Was Facebook’s Libra Planning to Make Money in Dirty Ways?

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I know that’s kind of a clickbait headline but it’s from a quote by Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, who dropped out of Facebook’s Libra organization after “multiple red flags.” Emphasis mine:

One reason was Libra’s leaders wouldn’t commit to abiding by laws around knowing their clients, money laundering, and data management, he told the newspaper.

“Every time you talked to the main proponents of Libra, I said ‘Would you put that in writing?’ They wouldn’t.”

It was also unclear to Banga how Libra would generate revenue, stoking his fears that it would make money in unscrupulous ways. “When you don’t understand how money gets made, it gets made in ways you don’t like,”

Facebook profiting off of money laundering?

YouTube Calls Cryptocurrency Videos ‘Harmful Content’

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In a crackdown called ‘The Crypto YouTube Carnage’ the company has been deleting cryptocurrency videos en masse, labeling them as “harmful or dangerous.”

As years’ worth of videos started disappearing from several crypto YouTubers’ channels, many began speculating about the giant’s motivations. Some believe that YouTube is sensing a rise of new, blockchain platforms that can compete for creators both by offering them better “job security” and a higher cut of earnings.

Federal Reserve Chairman Says Facebook Libra "Cannot go Forward"

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U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that Facebook Libra “cannot go forward” until serious concerns are addressed.

“Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Powell said during his semi-annual testimony on monetary policy before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

“I don’t think the project can go forward” without addressing those concerns, he added later.

Being pessimistic, I wonder if they are genuinely concerned about things like privacy, or just don’t want the competition.

Opera Launches Reborn 3 With VPN and Crypto Wallet

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Today Opera is launching its Reborn 3 browser. It comes with a VPN and cryptocurrency wallet built in, and it’s also ready for Web 3.0, which is defined as a more intelligent web with machine learning, natural language search, data-mining, and more. You could make a strong argument that we’re already in Web 3.0, although Opera defines “Web 3” as a blockchain-based internet. In any case, the Reobrn 3 browser is ready for it. The crypto wallet syncs between the desktop browser and the Android app, and will be added to the iOS in the future. The update also brings a new, borderless design with light and dark modes. Opera created a short sci-fi film “in which a woman travels through a futuristic world in search of regaining control of her digital life.” You can watch that film here, and download Opera here.

International Authorities Bust Cryptocurrency Fraud Cartel

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Cryptocurrency Crime

U.S. and international law enforcement agencies combined to bust an international cryptocurrency fraud cartel. In total, 20 people were charged, The Next Web reported. 16 of those came from outside the U.S., and 12 of them will be extradited. Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said that “the defendants allegedly orchestrated a highly organized and sophisticated scheme to steal money from unsuspecting victims in America and then launder their funds using cryptocurrency.”

The criminal conspiracy had defrauded Americans by listing products – usually cars – on online auction websites like eBay and Craigslist, only the item being sold didn’t exist. To make this scam seem more believable, the fraudsters had help from people based in the US. After the victims were convinced to pay, money was sent to the US-based associates who then converted the money to cryptocurrency before sending it on to their predominantely Romanian-based counterparts.

Wall Street Journal Explores Criminal Side of Cryptocurrency

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Cryptocurrency Crime

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece exploring the criminal side of cryptocurrency. Long-time readers know I’m a fan of cryptocurrency, but this piece offers excellent insight on the dark side of this technology. Here’s a snippet:

For many criminals, cryptocurrency is less cumbersome than cash. Hackers hold computer systems hostage and demand instant, anonymous payment in bitcoin. Drug dealers sell in dark corners of the internet, obscuring their names and locations. Narcotics traffickers move and launder their profits with clicks of a mouse. “The cases have exploded,” says Gabriel Bewley, a special agent in the virtual-currency initiative at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

I’ve read some really awful attacks on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in the last few weeks, pieces that are devoid of logic, knowledge, and understanding. What I like about this piece is that it covers this real problem with facts and without hyperbole. If you’re looking for some understanding on this issue, this is a great article to read.