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Cryptocurrencies

Digital data security poses several challenges

On a Monday, there is a data leak affecting half a billion Facebook accounts. By Tuesday, a bot has scraped 500 million LinkedIn accounts. Then Wednesday, Stanford University announces a hack that exposed thousands of Social Security numbers and financial details. And Thursday, the world’s largest aviation IT company announces 90% of passenger data might have been accessed in a cyberattack. And so on. The cycle is endless.

The sheer number of reports of data leaks, hacks and scams on affected accounts has now grown so gargantuan that consumers and users are left numb. It might as well be the soaring national debt total —the higher the number, the less we care.

But breaches of private data matter. And consumers should be rightly ticked off.

Because for every company screw-up, hacker exploit and insecure government database, there are thousands of firms and organizations doing it right, keeping users’ data secure, encrypted and away from prying eyes.

And although such states as California, Virginia and Vermont have passed privacy and data laws, many of these provisions too closely resemble the European Union’s troubled General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in making it more difficult for legitimate businesses to secure data, not less.

When large data breaches occur, consumers who have been legitimately harmed should have their claims heard in court.

But the current regulations across the U.S., including in tech-centric California, place too much of a burden on those who follow the law and do right by their customers. There’s also a risk of creating a patchwork of different rules in different jurisdictions. To avoid this, a national framework on data and consumer privacy will need to take shape.

While we should always be vigilant about potentials for leaks and hacks, a chief concern of a smart and common-sense data privacy bill should be in championing innovation.

For every new health data company, logistics firm or consumer wearable, proper data collection and retention are a core value. The more that rules are uniform, clear and do not create barriers to entry, the more innovation we will see when it comes to data protection.

We should incentivize firms to adopt interoperability and open data standards to ensure data is portable and easy for users to access. Major social media networks now allow this prevision, and it has been the standard for website data for several years.

If that becomes the standard, consumers will be able to choose the brands and services that best cater to their needs and interests, rather than just companies left standing in the wake of overregulation.

At the same time, if we are to have a national privacy bill, we should enshrine the principle of technology neutrality, where government avoids decreeing winners and losers. That means that regulating or endorsing various formats of data, algorithms or technology should be determined by firms and consumers, not government agencies without the knowledge necessary to make good decisions. The EU’s recent attempt to designate the “common phone charger” as the micro-USB connection, at a time when USB-C connections are becoming the industry standard, is an easy example.

This also extends to innovation practices such as targeted advertising, geotargeting or personalization, which are key to the consumer experience.

Added to that, we should be wary of all attempts to outlaw encryption for both commercial and personal use.

In recent weeks, FBI Director Christopher Wray has once again called on Congress to ban the use of encryption, an overreach that would put billions of dollars’ worth of data at risk overnight and leave us vulnerable to foreign hackers.

He is joined in these efforts by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who introduced a bill that would forever ban this important cryptographic invention, warning it is used by “terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.”

The reason encryption remains a powerful tool in the arsenal of companies and agencies that handle our data and communications is because it works. We must defend it at any cost.

While there is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to online breaches and hacks, consumers should be able to benefit from an innovative marketplace of products and services, unencumbered by regulations that all too often restrict progress.

This balance is possible and necessary, both if we want to have a more secure online experience and if we want to continue to have the best technology at our disposal to improve our lives.

Originally published here.

Are Consumers Getting the Short Stick on Data Privacy?

On a Monday, there is a data leak affecting half a billion Facebook accounts, by Tuesday a bot has scraped 500 million LinkedIn accounts. On Wednesday, Stanford University announces a hack that exposed thousands of social security numbers and financial details. Then Thursday, the world’s largest aviation IT company announces 90 percent of passenger data may have been accessed in a cyber-attack. And so on. The cycle is endless.

The sheer number of reports of data leaks, hacks, and scams on affected accounts has now grown so gargantuan that consumers and users are left numb. It might as well be the soaring national debt total —the higher the number, the less we care.

But breaches of private data matter. And consumers should be rightly ticked off.

Because for every company screw-up, hacker exploit, and insecure government database, there are thousands of firms and organizations doing it right, keeping users’ data secure, encrypted, and away from prying eyes.

And although states like California, Virginia, and Vermont have passed privacy and data laws, many of these provisions too closely resemble the European Union’s troubled General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in making it more difficult for legitimate businesses to secure data, not less.

When large data breaches occur, consumers who have been legitimately harmed should have their claims heard in court.

But the current patchwork of regulations across the U.S., including in the tech-centric state of California, place too much of a burden on those who are follow the law and do right by their customers, and risk creating different rules in different jurisdictions. To avoid this, a national framework on data and consumer privacy will need to take shape.

While we should always be vigilant about potentials for leaks and hacks, a chief concern of a smart and common-sense data privacy bill should be in championing innovation.

For every new health data company, logistics firm, or consumer wearable, proper data collection and retention are a core value. The more that rules are uniform, clear, and do not create barriers to entry, the more innovation we will see when it comes to data protection.

We should incentivize firms to adopt interoperability and open data standards to ensure data is portable and easy-to-access for users. Major social media networks now allow this prevision, and it has been the standard for website data for several years.

If that becomes the standard, consumers will be able to choose the brands and services that best cater to their needs and interests, rather than just companies left standing in the wake of overregulation.

At the same time, if we are to have a national privacy bill, we should enshrine the principle of technology neutrality, where government avoids decreeing winners and losers. That means that regulating or endorsing various formats of data, algorithms, or technology should be determined by firms and consumers, not government agencies without the knowledge necessary to make good decisions. The EU’s recent attempt to designate the “common phone charger” as the micro-USB connection, at a time when USB-C connections are becoming the industry standard, is an easy example.

This also extends to innovation practices such as targeted advertising, geo-targeting, or personalization, which are key to the consumer experience.

Added to that, we should be wary of all attempts to outlaw encryption for both commercial and personal use.

In recent weeks, FBI Director Christopher Wray has once again called on Congress to ban the use of encryption, an overreach that would put billions of dollars’ worth of data at risk overnight, and leave us vulnerable to foreign hackers.

He is joined in these efforts by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who introduced a bill that would forever ban this important cryptographic invention, warning it is used by “terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.”

The reason encryption remains a powerful tool in the arsenal of companies and agencies that handle our data and communications is because it works. We must defend it at any cost.

While there is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to online breaches and hacks, consumers should be able to benefit from an innovative marketplace of products and services, unencumbered by regulations that all-too-often restrict progress.

This balance is possible and necessary, both if we want to have a more secure online experience, and if we want to continue to have the best technology at our disposal to improve our lives.

Originally published here.

Are Consumers Getting the Short Stick on Data Privacy?

On a Monday, there is a data leak affecting half a billion Facebook accounts, by Tuesday a bot has scraped 500 million LinkedIn accounts. On Wednesday, Stanford University announces a hack that exposed thousands of social security numbers and financial details. Then Thursday, the world’s largest aviation IT company announces 90 percent of passenger data may have been accessed in a cyber-attack. And so on. The cycle is endless.

The sheer number of reports of data leaks, hacks, and scams on affected accounts has now grown so gargantuan that consumers and users are left numb. It might as well be the soaring national debt total —the higher the number, the less we care.

But breaches of private data matter. And consumers should be rightly ticked off.

Because for every company screw-up, hacker exploit, and insecure government database, there are thousands of firms and organizations doing it right, keeping users’ data secure, encrypted, and away from prying eyes.

And although states like California, Virginia, and Vermont have passed privacy and data laws, many of these provisions too closely resemble the European Union’s troubled General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in making it more difficult for legitimate businesses to secure data, not less.

When large data breaches occur, consumers who have been legitimately harmed should have their claims heard in court.

But the current patchwork of regulations across the U.S., including in the tech-centric state of California, place too much of a burden on those who are follow the law and do right by their customers, and risk creating different rules in different jurisdictions. To avoid this, a national framework on data and consumer privacy will need to take shape.

While we should always be vigilant about potentials for leaks and hacks, a chief concern of a smart and common-sense data privacy bill should be in championing innovation.

For every new health data company, logistics firm, or consumer wearable, proper data collection and retention are a core value. The more that rules are uniform, clear, and do not create barriers to entry, the more innovation we will see when it comes to data protection.

We should incentivize firms to adopt interoperability and open data standards to ensure data is portable and easy-to-access for users. Major social media networks now allow this prevision, and it has been the standard for website data for several years.

If that becomes the standard, consumers will be able to choose the brands and services that best cater to their needs and interests, rather than just companies left standing in the wake of overregulation.

At the same time, if we are to have a national privacy bill, we should enshrine the principle of technology neutrality, where government avoids decreeing winners and losers. That means that regulating or endorsing various formats of data, algorithms, or technology should be determined by firms and consumers, not government agencies without the knowledge necessary to make good decisions. The EU’s recent attempt to designate the “common phone charger” as the micro-USB connection, at a time when USB-C connections are becoming the industry standard, is an easy example.

This also extends to innovation practices such as targeted advertising, geo-targeting, or personalization, which are key to the consumer experience.

Added to that, we should be wary of all attempts to outlaw encryption for both commercial and personal use.

In recent weeks, FBI Director Christopher Wray has once again called on Congress to ban the use of encryption, an overreach that would put billions of dollars’ worth of data at risk overnight, and leave us vulnerable to foreign hackers.

He is joined in these efforts by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who introduced a bill that would forever ban this important cryptographic invention, warning it is used by “terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.”

The reason encryption remains a powerful tool in the arsenal of companies and agencies that handle our data and communications is because it works. We must defend it at any cost.

While there is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to online breaches and hacks, consumers should be able to benefit from an innovative marketplace of products and services, unencumbered by regulations that all-too-often restrict progress.

This balance is possible and necessary, both if we want to have a more secure online experience, and if we want to continue to have the best technology at our disposal to improve our lives.

Originally published here.

Cryptocurrency regulations are the wrong way to go

An overly conservative regulatory approach is a danger to the innovative potential of blockchain technology…

Recently, the prices of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin made new headlines: After reaching a staggering all-time-high, major companies like Tesla have joined the hype, pushing the price ever higher into the sky.

The European Union is in the process of implementing another AMLD, anti-money laundering directive, which puts a larger regulatory burden on crypto-currency providers. The legal and regulatory for the blockchain that the EU is aspiring to could do the same.

In recent months, a plethora of news stories tinted cryptocurrencies in a negative light – from Facebook banning ads for cryptocurrencies and ICOs to China restricting access to foreign crypto exchanges for its citizens and lastly, banks banning cryptocurrency purchases on their credit cards.

It is not news that volatility in the crypto markets exceeds that of traditional stock exchanges by a couple of magnitudes. From late 2013 to early 2015, cryptos underwent a draining bear market that came to an end with exponential price explosions in the following bull market.

Shortly following any crash of cryptocurrencies, some people feel validated to voice their prediction of the end of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and call for harsher crackdowns of the technology as a whole. In some, this volatility awakens a deeply-entrenched skepticism of a new technology that’s still in its infancy.

But this overly conservative regulatory approach is a danger to the innovative potential of blockchain technology. Instead of focusing on the volatile nature of the crypto market and equating it with manipulation or dismissing it as a sheer gamble, crypto skeptics should learn more about the transformative nature of the technology behind many cryptocurrencies.

Despite their popular label in the media, many of them are not, in fact, primarily currencies.

The use cases of distributed ledger technology span from delivering aid efficiently to refugees, using blockchain to build a digital identity, enabling scientists to use your safely stored genomic data and a myriad of other fields of application.

Many crypto skeptics refuse to inform themselves on the multitude of use cases of blockchain technology across several industries. Solely focusing on the volatile price does not leave enough room to ponder upon the many ways this newly emergent technology might change our lives in the near future.

During the recent Senate hearing on cryptocurrency regulations, the chairman of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) J. Christopher Giancarlo had some encouraging words for the primarily younger generation interested in blockchain technology.

Talking about his niece’s interest in Bitcoin, Giancarlo stressed that any future regulations should not be dismissive, but rather respectful of the younger generation’s fascination with blockchain technology:

“It strikes me that we owe it to this generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one,” said Giancarlo.

Elaborating further, Giancarlo stressed that regulators should have a positive outlook on the future of this technology. While doing so, he seemed quite knowledgeable, even going as far as explaining the meaning of crypto-related terms like ‘HODL’ and ‘kimchi premium’.

For Giancarlo, regulating cryptocurrencies should have the aim of cracking down on fraudsters and fight market manipulation, not to stifle the flourishment of a new technology whose many advantages he acknowledged.

In this way, consumers should be given the opportunity to educate themselves on the different use cases of blockchain technology and have the liberty to invest in projects they deem promising.

Instead of stifling innovation and consumer choice, such a regulatory framework that provides enough space for creative exploration would ensure that future advancements in the cryptosphere are acknowledged as such and gradually find themselves changing traditional banks, corporations, and government operations.

Originally published here.

Is this North Carolina Congressman hawking Bitcoin?

Sometime last week, Neeraj K. Agrawal, the communications director for the DC-based cryptocurrency think tank Coin Center, tweeted a link to an empty website: whitehouse.gov/bitcoin.pdf.

The idea he was trying to convey, in Internet speak, is that hopefully, one day we can look forward to the day when the Bitcoin whitepaper would be hosted on the White House’s website.

That would signal that the executive branch has endorsed elements of the cryptocurrency, and hosted the fundamental founding document to build confidence in the government using Bitcoin as a unit of currency.

That’s futuristic, crypto-fueled optimism that was nothing but a cheeky tweet in that moment.

Taking that to the next level, tech investor and entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan put forward a challenge: which forward-thinking country or US state would host the Bitcoin white paper on their main domain?

Enter North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry.

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Hailing from Gastonia, a town I once worked in as a newspaper reporter, McHenry represents the 10th district in the northwestern part of the state, home to NASCAR drivers, the mighty Catawba River, and stretching to the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.

He once represented part of Gaston County in the State House and was later elected to Congress as one of the youngest congressmen in 2004.

As the ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, McHenry has often been involved in regulatory debates and discussions on cryptocurrencies and financial projects, including Facebook’s Libra project.

At least in previous statements and letters, McHenry usually joined hands with his Democratic colleagues to oppose any competition to the US dollar, as we’ve noted in past press releases.

However, it seems McHenry is changing his tune on the future of innovation in the cryptocurrency space.

On Wednesday, he took on the challenge originally posted by Agrawal and followed by Srinivasan: he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper to his own website.

Not only that, but he stated that “policymakers should be on the side of innovation and ingenuity, which are vital to American competitiveness,” and urged his colleagues to join him.

Is this North Carolina Republican Congressman hawking Bitcoin? It seems the answer is yes.

Looking into it more, he’s grown more bullish on Bitcoin and tech-related financial services in the last two years and even clarified his position on why projects like Libra do not represent a true cryptocurrency.

Appearing on series of podcasts, including one with fellow Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, McHenry has been more vocal on why Bitcoin’s technology is like nothing before, and in fact, represents the future of financial and digital services.

And top it off — he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper on the congressional web server!

If McHenry’s statements are true, and if he is using his position as a Financial Services committee member to advance those ideas, I think we may have a consumer champion congressman to follow in the next two years.

As a fellow North Carolinian and advocate for consumer-friendly policies, I have been critical toward McHenry’s various positions in the past, specifically on legitimizing financial services for cannabis-related companies.

I believe the exact tagline I used was “The North Carolina Republican singlehandedly blocking progress on cannabis banking“.

Obviously, McHenry’s ideas and policies are more nuanced and deserve a closer look. I look forward to him expounding on that much more. So while we may not agree on cannabis banking, there still could be much to agree on with the congressman.

If more politicians in DC and various statehouses approached this issue like McHenry, perhaps our governments would be better vehicles for fostering innovation and helping grow consumer choice.

Kudos to you, Rep. McHenry.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

To reduce illicit trade, make licit goods available and accessible

Criminal groups have been exploiting the pandemic to enrich themselves through illicit trade and undermine global security.

In August, the US Justice Department knocked down three $2 million worth cryptocurrency campaigns involving the Islamic State. The terrorists were selling fake masks and protective equipment for hospitals online claiming that it was FDA approved and used the profit to fund terrorist attacks.

Illicit trade across the board is a devil in disguise that lures us with cheap prices at the expense of our safety, security, and wellbeing. In order to fight it, we need to guarantee access to and availability of licit goods, especially drugs.

Weak law enforcement and corruption among customs officials are often seen as the main reason why illicit trade flourishes. Both do help facilitate illicit trade but hardly explain its persistence. According to a research conducted by Oxford Economics in 2018, only 11% of illicit trade is seized on average across Europe. Tracking and tracing smugglers is an uphill battle not least because a lot of illicit trade is carried out through official retail channels too.

Yet curbing supply alone won’t help: reducing consumer demand for illicit products is key. That would include raising awareness among consumers about illicit trade and making sure that licit goods are available and accessible. The price does play a role in consumer decision of whether to buy illicit goods or not, but as the said research by Oxford Economics showed it is not the only reason.

At the beginning of the pandemic – which hardly any country was prepared for – many Europeans countries ran out of masks and protective equipment as demand had been spiking. Combined with export bans this has naturally created favourable conditions for illicit trade. For example, OECD data suggests that since March 2020, at least 100 000 new domain names containing coronavirus related words (e.g., Covid, corona or virus) were registered on the darknet to sell medical items.

Lockdowns, trade restrictions and generally global unpreparedness for the pandemic are some of the reasons why illicit trade has scaled up, and tackling these unintended consequences will be a major challenge for the years ahead.

We should start by strengthening IP rights and cutting the red tape to protect brands on a local level so their products are accessible and available to the public. COVID-19 is unfortunately not the only public health issue we have faced, and we have to keep in mind that every flawed policy of peaceful times provides criminals with an opportunity to strike harder in a crisis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a 20% increase in enquiries for brand protection, most of which came from the pharmaceutical sector. Multiple European policymakers have made calls against intellectual property rights, while in fact in order to protect ourselves from fake PPE and drugs from China and alike, we have to safeguard IP rights at home.

A failure to mutually commit to regulatory harmonisation between the US FDA and Europe’s EMA is also one of the reasons why illicit trade has been booming. This would allow regulators on both ends to compete for better market approval procedures thereby gradually decreasing the bureaucratic costs for innovators.

We still don’t know how to cure 95 per cent of diseases, and it is crucial that as soon as a new drug is developed it becomes available on both sides of the Atlantic. To make it accessible though, the EU will have to allow consumers to access legal online pharmacies across the bloc.

Illicit trade of medicines puts the lives of millions of consumers in the EU and globally at risk. Reinforcing criminal responsibility for outlawed trade practices is essential but not enough. Curbing demand for illicit products by ensuring the licit ones are available and accessible should be the way forward.

By Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.

Season 6 of the Free Markets Series now available online

MONTREAL, May 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – After having aired on PBS affiliates in the United States and Canada, the sixth season of the Free Markets Series is now available online for the entire internet community to enjoy. Six new 30-minute episodes can be found in the dedicated series web library, and on social media networks.

The Free Markets Series introduces viewers to the principles of the free market through interviews with some of the most dynamic and influential thinkers and activists in the United States and Canada. Season 6 features:

  • Calixto Chikiamco, President of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), a public advocacy organization in Quezon City, Philippines whose mission is to advance the cause of economic and political liberty, good governance, secure and well-defined property rights, market-oriented reforms, and consumer protection;
  • John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, an independent organization generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois;
  • Bill Wirtz, senior policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Brussels, Belgium that supports lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice;
  • Daniel Di Martino, Venezuelan freedom activist and economist, he is a Research Associate at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at the University of Kentucky;
  • Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the Montreal Economic Institute, he was assistant professor at Taiwan’s Feng Chia University, has served as a fellow at the Mises Institute, and was general partner of a private equity fund in Washington, D.C.; and
  • Hon. Douglas Gingsburg, Senior Circuit Judge, was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1986; he served as Chief Judge from 2001 to 2008. He is a Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and visiting professor at the University College London, Faculty of Laws.

These unique interviews are conducted by none other than Bob Scully, host of The World Show, who was named the 2012 Person of the Year by American Public Television.

Some of the topics discussed in these fascinating interviews include the benefits of cryptocurrency, shifting power back to workers, defending the rule of law, pushing back against the nanny state, transforming agriculture and defending freedom.

The Free Markets Series is produced by The World Show in partnership with the Montreal Economic Institute. The World Show is a syndicated television program broadcast across North America, on 304 stations affiliated with American PBS. It is seen in 141 markets across 44 U.S. states, including in nine of the top ten Nielsen DMA markets.

“The Montreal Economic Institute and The World Show are proud to be able once again to offer television and internet viewers the opportunity to delve into some of the principles of the free market, and how they relate to the issues of the day, as expressed by these respected thinkers discussing their life’s work,” says Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Libra : Facebook va revoir sa copie sur sa monnaie virtuelle

Pour ne pas froisser les États et les banques, Facebook va changer la stratégie du Libra et proposer une solution de paiement global à l’image de PayPal. Le réseau social ne compte pas pour autant abandonner les principes fondamentaux de sa cryptomonnaie.

Lors de la présentation de sa cryptomonnaie Libra en juin dernier, tout s’annonçait pourtant bien pour Facebook. Gérée par une fondation suisse et épaulée par de grands noms de la finance, tels PayPal, Visa et Mastercard, le développement de la monnaie a très rapidement été freiné par des tirs de barrage provenant des États. La France, en premier lieu, considère illégale la création d’une telle monnaie par une société privée. La crainte de l’utilisation de la devise universelle pour réaliser du blanchiment d’argent a aussi pesé beaucoup sur la remise en question du Libra. Au final, les partenaires qui pesaient le plus lourd ont quitté le projet.

Le côté réglementaire a donc eu raison des premières intentions de la cryptomonnaie de Facebook. Pour le coup, le réseau social est actuellement en train de revoir sa copie. Selon les sources du site The Conversation, Facebook et les partenaires qui n’ont pas quitté le navire, comptent refonder totalement le projet.

Pour adoucir le courroux des États, plutôt que de créer une monnaie indépendante, la firme devrait plutôt proposer des déclinaisons numériques des devises, comme l’Euro, ou le dollar. Au final, pour se conformer à la législation, Libra pourrait tout simplement être assimilé à une plateforme de paiement de type PayPal.

Mais attention, Facebook ne compte pas pour autant mettre au rebut les principes de base du Libra. Il se donne juste du temps pour imaginer comment introduire cette cryptomonnaie. C’est pourquoi, la sortie de l’application Calibra, le portefeuille numérique du Libra, est décalée en octobre. De même, Facebook va restreindre cette application aux seuls États ayant émis des cryptomonnaies.

Pourquoi Libra est critiquée avant même son lancement ?

Comme prévu, Facebook a officiellement lancé sa monnaie virtuelle qui pourra être utilisée via Messenger et WhatsApp. Mais déjà, des voix s’élèvent contre cette cryptomonnaie accusée de faire le jeu du blanchiment d’argent ou de concurrencer les monnaies d’État.

Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Vodafone, Free ou encore Uber et Lyft… Des dizaines de géants de la high-tech et du système bancaire, mais aussi des ONG, épaulent Facebook pour le lancement de Libra, une cryptomonnaie destinée aux utilisateurs de Facebook et de WhatsApp, soit plus de deux milliards d’internautes !

L’idée est simple : bénéficier d’un porte-monnaie virtuel pour acheter et vendre des biens, via la messagerie instantanée, sans passer par une banque. Le tout avec une devise équilibrée dont la valeur est indexée sur plusieurs monnaies en vigueur pour éviter toute spéculation. Date de lancement ? Début 2020.

La France et les États-Unis y sont opposés

Le projet est très ambitieux mais il s’attire déjà les foudres des administrations. En France, le ministre de l’Économie, Bruno Le Maire, a rappelé qu’une entreprise privée ne pouvait pas créer une monnaie, concurrente des devises d’État. Du côté des États-Unis, où Facebook est sous le coup d’une enquête judiciaire pour la collecte et l’exploitation des données personnelles de ses membres, une parlementaire, qui dirige la Commission des Services financiers, exige que Facebook se présente devant le Congrès pour répondre aux inquiétudes et aux questions des représentants.

D’autres craignent que ce ne soit le moyen idéal pour blanchir de l’argent. Réponse de David Marcus, qui dirige cette nouvelle entité, au micro de France Info : « Si un réseau tel que celui-ci émerge avec beaucoup plus de transactions numériques, beaucoup plus de traçabilité, je pense qu’on va grandement améliorer l’efficacité des programmes anti-blanchiment et notamment à travers les porte-monnaie numériques qui seront régulés sur ce nouveau réseau. »

Au consommateur de décider si c’est un bon système ou pas?

Du côté des consommateurs, Consumer Choice Center, équivalent de Que-Choisir à travers le monde, regrette que les législateurs réclament la suspension du projet : « Contrôler la réglementation sur Internet et les sociétés financières est important, mais la mentalité de “légiférer d’abord, d’innover plus tard”, qui est apparue en réponse à Libra, devrait mettre tous les internautes en pause. Si chaque nouvelle innovation Internet est désormais soumise à l’approbation du Congrès, ce serait un dangereux précédent pour l’avenir du choix du consommateur en ligne », a déclaré Yaël Ossowski, dirigeant de cette association de défense du consommateur. Les consommateurs ont le droit de choisir s’ils souhaitent utiliser des crypto-monnaies ou des réseaux sociaux, et sont conscients des risques et des avantages considérables qui en découlent. Les utilisateurs recherchent une alternative et s’intéressent aux nouveaux outils numériques en ligne. C’est pourquoi, il y a un tel intérêt. »

La cryptomonnaie de Facebook arrive le 18 juin

Une dirigeante de Facebook a confirmé l’arrivée prochaine de la monnaie virtuelle de Facebook. Elle sera indexée sur plusieurs monnaies pour éviter les fluctuations et parmi les différents objectifs du réseau social, il y a l’idée de mettre en place un authentique réseau de distribution semblable à celui des distributeurs de billets actuels. 

Différentes sources s’accordent sur la date de lancement officielle de la nouvelle cryptomonnaie de Facebook, qui porte le nom de code Libra, et ce serait pour le 18 juin. L’information a notamment été confirmée par Laura McCracken, à la tête des services financiers et des partenariats pour les paiements de Facebook pour l’Europe du Nord, dans une interview accordée au journal allemand WirtschaftsWoche.

Pensant l’information déjà publique, Laura McCracken a indiqué que Facebook publiera à cette date un livre blanc détaillant le fonctionnement de la cryptomonnaie, et a confirmé qu’elle serait liée à plusieurs devises différentes, plutôt que le dollar seul, afin d’éviter les fluctuations.

Des transferts d’argent sans frais

La cryptomonnaie est prévue pour passer outre les frontières géopolitiques et pourra être transférée sans frais via ses applications Messenger et WhatsApp partout dans le monde. La firme compte notamment en faire la promotion dans les pays en voie de développement, où elle pourrait constituer une alternative stable aux monnaies locales volatiles.

Selon The Information, la firme compte aussi encourager son utilisation dans le monde physique, en installant notamment des machines similaires aux distributeurs de billets, qui permettront d’échanger des devises contre des jetons de sa cryptomonnaie. Facebook compte également proposer des bonus à l’inscription, en partenariat avec des marchands qui accepteront cette nouvelle monnaie.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Taiwan’s quest to become a “blockchain island”

It has been over ten years since the world first heard of Bitcoin, but blockchain’s applications are still in their infancy. One legislator in Taiwan wants to change that. Nicknamed “Crypto Congressman” by Vitalik Buterin, Jason Hsu worked as a tech entrepreneur before getting involved in politics in 2016. Today, he’s on a mission to turn Taiwan into the world’s next blockchain island and crypto nation. 

Hsu believes that one of the main challenges for global policy making is bridging the gap between society and technology. He’s bringing his open-minded perspective to Taiwan’s parliament in an effort to promote a more tech-driven future for the country. A future in which blockchain plays a key role. 

Taiwan’s tech-forward governance

 “In September 2017 when China banned ICOs, I realized that Taiwan could capitalize on this opportunity,” explained Hsu in an interview. That’s when his quest to introduce blockchain-friendly legislation in the country began.

What followed was the launch of a fintech sandbox in Taiwan. The idea was two-fold: to attract more foreign investment and to encourage more homegrown tech startups in the financial sector. Favorable regulations coupled with a big pool of local engineering talent are hoped to put Taiwan on the map of world-class fintech hubs. 

But Hsu’s aspiration reaches far beyond the sandbox. He envisions applying blockchain to various aspects of governance: from the Department of Health, through Education, to Justice. The Crypto Congressman is currently involved in 25 different projects that aim to increase efficiency and improve people’s lives with blockchain. He also promised to develop an entire blockchain district in Taipei with a special community coin that would be issued to entrepreneurs. 

What can blockchain do for the people? 

Blockchain has gotten a lot of bad reputation in the last few years. When the Bitcoin bubble burst, skeptics were quick to proclaim blockchain a fad. Others, on the other hand, pointed out that the internet started with a speculative bubble, too. It was only after the dot-com crisis that the World Wide Web reached its maturity. Is blockchain’s real potential still largely unexplored? 

According to Hsu and other visionary legislators, the answer is yes. They see the crypto speculation as a distraction from far greater tasks ahead: improving public services and increasing trust in governments. 

The most important thing you need to know about blockchain is that it consists of a chain of immutable blocks, or pieces of information if you will. Every single transaction is recorded and the records stay in the system forever. You can’t delete, change or hide the data. 

For governments, this could be a real deal-breaker. All the mundane transactions between the citizens and the government bodies would be revolutionized. Birth and death certificates, academic degrees, deeds, proof of identity and any other paperwork could all exist in the decentralized system. This would prevent fraud and make safe online transactions a lot easier, including e-voting or online property exchange. 

The distributed ledger system can also be used to hold governments accountable and fight corruption. Blockchain could provide a permanent record of all public funds and spendings. In a utopian scenario, each citizen would be able to track where every penny of their taxes goes. 

Blockchain adoption worldwide

Taiwan is not the only country to experiment with blockchain. The small nation of the Marshall Islands is set to become the world’s first state to adopt a digital legal tender. Sovereign, or SOV, will supplement the US dollar, which is currently the official currency of the Marshall Islands. Following the launch of the national cryptocurrency, the country will transition to a new model of governance, based on blockchain. 

Another country incorporating blockchain for governance is Estonia. The Baltic state uses Ethereum to manage its e-residency program. Under the first-of-its-kind scheme, anyone can apply online to become an e-citizen in Estonia and legally start a business there. With cutting-edge initiatives like this one, it’s no surprise that the Estonian government was quick to embrace blockchain. However, the plans to roll out a national cryptocurrency, Estcoin, were paused indefinitely. 

And finally, there is a contestant for the “blockchain island” title eyed by Taiwan. Malta is known as one of the most blockchain-friendly countries in the world, thanks to a very favorable regulatory framework passed in 2018. The island country already managed to attract many large cryptocurrency exchanges: OKEx and Binance, for example, have established their headquarters there. 

Technology is the only way forward

More and more governments around the world are realizing what Jason Hsu already knows: that “blockchain is here to stay.” Implementation of blockchain-powered technologies is no longer an “if” but a “when”. In a fast-paced digital environment, legislators have a choice to move forward with the tech developments or become obsolete. The entrepreneurial spirit of “moving fast and breaking stuff” that Hsu brings to Taiwanese parliament might be just what contemporary policymakers need. 


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Attempts To Block Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency May Backfire

Consumer group: Congressional attempt to block Facebook‘s Libra cryptocurrency harms consumer choice and will backfire

Washington, D.C. – Days after Facebook announced its new Libra cryptocurrency project, federal lawmakers issued stark warnings to the social media platform, and have now requested the project be put on ice.

The lawmakers issuing the warnings were Rep. Maxime Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, as well as ranking member Rep. Patrick McHenry. Sens. Mark Warner and Sherrod Brown both stated independently that Congress “cannot allow” such a project.

In response, Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yael Ossowski says the lawmakers’ threats are harmful to consumer choice, and will ultimately backfire.

“Overseeing regulation on Internet and financial firms is important, but the ‘regulate first, innovate later’ mentality that came in response to Libra should give every Internet user pause. If every new Internet innovation is now subject to kneejerk congressional approval, that sets a dangerous precedent for the future of consumer choice online,” said Ossowski.

“Consumers have the right to choose if they want to use cryptocurrencies or social networks, and are aware of the great risks and benefits that go along with that. People want an alternative and they’re interested in new digital tools online. That’s why there is so much interest.

“Allowing political figures to freeze future innovations and projects because of temporary partisan politics will keep millions of consumers from being able to enjoy regular goods and services they enjoy online, not to mention being able to connect with thousands of their friends and family online.

“And it won’t stop here. If these threats continue, Bitcoin and dozens of other cryptocurrencies, as well as other social media platforms that millions of users have adopted, will also face well-intended but flawed regulation.

“We must have smart regulation that encourages competition, protects privacy, and ensures consumer choice. Prior restraint of innovation would be the opposite of that,” said Ossowski.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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