the cypherpunk philosophy. Emerging in the late 1980s, the cypherpunk movement is a loosely tied group of mathematicians, computer scientists and online activists who advocate privacy through the use of strong cryptography.
Shifting the Balance of Power
Assange is known to have joined the cypherpunk mailing list in late 1993 or early 1994. His engagement with those on the edges on the internet had a large influence on his intellectual development. The native Australian software programmer and expert in cryptography once summed up the core values behind WikiLeaks by saying, “capable, generous men do not create victims, they nurture victims.”
He acknowledged this is something that he learned from his own father and other capable, generous men in his life. This moral value, installed at an early age, found practical application in the cypherpunks’ core belief: “Cryptography can be a key tool for protecting individual autonomy threatened by power.”
In his 2006 essay “Conspiracy as Governance”, a kind of manifesto from which WikiLeaks was conceived, Assange analyzed the structure of power and means to shift the balance of power between the individual and the state. By using cryptography as a “non-violent democratic weapon that gives claws to the weak,” Assange found a way to provide information to the public, to hold the powerful accountable, and to help ordinary people empower themselves with knowledge.
Ethics of Cryptography
Cypherpunks saw the political implications of their work and strove for proper use of the power inherent in cryptography. This attitude has shaped the ethics of cryptographers and defined cypherpunk cryptography as “crypto with values.”
Eric Hughes who, in 1992, co-founded the influential cypherpunk mailing list, together with Timothy C. May and John Gilmore, described those values as openness, the free flow of information and decentralization. In “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto,” published in 1993, he declared that “code is free for all to use, worldwide.” Assange also articulated the moral values of cypherpunks, noting “the whole point of free software is to liberate it in all senses.” He added that, “It’s part of the intellectual heritage of man. True intellectual heritage can’t be bound up in intellectual property.”
Instead of claiming ownership of their knowledge, cypherpunks aimed to build software on a ground of free sharing and open platforms, in which everyone can participate and make contributions to the development and utilization.
Zimmermann gave PGP away online, making the source code free and freely available. Through people all over the world simply downloading and using it, the decentralization of that technology helped to secure the right to privacy at a large scale. By deploying an anonymous, secure drop box, WikiLeaks made it possible for people around the globe to speak out against their governments’ wrongdoing without fear of their identity being revealed. Courage of whistleblowers became contagious, creating waves of disclosures. WikiLeaks, powered by free software, began to liberate information that had been captured under the proprietary ownership of corporations and governments.
It is with this cypherpunk vision of ethics that Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, also published its white paper online. The invention of Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, unleashed the revolutionary power of cryptography. This community-driven, free software project set in motion a decentralized movement to liberate money from the monopoly of central banks. By people across the world simply choosing to run full nodes, each containing a complete record of all Bitcoin transactions, a network secures this stateless digital cash as a form of free speech that belongs to everyone.
Years before the U.S. government’s assault on free speech escalated into the indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin recognized the potential fate that would befall the world’s first global Fourth Estate.
In December 2010, WikiLeaks faced the unlawful financial blockade imposed by private payment processing companies, and the organization was considering using Bitcoin to circumvent it. Satoshi, who was concerned about the risk of drawing unwanted government attention to his then infant currency, appealed to WikiLeaks not to take such action.
In an online post, Satoshi noted that, “WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”
WikiLeaks eventually did turn to Bitcoin to achieve financial sovereignty. And now the swarm is now getting larger, bringing a new war on cryptography.
Currency of Resistance
The citizens of the internet have been longing for another world, independent from the old world of exploitation, violence and control. Dreams for freenet, for the internet to become an emancipatory tool for building peer-to-peer systems, have united people around the world together in the frontier of cyberspace.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s prosecution of Assange is a direct attack on freedom of expression; people’s ability to form and exchange ideas and collaborate creatively. What is now being threatened is our shared values and a vision for the future of the internet at the heart of Bitcoin’s decentralized consensus.
Bitcoin, from its inception, was a political act. This is shown in the highly politicized message in the genesis block, referring to a banking bailout. In the lively discussion of public cryptography in 1992 on the cypherpunk mailing list, the late Hal Finney, a noted cryptographer who is considered to be one of the earliest Bitcoin pioneers, reminded us of the ethical responsibility of cryptographers:
“The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them,” Finney, who received the very first bitcoin transaction sent by Satoshi, wrote, urging Bitcoin early adopters to put their “unearned wealth to good use.”
Now, as Assange’s U.S. extradition battle intensifies, the internet is calling for the rise of cypherpunks ‚ Assange’s fellow “capable generous men,” who exercise their power for social good to unite once again and take up their moral duty. The future of the internet believes in Bitcoin, the potential of this “crypto with values” to become the currency of resistance to defend its freedom.
Author’s Note: WikiLeaks has launched the official campaign page, “Don’t Extradite Assange.” You can get information on how you can help stop Assange’s extradition. Please consider donating to the WikiLeaks official Defense Fund and take action.
This is a guest post by Nozomi Hayase. Opinions expressed are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
The post Julian Assange’s U.S. Extradition and Bitcoin’s Battle for Freedom of the Internet appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Legacy Records, The First Record Label Paying Music Artists In Crypto
From painters to digital artists to musicians, crypto continues to find integration across artistic mediums. Music continues to be a field that is ripe for revitalization, from a business standpoint. Accordingly, a number of different musicians have been releasing songs and albums as NFTs. Now, we have what’s being reported as the first official record label looking to get involved. The label looks to have artists join the ranks of other musicians getting involved in crypto.
In a press release issued to start this week, Legacy Records CEO Keishia McLeod said it came down to “either get involved or get left behind”. McLeod cited unique income stream opportunities for artists and closed by saying that “this is the future, not a trend”. McLeod has stated previously her intent to drive the label to be at the forefront of leveraging emerging technology in music.
There are two major buckets contributing to Legacy’s approach. The first is the most notable, as the label will become the first to offer artists an opportunity to receive their advance and royalty payments in the form of crypto. The second is to engage artists with NFTs, allowing fans to participate in auctions for unique content. The label’s specific plans around NFTs, and number of artists seeking to get paid in crypto, have not yet been disclosed.
As the crypto market grows, both artists and businesses are getting involved | Source: CRYPTOCAP-TOTAL on TradingView.com
Legacy Music’s Broader Business Growth
Las Vegas-based Legacy Records, not to be confused with Sony’s Legacy Recordings, will look to take advantage of the potential press buzz from the announcement. However, in tandem with the release, the label also announced a to-be-name music distributor who has also agreed to pay Legacy Records artists in bitcoin. The label also merged with New Jersey entertainment lawyer Navarro Gray’s ‘The Gray Firm’, to provide legal guidance around digital execution.
McLeod has noted previously that the label has desired being a mainstay in revolutionizing the way music artists do business. In a January interview with the LA Tribune, McLeod cited Netflix’s impact on the film industry, adding that “we haven’t seen that yet in this industry, but it’s coming. We’re going to be a large part of making that happen”.
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Music Artists Emerging Into Crypto
Legacy’s roster has the potential to join a growing list of music artists that continue to engage with crypto and NFTs. Last month, we wrote about long-time hip-hop artist Eminem partnering with Nifty Gateway to release original instrumental beats. Saturday Night Live promptly had a sketch explaining the digital collectibles parodying Eminem’s “Without Me”.
Other musicians engaging with NFTs include DJ Premier, 3LAU, The Weeknd, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and more.
Each week, our team recaps the week’s NFT action with ‘NFTs In A Nutshell‘ – covering everything NFT, from sport, music, and more.
Featured image from Pixabay, Charts from TradingView.com
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Speculation Tesla Dumped Its Bitcoin Holdings Denied By Musk
Elon Musk puts to bed rumors that Tesla has sold its remaining Bitcoin holdings. The comments came following his second attack on the leading cryptocurrency. This time, he called out the dominance of Chinese mining pools in a now-deleted tweet.
Bitcoin continued from its weekend slide with another drop today, currently down 5% at the time of writing. Given Musk’s apparent influence on markets, some insist he exercises more restraint on social media.
Tesla Has Not Dumped Its Bitcoin
Last week, the Tesla boss announced his firm would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its EVs. The reason he gave was a growing concern about the use of highly polluting coal by miners.
This coincided with a mass sell-off in which Bitcoin was hit particularly hard, closing the day down 13% to $49.5k.
Today, Musk tweeted that Bitcoin is highly centralized due to the small number of mining pools that control the network. He maintains that coal is a significant power source for miners, despite counter claims that the network runs mostly on renewable sources.
“A single coal mine in Xinjiang flooded, almost killing miners, and Bitcoin hash rate dropped 35%. Sound decentralized to you?”
In amongst the responses, @CryptoWhale suggested that Tesla will sell their Bitcoin holdings. Adding that, if that happened, Bitcoiners would only have themselves to blame. He was referring to the outpouring of hate directed at Musk.
Bitcoiners are going to slap themselves next quarter when they find out Tesla dumped the rest of their #Bitcoin holdings.
With the amount of hate @elonmusk is getting, I wouldn’t blame him…
— Mr. Whale (@CryptoWhale) May 16, 2021
Musk replied to the tweet with a response of “Indeed.” Some publications interpreted this as confirmation that Musk had already dumped his Bitcoin holdings.
But in a semblance of grace, Musk put the record straight by saying Tesla has not dumped its BTC holdings.
“To clarify speculation, Tesla has not sold any Bitcoin.”
However, with everything that has gone on since last week, is it only a matter of time before Tesla sells up?
Musk Should Be Aware Of His Influence In Moving Markets
Key crypto figures have rallied together in support of Bitcoin. Michael Saylor announced a $15 million BTC buy adding to MicroStrategy’s already substantial war chest, while Jack Dorsey tweeted a message of support in improving its green credentials.
However, @PlanB took a less nuanced approach by accused Musk of deliberating trying to destroy Bitcoin. The comment came in a poll asking his followers whether Musk has derailed Bitcoin from meeting expectations per the stock-to-flow model (S2F).
S2F refers to a predictive model based on scarcity over time. PlanB, who adapted it for Bitcoin use, puts the price of BTC at a minimum of $100,000 by year-end.
The Managing Partner and Co-founder of Nexo, Antoni Trenchev, said Musk should “wake up” to his influence in moving markets.
“He has to wake up to the reality that with his following, even single-worded tweets can move markets.”
But as some would suggest, he is already well aware of his clout in that regard.
Source: BTCUSD on TradingView.com
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Cardano, Ethereum, Polkadot Price Analysis: 17 May
Cardano could witness an extended rally if losses are maintained at $2.17. Ethereum broke south from a descending triangle and lost a key support region at $3,620. Finally, Polkadot was in danger of a sharp sell-off in case of a break below $38.5.
Volumes on Cardano took a dip over the last 24 hours as buying activity came to a halt. After an impressive run that saw ADA post weekly gains of 22%, a correction had finally hit the market. A fall of 8% dragged ADA towards a newly discovered support zone at $2.17. A stronger support area lay between $1.82-1.48 and even clashed with the 20-SMA (blue). This confluence between the moving average and support zones would see a re-emergence of buyers should another dip take place.
Post the pullback, ADA presented the next target at $2.50. This psychological level could be snapped during the current bull run if buyers trimmed losses at $2.17. RSI moved south from the overbought zone but would likely stay in bullish territory above 55. ADX rose north of 32 and highlighted a strong trend in the market.
The more price-sensitive 4-hour timeframe highlighted certain bearish conditions in the Ethereum market that were hard to overlook. A descending triangle breakdown showed losses of 11% from the bottom trendline. This trendline also represented a strong defensive point at $3,620 and a southbound move saw extended losses up to $3,200. A green candlestick did indicate some bullish response and a rise above $3,620 could initiate a recovery towards $3,800.
Lower lows on RSI indicated weakening and confirmed ETH’s short-term bearish movement. Awesome Oscillator highlighted profit-taking as selling pressure was on the up. In case of further losses, 200-SMA around $3,000 could form another defensive barrier. Alternatively, the level around $3,800 saw some interplay between the 20-SMA (blue) and 50-SMA (yellow) and reclaiming this could trigger another bull run.
The formation of three candlesticks or ‘three black crows’ following an uptrend highlighted a strong shift of dynamics for Polkadot. Sharp bearish action dragged DOT below multiple support levels mentioned in a previous analysis. However, the daily timeframe outlined another buy zone at $38.5- a region that coincided with the 20-SMA and 50-SMA.
A break below this critical point could lead to an extended sell-off all the way towards $21.6 and 200-SMA (green). Conversely, a break above $44.5-$48 resistance could initiate a price hike. A bearish crossover in Stochastic RSI thwarted chances of a favorable outcome. Squeeze Momentum Indicator noted weakening buying pressure and a move below half-line would present sell signals.
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