Crypto is back in the news for illicit use, Buterin wants less influence, and CryptoKitties are on the loose.
Here is some of what’s happening for Friday, November 2, 2018:
Buterin Says It’s Better To Fade Away
At Devcon4, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin painted a roadmap for Ethereum’s future success, and it does not include as much of him. MIT Technology Review published an article yesterday in which Buterin indicates he must be less central to the community in order for Ethereum to grow.
Buterin may be taking inspiration from Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin who, after releasing the Bitcoin Core software and stabilizing the Bitcoin blockchain, left the project to never be heard from again.
Citing Twitter conversations suggesting the community is ready to move away from a core of minders toward true decentralization, Buterin told MIT Technology Review, “I think people are kind of really feeling that.”
This move comes at a time when Ethereum is on the brink of significant change. Among the issues currently being discussed include a change of the consensus protocol from proof of work to proof of stake and the integration of “Ethereum 2.0” – which Buterin helped develop.
CryptoKitties Scores Venture Capital from Google, Samsung
From the “So, that happened” file: Dapper Lab, the developer of the Ethereum-based CryptoKitties, has completed a $15 million fundraising cycle. As reported by Bloomberg, the Rockefeller family’s venture capital arm Venrock led the funding, with assists from the venture capital arms of Google’s Alphabet and Samsung Next.
The exact nature of the deal has yet to be disclosed, reflecting either the confidentiality of the deal or that the specifics are still being ironed out. Dapper Labs has tallied up to $27.8 million in publicly-disclosed venture capital funding, including this round.
CryptoKitties is a virtual cat breeding and collecting game based on Ethereum Dapps. In 2017, the game was blamed for the congestion on Ethereum. Earlier this month, CryptoKitties reached a milestone with its one millionth feline.
Dapper is attempting to replicate the success of casual game maker Zynga, but for blockchain games. Zynga is one of the largest game producers in the world, with titles like “Farmville” and a current market valuation of $3.09 billion.
“Everyone thought CryptoKitties was about buying cats,” said Roham Gharegozolou, Dapper CEO, to Bloomberg. “But it’s only the first step in a bigger vision. We believe that blockchain is going to change the everyday life for everyday people. We see it as a new platform the way social networks were, or the way mobile was a few years ago.”
Cryptocurrencies May Be Enabling Child Abuse in the Philippines
Channel News Asia is reporting that – as part of a continuing investigation – it found evidence to suggest that cryptocurrency has been enabling pedophilia and other acts of child abuse in the Philippines. As the child cybersex industry in the country grows more sophisticated, cryptocurrency is being used to conceal the transfer of money.
Citing a report from the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, Channel News Asia asserts that cryptocurrency is a driver for the proliferation of live-streaming child sexual abuse. While – for example – live abuse or instruction to have children perform sexual acts would cost about 10 bitcoin, a livestream view would only cost one bitcoin. Prices for livestreams range from 5,000 pesos ($92 USD) to 15,000 pesos ($276 USD), depending on the length of the show and the age of the victim.
Per the International Justice Mission, the number of rescue and arrest missions for the cybersex trade in the Philippines went from 17 in 2015 to 51 in the first nine months of 2018. Most of the cases involved 12-year-old girls and younger, with one in ten a boy. The youngest rescued was a three-month-old baby.
According to the report, the distinct characteristics of cryptocurrencies have “significant implications for criminal activity and for its investigation, analysis and prosecution as well. In that criminal realm, there is clear evidence that Bitcoin has made significant inroads into commercial sexual abuse material, the sex trade and in the exploitation and trafficking of minors and adults alike.”
However, the report goes on to say, “While Bitcoin does provide significant barriers to identification of individuals, it is not, contrary to the misinformation common in media reports, completely anonymous. In fact, it is far from it.”
Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies are indeed pseudonymous but can still cause difficulties from an investigatory point of view.
Have a great weekend. We will see you Monday for your Daily Byte.
Frederick Reese is a politics and cryptocurrency reporter based in New York. He is also a former teacher, an early adopter of bitcoin and Litecoin, and an enthusiast of all things geeky and nerdy.
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