Here are some stories you might find interesting — and the links to find out more about them.
Oxford Business Law and US lawmakers — both want developers to be part of a rethink of blockchain regulation
Date: 3 October 2018
Consulting firm Deloitte recently identified regulatory uncertainty and the absence of collaboration between blockchain-related firms as one of the main obstacles to mass adoption of blockchain and crypto.
This sentiment is being echoed this week in Europe and the USA.
In Europe, Anastasios A. Antoniou, a member of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, wrote an article in the Oxford Business Law Blog. He is calling for proponents of blockchain technology to work within “a well-structured, relevant and versatile regulatory framework”.
He acknowledges that there is a school of thought that blockchain can, in fact, regulate itself but asks whether this would provide the stability and predictability needed for it to thrive and reach its full potential. He also believes that current legislation will not be sufficient to cover all the potential applications of the blockchain. New rules will be required to provide legal certainty and to avoid impeding innovation and stifling technological advancement.
He encourages developers to work with legislators and regulators to be part of informing the best response to the technology.
On the other side of the Pacific, US legislators have submitted a bill to the House of Representatives calling for the US Department of Commerce to set up a working group of federal officials and members of the blockchain industry. The brief of this group will be to
· find common definitions for blockchain
· consider the impact of blockchain technology across the policy spectrum
· consider opportunities for federal adoption of blockchain technology
In both cases, the challenge to the blockchain community is the same. Increased regulation is coming, and if it is done correctly, and if the blockchain community work with regulators rather than trying to evade them, regulation can be very good news.
With it, blockchain can live up to its promise to transform the global digital economy. Without it, blockchain will struggle to achieve any level of mass adoption.
Crypto and crypto mining — what’s happening in Canada this week?
Date: 1 October 2018
There were three stories out of Canada this week that will be on interest to followers of cryptocurrencies.
The first concerns a partnership agreement between the Canadian crypto exchange, Coinsquare, and one of Canada’s leading banks. The bank has not been named, but the agreement will allow the exchange to more easily process deposits and withdrawals for its users. This follows a recent consolidated audit of the financial statements of Coinsquare undertaken by a national accounting firm.
Both events are part of the deliberate attempt by Coinsquare to show itself to be a fully compliant and trustworthy trading platform. They will be part of the foundation upon which Coinsquare undertakes its planned expansion into Europe and Japan.
The second story is about the threat from the mayor of the Canadian town called Medicine Hut to cut off the power supply to the bitcoin mining company Hut8 Mining Corp. Power is generated by a gas-powered electric station and 4 wind turbines.
Hut 8 has spent $100 million to set up a mining farm, with 40 employees, 50 containers and 180 servers. It planned to take advantage of the low electricity tariffs in the town.
The problem is the amount of electricity this farm uses — more than the entire population of the town and the industrial plants working there. There has also been pressure from local environmental groups, including Greenpeace, for bitcoin mining to use renewable energy. (It’s to be noted that Greenpeace has accepted Bitcoin as a means of payment for several years and has said that the impact of mining has no more effect on global warming than other industries.)
The third story is also about electricity allocation for bitcoin mining, this time in the Canadian province of Québec. But it’s also about a political election, and whether the winner is a supporter of bitcoin mining or not.
Articles in Forbes magazine earlier this year pointed out that Quebec had embraced bitcoin mining as a way to sell surplus electricity from Hydro-Quebec, the local utility company, and one of the largest hydropower producers in the world. The trouble was that the trickle of mining companies into Quebec became a flood, with applications pouring in from all over the world, especially China. Soon mining in Quebec was using as much electricity as the whole of the population of Ireland, and authorities were questioning their earlier enthusiasm. They were also questioning what value the mining companies were adding to the region, other than simply plugging in their rigs and using up the power.
In February, the provincial government ordered Hydro-Quebec to limit supplies and to raise the tariff above the 3.96 cents that had first been offered to miners. It closed off all new mining applications.
So, why was the election important? Well. It seems that the liberal party that announced the restrictions on mining has been replaced by a more moderate and pro-business party. It has not made any pronouncements about its intentions, but miners believe that this party will be more supportive and will be looking also to helping Hydro-Quebec reach its full potential and become more profitable.
Canada has been recognized as a leading supporter of blockchain and crypto. It will be interesting to watch developments there, especially now that Canada has announced that it is delaying announcing its regulations for blockchain and crypto companies until late 2019, after national elections. Some say this is good for the industry. Other believe that lack of certainty will drive new businesses to countries like Switzerland and Malta.
Father Of World Wide Web Launches plans to take back control
Date: 1 October 2018
Have you ever been concerned about how much of your personal data seems to be floating around on the internet? Are you irritated by the targeted advertising that pops up unsolicited in your inbox, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed? Are you worried by yet another announcement that the personal information of 50 million Google users has been hacked? And this after a previous 80 million had had their data used by the political research firm Cambridge Analytics?
If so, then you will be happy to hear about the project being undertaken by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the “father of the internet”. Berners-Lee last month told Vanity Fair that he was “devastated” by the way the internet was being used. In particular, he was concerned about how major corporations like Google, Facebook and Amazon now dominate the internet through their commodifying of the personal information of users. He is determined that people should take back ownership of their own data.
He has been working for several years to develop Solid, an open-source platform built on the existing web, where people will be able to trust that the apps they use will help them rather than spy on them. He has taken a sabbatical from MIT and is reducing his involvement with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to establish a company called Inrupt, to drive the development and adoption of this new platform.
Inrupt is being compared to Netscape. Netscape was an easy way for first-time users to access the internet. Similarly, Inrupt will be an easy way to access the new decentralized Solid platform.
Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and a Solid pod. Any personal information you might enter on the Solid platform exists within your “pod” — or personal online data store. You have control of it. You can give permission — or not — to specific apps to access all or part of it.
Solid will also provide “Charlie” an alternative to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Charlie will respond to your requests to play your favorite music, check the weather or answer questions. But Charlie won’t share your information with anyone else!
This news should be of great interest to developers, who are being asked to develop new apps that will take advantage of the decentralized nature of this platform, where data is not kept in silos and controlled and centralized by a small number of major corporations. In essence, control of the web can be decentralized.
It will be interesting to see how Google, Amazon and Facebook respond to this threat to their business models. In the meantime, Berners-Lee says he’s not asking for their permission.