Bitcoin sorta legal in CA, NSA transparency report, and Internet voting fails in Norway [Government IT Week]

Bitcoin sorta legal in CA, NSA transparency report, and Internet voting fails in Norway [Government IT Week]

Summary: Internet voting fails in Norway (and if it won't work there, it probably won't work anywhere). If you're living on the left coast, you can now, at least semi-legally buy your weed with bitcoin, and the DNI releases a transparency report. No, that's not a joke. We report the news here, bucko.

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ZDNet's worldwide team provides global 24/7 technology news and analysis. In addition to my own coverage analysis here in the ZDNet Government column and on ZDNet's DIY-IT, every week I'll bring you a selection of the best government-related articles posted by our intrepid reporters and analysts. Here are some of the most interesting from the last week.

Top stories this week

Americans as 'vulnerable' to NSA surveillance as foreigners, despite Fourth Amendment
By manipulating internet traffic to push American data outside of the country, the NSA can vacuum up vast amounts of US citizen data for intelligence purposes, a new report warns.

NATO updates cyber defence policy as digital attacks become a standard part of conflict
NATO has updated its cyber defence policy in the light of a number of international crises that have involved cyber security threats.

Norway internet voting experiment fails
The government has decided that it's not worth the risks, especially since test programs didn't improve turnout. Yet enthusiasm remains in other countries.

California repeals law banning bitcoin
Californian lawmakers have signed a bill removing the prohibition of companies or individuals from issuing money other than US dollars, rendering bitcoin technically legal in the state.

One year after NSA revelations, DNI releases transparency report
The Director of National Intelligence has taken a cue from Silicon Valley giants with more transparency about data collection.

Other government coverage around ZDNet

We're all just lab rats in Facebook's laboratory
Facebook has always controlled what we see in our news feeds. Now we know they've experimented on us to see what messages make us sad or happy.

Microsoft to resume email security notifications
After a weekend of questions and confusion, the company has decided not to stop using emails to notify customers of security issues

Americans as 'vulnerable' to NSA surveillance as foreigners, despite Fourth Amendment
By manipulating internet traffic to push American data outside of the country, the NSA can vacuum up vast amounts of US citizen data for intelligence purposes, a new report warns.

Europe backs Microsoft fight over US warrant for Irish email
European Union vice president Viviane Reding weighs in on Microsoft's side in its battle over a warrant for Irish email.

Fiona Stanley Hospital IT Project to miss deadline: Audit
The Western Australian Auditor General has found that the Department of Health needs to reassess the Identity Access Management project for the Fiona Stanley Hospital if it intends to complete it.

Sydney Opal card travel history can be accessed by police
Customer information and travel history on registered Opal cards can be accessed by New South Wales police, the Transport for NSW has confirmed.

Do the Privacy Commissioner's teeth have any bite?
Australia's Privacy Commissioner has shown he'll call out businesses that fail to protect personal data, and now he has the legislative teeth to punish them. But will it happen?

One year after NSA revelations, DNI releases transparency report
The Director of National Intelligence has taken a cue from Silicon Valley giants with more transparency about data collection.

Ex-NSA chief under scrutiny over speculated secrets leak
Irony aside, a lawmaker has pointedly reminded former NSA chief Keith Alexander that selling classified information is a felony.

NSA fallout prompted change in Singapore startup's cloud strategy

Unified Inbox was just about to launch its cloud-based communications tool when Edward Snowden rocked the industry, forcing the Singapore startup to rethink how it delivers its services via the cloud.

Topics: Security, Government, Government Asia, Government AU, Government US, Government UK, Privacy

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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8 comments
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  • Ponzi schemes

    Do we need a law specifically banning Ponzi schemes? Hasn't that been illegal everywhere for close to a century? The rule is pretty simple that you can't sell paper unless it has tangible backing.
    Buster Friendly
    • To what are you referring?

      Bitcoin from all appearances, is a medium of exchange. A Ponzi scheme is an investment fund (corporation, etc.) that pays earlier investors with the money received from later ones, instead of from earnings.

      The mercifully departed Bitcoin craze was a classic speculative bubble in which people paid inflated prices to buy something in hopes of selling it at a profit in the future (ie. they bet that the price will continue to go up); but have little or no real interest in the item itself. Eventually, more people sell than buy, speculators rush to sell their stocks, driving down the price further and finally the bottom falls out. These sorts of bubbles have been with us for centuries and follow a well known pattern that participants vehemently deny until the bubble bursts, which it always does. They bear much less resemblance to Ponzi schemes (which are deliberately fraudulent) than they do to the "irrational exuberance" that frequently afflicts gambers.
      John L. Ries
      • Mistyped

        "more people want to sell than want to buy".
        John L. Ries
      • Not really

        As far as I can tell, Bitcoin is being sold only as an investment with the currency thing being a cover story. There's simply no reason to bother with it as a payment intermediate. I think it started mostly as a method to launder money.
        Buster Friendly
        • Except...

          ...it's not promoted or distributed by a single individual or organization, and the "return on investment" comes the same way as it does from any other speculative investment: the price is higher when it is sold than it was when it was bought. No doubt, some people try to talk it up to make their own stocks of Bitcoin worth more, or because they make money off of trades, but stockbrokers and commodities traders have been doing that for over a century ("Merrill Lynch is bullish on America"); and however ethical the practice may or may not be, it differs fundamentally from what Charles Ponzi did, which was to pay investors with the proceeds of later investments, instead of from his non-existent profits (AFAIK, the promoters of Bitcoin aren't paying Bitcoin speculators; Bitcoin buyers are; well-advised or not). It even differs from the usual multi-level marketing cult in which distributors profit more from downline "buying from oneself" (there is no such thing) and recruiting than from actual sales to customers.
          John L. Ries
  • And no recap mention of Natalie Gagliordi's June 25th ZDNet report

    titled: Supreme Court rules smartphone searches require warrant.

    The New Yorker published an article speculating how this would or could impact future NSA privacy litigation issues.

    In fact, considering the National Security issues implied by this landmark SCOTUS decision, I was a bit surprised that David did not publish an opinion on this topic.
    kenosha77a
    • Warrants only matter in prosecution

      A proper warrant only matters in a criminal prosecution. If it wasn't done properly, anything found directly or as a result of the search cannot be used against you.
      Buster Friendly
      • That is what the courts have held...

        ...but it's not actually what the US Constitution says.
        John L. Ries