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Banking And Unbanking

TyroneDigiCash

Meh
Registered
There has been quite a bit of news about legal cannabis companies having difficulty opening bank accounts. Of course, there are many banks which either don't mind or don't say anything and simply accept new accounts. Nevertheless, the issue was enough of a problem that some Colorado people got together to create Fourth Corner credit union. Here is an article on their situation:
http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-banking-fourth-corner-credit-union-fights-court-become-worlds-first-2241994

As you can see, being publicly a credit union for cannabis companies seems to have driven the Federal Reserve around the bend. Without the ability to get clearinghouse and other banking services from the Fed, Fourth Corner cannot actually operate. If you visit their web site, there are some links, but they clearly say that they aren't open for business.

My friends and I in the Digital Cash Alliance have developed technologies and strategies that we think can be effective in overcoming these problems. Of course, there is new stuff to learn. For example, we strongly recommend that people use encryption, including encrypted e-mail, encrypted hard drives, and do their best to stay out of trouble with the law. We not only have technologists and marketers on our team, but also teachers who can help with the harder tech.
 

Ted

Old Member
Admin
This is probably my favorite line of the whole thing because it truly sums up the issue at hand the most.
And if we are not going to have banking ... and have millions and millions of dollars on the streets where bad things can happen, that is not responsible.”
We really need this to be come out in a way that get's this cash off the street. Lives are potentially at stake over a plant. I am a tech guy and love all of it. I particularly love Bitcoin and the ideas that come from it. I firmly believe it is the future. We need a decentralized system to protect our privacy. The internet changed the world in 1 decade for the most part. We had stuff going on before 2005, but from 2005-2015, substantial changes happened.

I look forward to seeing what you and your team are up to. If we can spread information or assist using the community to do then I am all for it. We need our privacy back. I wish I could encrypt the site better or find ways to tighten things around here. The best I can do at the moment is to hide certain parts of the forum from visitors. Keep up the great work man and let us know how things progress. A lot more people need to know about this.

I will say as well that it's something I think about every day. If the day comes to charge for premium memberships, or take a donation, or sell a shirt...what banking system is going to allow "Ted's Marijuana Forum" to accept Paypal or Stripe? The answer is none. I could do Bitcoin or something else but it's another difficult layer to something that should be easy. I have no plans on using the forum to make money, but it was a realistic example of why getting banking right means so much to many people.
 

TyroneDigiCash

Meh
Registered
Making things a lot easier takes time. I personally know guys who were involved in Compuserve back in 1973 or so, when there were very few "gateways" from the university and military networks to the commercial network. In the early 1980s, people were still sometimes confounded by not being able to move a packet of data from one type of network to another, but it got sorted out soon after. Some of the people on our team were early participants in "USEnet" discussion boards in the 1980s, when the Internet was nothing at all like it is today. Text still ruled, and graphical user interfaces were just beginning to gain widespread acceptance with the Mac and Windows. One of the guys we have on our board of advisors did Pretty Good Privacy e-mail encryption back when it was an MS-DOS command line interface programme, back in 1992 or so, when people like Phil Zimmerman who developed it were considered dangerous and potentially felons by the federal government. Things are much, much easier today in some ways. For example, the basic RSA encryption algorithm is public domain, nobody seriously talks about encryption as illegal (though many in government agencies like the CIA would like to change that) and to use e-mail encryption you get the Enigmail Plugin for Thunderbird, or what have you, and you have a graphical user interface that detects whether your e-mail is going to someone for whom you have a public key. What I'm saying is: it does get easier.

Banks are inherently untrustworthy because they are creatures of governments that aren't happy with freedom and privacy for the masses. Banks will refuse service. Or, having accepted your account, will shut it down at the first sign of concern by anyone in government. PayPal operates the same way. You don't have presumption of innocence. If the IRS or the FBI or the DEA says, "Close this account," then the banks hop to it. If they don't immediately act, even before a trial, even before an indictment, to freeze your account, the bank can lose its licence to operate a bank. Or, like Fourth Corner, find themselves unable to use the Federal Reserve clearinghouse and other vital but centralised infrastructure.

So the answers that Bitcoin has presented come in the form of decentralisation in many vital areas. Things that should be redundant are very redundant. Of course, not everything really should be as decentralised as Bitcoin has made them. Do you really need a permanent record of every bitcoin transaction that took place in 2010? I don't see any need for that information, but it is part of the blockchain. And if you want to use the blockchain, you get a copy of all those transactions whether you need them or not. I'm not saying they did things badly. Bitcoin Core has been a very good software system. But the blockchain is public, and you might not want to publish every single transaction.

Here's where DCSpark is different. It is an anonymous transaction system. Nothing is stored on central servers in terms of account information, who owns which wallets, and so forth. The system doesn't ask for that information when you sign up. It doesn't know who is associated with a given wallet, and it doesn't know what any given wallet holds. All that information is stored in the cloud, encrypted. Your copy of the DCSpark client has the information to access the encryption keys for your wallet. And, better still, it doesn't use HTTPS but XMPP. So there is even more privacy. There are other elements of the technology that keep the system from being able to see your IP address, for example, so the Digital Cash network has no way of finding you. All these factors make it possible to assure users that their transactions are entirely anonymous and completely private. The wallet software even lets you discard receipts, so even you don't have a record if that's how you want to go.

Eventually, systems like DCSpark are going to represent a majority of the Bitcoin transactions. People are going to use off-blockchain transactions to actually make purchases. The blockchain is going to be used more like a armoured cars moving gold bullion between banks in the early 20th Century - to resolve accounts, but not to handle every tiny transaction. Even the big banks are getting interested in blockchain technology because it is so robust.

So what do we do about all the cash "on the streets"? Banks don't have any particular ability to safely store cash. In fact, if you consider what happens when a government agency wants an account frozen, or wants a safety deposit box's contents taken into evidence, banks do a very lousy job. Right now, today, the owners of legal cannabis stores have secure storage. They have safes, vaults, and the like. These could be beefed up, certainly, and additional security measures taken - but the concept of a decentralised set of cash storage facilities already exists.

Why not issue digital cash vouchers against the stored cash? Then sites like this one, glass pipe makers, anyone, could use those digital cash vouchers to send and receive money, make payments, transfer funds, check balances, do all the things that the banking system does, but do them privately, with transaction anonymity.

Better still, there is no new technology to develop. The OnionPay merchant interface lets companies accept Silent Bitcoin, Silent Litecoin, Silent Silver, RGold, and TGold right now. For example, the lasttrumpetproject.com lets you purchase the book using the Digital Cash technology. We're working with the Individual Sovereign University to build out their site with payment in Bitcoin or Silent Bitcoin for their classes on encryption and communications security. The same thing can be done for your site, Ted, if you want to start selling t-shirts, or what have you.

The DCSpark wallets are already built, available in versions for Linux, Mac, and Windows. The system for converting Bitcoin into Silent Bitcoin and Litecoin into Silent Litecoin already exists. The wallets have a built-in, escrow capable exchange platform, so you can convert from one form of money to another. There is also an in-wallet system for merchants, with a demo app, a coin flipping game. There is are application development interfaces (APIs or application programming interfaces) so people can build out their shopping carts, or build in-wallet storefronts.

Anyone wanting to become a currency issuer is welcome to discuss these prospects with the Digital Cash Alliance. So, if someone you know is a cannabis merchant and they have a safe full of cash that they would like to keep sealed and hidden, that's exactly the right person to be talking to us about issuing a currency. That way their physical cash can be used to issue digital cash vouchers and the digital cash can do the vast majority of the transaction activity.

We think there is room for a great many currency issuers. FA Hayek, writing in 1976 to 1990 on this topic strongly advocated for competing currencies in his book (and its revisions) "The Denationalisation of Money." Yes, rather mind-blowing, that a Nobel prize winning economist had this idea that governments weren't the right people to issue currency many decades ago. We have the technology, today, to make this happen.
 

Ted

Old Member
Admin
Clearly you have a background in this area that may or may not be matched by members of this community. I would consider myself well read and educated but I only got about 70% of what you wrote, but I do have questions about some points that I would love to have answered. Please note that I am strongly in favor of encryption, security, and safety.

Why are we having all of these new technologies coming out based on Bitcoin such as potcoin, dogecoin, and there are many more. What is the draw?

Another question I have is how many digital currencies do we need and after the Mt. Gox fiasco, how does the average person feel secure without isolating their coins into a single computer enclave? I am unsure what the maturity is of these methods and the newest "something coin" is blurring the actual value and path we take.

Lastly, what can I do to help make this better, or spread this? I am a graphic designer, marketer, and much more. How can I make a difference using this platform to help the safety and security of people who choose a digital currency to barter with? I am also thinking that there maybe a time that I need to take donations in the form of digital currency for example because a traditional merchant account won't let me have an account because of the obvious connection of marijuana in the site's name.

You left a lot to chew on in your response so I am going to re-read it again so I am on the same page as you. I didn't grow up in the internet or electronics era. I didn't really touch a computer until 1997. I am not well versed in the security side of things, but luckily Khan Academy does offer a course in it for free as well as Coursera. Thank you for the truly enormous contribution.
 

TyroneDigiCash

Meh
Registered
Yes, Ted, I do. I have a background in encryption and in digital money. Shortly after Phil Zimmerman created "Pretty Good Privacy," I was using it. "Pretty Good Privacy" or "PGP" is the basis for the open source Open PGP, and is the basic technology for encrypting e-mails and files used by most of the Fortune 500 companies. Back in 1999, I opened my first "e-gold" account. I've had accounts with other early pioneers in the industry, like GoldMoney.com, e-Bullion.com, and eCache.

There is a site, coinmarketcap.com which tracks 620 currencies, most of which are based on the blockchain technology that was developed by Satoshi Nakamoto for Bitcoin. I'm not really sure why we have so many "crypto-coin" currencies, right now, but at least part of it is that people see the advantages of a public ledger so that certain basic accounting activities (handling transactions, generating new coins) is completely public and transparent. Some of it, I think, is "me too" enthusiasm. Like how there were twenty or thirty car companies between 1905 and 1920.

You don't hear about the Studebaker, or Pierce Arrow car makers, and even the companies that were bought up and became "General Motors" have started to fade from view. But for several decades, there were all these car companies. Back in the 19th Century, there were dozens of railroad companies. Today, in the United States, there are So it isn't surprising that a new idea inspires very similar work.

To take one example, Litecoin. Litecoin started out using the same software that Bitcoin uses, but with some important changes. First, there is an arbitrary rule built into Bitcoin that limits how many total coins can ever be found. Litecoin also uses an arbitrary number, but it is four times bigger. Litecoin uses a different set of mathematical algorithms or rules to generate coins, and it can do so faster than the Bitcoin of 2011 on which it is based. Also, built into the rules for Bitcoin is a capability to have transactions for very tiny amounts at no cost to the user. Litecoin built in a transaction cost structure to eliminate what seems to be "spamming" of the Bitcoin transaction system. Many more people use Bitcoin compared to Litecoin, so it is probably the case that these differences aren't that big a draw to most people.

There are also currencies tracked by Coinmarketcap.com such as Ripple and Ethereum which use completely different software to operate their systems. Other major innovations in terms of technology include Open Transactions, Loom.cc, Voucher-Safe, and TruLedger.

Some of us, over the last few decades, have asked how much success have we really seen in the world with governments issuing money? If you look at the First World War you can see that the Federal Reserve System comes into existence in 1913 and that during WW One the British and French stopped using the "gold standard" and went to just printing money. Germany went into printing money right after the war, had a period of hyper-inflation, and many people think that the economic and social chaos which resulted from the 1919-1923 hyperinflation was a root cause of World War Two. We've had a lot of wars since then. I think a good argument can be made that many wars, including the war on drugs, would not occur if it were not for government-issued money.

Back in 1976, and with revisions up through 1990, FA Hayek, a Noble prize-winning economist, wrote a book called "The Denationalisation of Money." He suggested that governments were not the best outfits to be issuing money, and that private companies would do a better job. His theory of competing currencies is part of the theoretical groundwork for the digital money industry. His view was that people don't necessarily want to trade in gold, silver, or dollars. But, they do want to trade, to buy and to sell. So why shouldn't they have choices in what money to use? And, given that they have choices, new currencies will come with new innovations and people will either embrace a new money or reject it.

So, how many digital currencies do we need? I have no idea. There are dozens of national government currencies, like the USA dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar, the Swiss franc, the EU euro, the British pound, the Russian ruble, and so forth. Some, like the Hong Kong dollar are "pegged" to the US dollar, and so they are a kind of extension of the US dollar in some ways. You can imagine that the national governments of these countries feel that they have "status" in the world community of nations by having their own currency. And a bunch of these governments have central banks that, in my opinion, collude with the huge "too big to fail" banks of Wall Street and Europe (mostly, but also found in Japan, China, and elsewhere) and try to use monetary policies to help the 1% and the one-tenth of one percent.

As a result of some of the monetary and fiscal policies of the major world governments we now have a situation where 62 individuals have the same amount of economic wealth, as measured in these national currencies, as the 3.5 billion poorest people on Earth. That's an enormous disparity.

The Mt. Gox fiasco was very bad. The site mtgox.com was run by a gaming enthusiast who really liked the game Magic: The Gathering. Mt. Gox stands for "Magic the Gathering Online Exchange." It was built around 2007 to allow gamers to trade the playing cards that make Magic: The Gathering work. If you were never into Dungeons and Dragons or other "role playing" games, don't worry about it. In July 2010, the guy who founded mtgox.com heard about Bitcoin. Which, of course, was very early days for Bitcoin, before a Bitcoin was worth as much as a dollar. So, he changed the purpose of mtgox.com to become a bitcoin exchange. I don't think he ever took the computer security issues very seriously, and we can see where that ended up.

I don't think security actually exists. That feeling you have when you go into your home and lock the front door is an illusion. If you think about it, windows are a pretty big vulnerability. If you watch the television crime shows like "Snapped" or crime dramas, you know that people break into homes when no one is there by breaking windows, reaching in, and undoing the window latch or the door lock if the window is near a door. Everyone knows that glass breaks, but we still have big windows in our homes. You know that you aren't really secure just because the door is locked, either. Police shows and crime dramas show police and federal agents breaking down doors and rushing in with their weapons drawn. Do you barricade the front entrance? Probably not.

Security is an idea, a feeling as you mention. We "feel secure." But that's really an illusion. The point of having a front door that has locks on it, the point of having a dog that barks, the point of those little blue signs that say that a particular home has a security alarm system monitored by, say, ADT, is not that doors cannot be broken down, dogs put out of action in various ways, and is not that alarm systems cannot be turned off or disabled. The point of those things is that they project the illusion of security into the minds of other people, people who may want to steal from or physically harm, the people in those homes. And, for most people, there's no attraction to stealing or raping or killing, so most people aren't a threat. For the 1.8% or so of the population that ever commit a violent crime, and the 4% or so of the population that ever commit a property crime, the locked door is a temporary deterrent. The barking dog is probably a better deterrent, because a lot of people really don't like the idea of being bitten by an angry dog. And, the thing about a dog is, there is probably a house pretty much like yours down the street that has no dog, and so your barking dog moves the criminal to think more about that other house. Same for the alarm system - there's probably another house nearby without an alarm. So, the illusion of security is projected into the mind of the person who wants to do harm to you or your stuff, and that's something of an advantage to you.

But if the illusion of security takes place in your head, if you really believe you are safe, you aren't. And that illusion endangers you by making you feel like ignoring basic rules of safety. Smartphones have apparently hypnotised a huge number of people who stare at them, walk or drive or ride down the street, and pay no attention to anything else. I've seen people step into traffic with their noses pointed at their smart phones, and I really wonder if that's ever going to change. Or you see people with earbuds and they are walking or jogging, and have no idea what is being said to them by passersby. I'm sure the music is very nice, and probably these people think they are in a "good neighbourhood." But, sadly, crime doesn't work that way. There's a small percentage of people who ever commit violent crimes, but they aren't any different, physically, than anyone else. You cannot "tell" if someone is criminal based on a brief look. If you watch their behaviour, sometimes you get a sense that someone is about to do something bad, but a lot of people who have criminal plans in mind are good at hiding their behaviour, looking "normal." So, you have no way of knowing. There's no simple answer to security.

And that's just as true with computer stuff. Computers are tools created by people. They can be used to do a lot of fun stuff, to do a lot of economically useful stuff, and to do a lot of bad stuff.

So, there are hackers. The term "hacker" to a computer guy like me means that a person can "hack it" can understand computer codes, knows their way around, can do stuff, can create code that solves a problem without creating three more new problems. There are criminal hackers and their are non-criminal hackers. Black hats, white hats, grey hats, red hats - they come in all shapes, sizes, gender identities, colour schemes, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, what have you.

There are two basic ways for the average person to go. He can either learn to understand some of the technologies or he can trust one or more people who do. Most people end up going with a bit of each approach. There are people who teach this stuff, and I can point you at some of them if you wish. There are people who have a really good reputation and are trustworthy because they actually care about this stuff, or because they believe that the world is a better place if people are less intimidated by technology, or have fewer rules imposed by others, or fewer wars. And there are, of course, people who cannot be trusted, some of whom have a good reputation for a while and then turn out to be snakes.

During the last few decades, some ideas have worked out better than others. For example, back in the late 1980s, a "free software" movement was started. That became the "open source" movement. The idea is that computer code should not be hidden, should not be "proprietary." If you look at the open source operating system Linux and the open source software that is available for it, you can get just about the same results, do all the same economically useful and fun things, as you can with, say, the proprietary Windows operating system and proprietary software from Microsoft like Microsoft Word. So, what difference does it make? Well, since the open source software and operating system are open source, that means that anyone can read through the lines of code and understand what it says. (I'm sincere about that, anyone. You have to learn a computer language, or two, but you *can* do it. You might not choose to learn all that stuff, but you can if you want, right?) Which means that either you, or someone you know who is good with computers, can tell you what your computer and its software are doing.

That is completely not true with Microsoft, Apple, and so forth. If you look at the things Edward Snowden revealed, and the things that others like him have revealed, we know that big computer companies have big government contracts with military and espionage agencies. And they do use the computer systems they sell to spy on people. There's no nice way of putting it. So it is very hard to be safe and secure, or even feel safe, with proprietary software.

I'm a history buff, so when I think about groups like the NSA (that Snowden worked for) I think about things like the "Black Chamber." During the Woodrow Wilson administration (1913-1921) most of the telegraph traffic was carried by Western Union. Most of the telephone traffic was carried by AT&T. Men from the government went to the very top guys in those companies and got permission to have their technical guys install monitoring devices. I think that was true of many of the companies, not just those two. So, essentially all of the telephone and telegraph traffic was being monitored, all the time. The post office was allowing "government inspectors" to open the mail. They excused their behaviour by pointing at "pornography" and "radical literature" and the threat of the Bolshevik revolution (after 1917, when people knew what that was). My point is that communications were being monitored then. The Zimmerman telegram? It was one of the supposed reasons for the United States to enter World War One. It was a private diplomatic cable between Mexico and Germany, sent across the Atlantic on an undersea cable operated by, as I recall, Western Union. The US State Department had a copy of that communication. When British spies found the Zimmerman telegram, they found it in the US government's files.

Which is why people like Phil Zimmerman invented open source cryptography. If you don't know how the cryptographic system works, you don't have any way of protecting yourself. If you don't want to "get into all that" you can, with open source, at least be confident that thousands of men and women who are interested in "all that" have looked at the source code. So you have a diverse community of people who are able to examine source code and let the world know if there's something fishy going on. With proprietary software, you have to rely on the company to tell you. And the history in this area is really, really bad for privacy and freedom.

You ask about the maturity of these methods. The white paper by Satoshi was released in 2008 and the software built in 2009. So, not very mature. On the other hand, Bitcoin in particular has a market cap of about $5.8 billion, and, based on recent transaction activity (see blockchain.info for detailed charts) there's going to be about $46 billion of transactions in Bitcoin this calendar year. More if it grows, less if it goes away.

The "something coin" situation is a puzzle. I have no idea which currency is going to be the best. I cannot tell you where to put your money, because I don't know enough about you. I understand that it looks confusing, with 620 currencies just in the "blockchain" approach. There isn't a "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval or one of those "Undewriters Laboratory" labels to assure you that someone has tested it out and knows it is safe. Maybe someone should get something like that started. But there are sites like Ripoff Report, and there is still a fairly open Internet where we can search for information on who is doing scams and fraud. Like everything else, it depends in part on what you want, and in part on who has the good stuff.

I think you are doing an *awesome* job with what you are doing. I think this forum you've created is a great thing. I'm very impressed that you already have 2,000 users. I really think this kind of forum makes a huge difference, helps people with similar ideals get together and make things better. That's why I showed up, that's why I am posting here. I believe, as you do, that ending the war on drugs saves lives. Cannabis saves lives. People not only feel better, but get a lot of medical benefits, from pot. Legalise and save lives.

If you want to accept bitcoin, I know all about how to do it. Yes, you can have a bitcoin account right now, today, without any permission from a bank or credit union, anywhere. I'm very happy to help you get going with that. I know software guys who can help you build a page to accept donations, or sell T-shirts, or sell whatever you wish.

I think Khan Academy is a great thing. And there are lots of free resources to look at. Also, there are good guides you can communicate with to get further along your own path. I think everyone gets to walk their own path, and nobody else can walk yours for you. But there are guides, and we all have the opportunity to learn from others.

Thank you, Ted. Sincerely. Thank you so much for creating this forum and keeping it going. I think it is a great thing. I am a true believer. You have done good. Please keep up the great work.
 

Ted

Old Member
Admin
I appreciate that very much. While reading that I thought that I might be talking to Wendell from Tek Syndicate. I read every word and I enjoyed it. I will also say upfront that I am a huge fan on Linux Mint KDE flavor. I am currently building a Hackintosh though. I can read some code, but my background is in networking, long-haul communications and encryption along with web design and minor sys admin. I nerd out when I have the time. Accepting Bitcoin will be in the future. I think right now I want to focus on building a community. That's always priority #1.

Everyone has an opinion on Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and others. I won't voice mine but I think we need our privacy and too many are letting there's be gobbled up. The NSA wants every 1 or 0 you have to transmit. We have to be aware of this and it's why each time I log on to this site or anywhere else I need uBlock, Ghostery, Disconnect, or your flavor of choice to browse with anonymity. We all have to login to Facebook, Twitter, or whatever so most people don't think about downloading the TOR browser for surfing without being identified.

VPNs are important to me as well. I dropped Netflix as soon as they started blocking VPNs and proxies. That's a whole different conversation though.

I love that you touched on security or the thought of it. It is a state of mind and not one of reality. I think the examples you gave are easy to understand, but should scare the living shit out of anyone who takes their surfing on the net for granted. I am not a dark web user, but I understand it. As deep as I will go is 4chan /b and it goes much deeper than that.

I am glad to have these decentralised currencies. I had no idea that there were that many but I don't track them either. My time is limited to read and to be knowledgeable on these topics. I am really thankful that you put so much out here. I enjoy this kind of conversation, but even more so I hope it catches the eyes of someone that had no idea and now because of this they go buy a VPN service, use TOR, or anything that helps them keep their privacy. Even if privacy is dying.

I will continue the work here without a doubt. Everyday we are reaching out to new people that are excited to join when they visit. I love putting the numbers on the board and the next milestone is 5,000. I just need to keep pushing and building out the things I have in my head. I am always asking people what they want, how they are doing, how am I doing, and more. This is a community and I love this community.
 

TyroneDigiCash

Meh
Registered
I'll continue to post to Twitter and this new thing, Tsu, with links to this forum, to help bring up the membership numbers.

With particular respect to TOR, I think it is a good technology, and I like that it is decentralised, very much, but there are some real issues with it. The good news is that we don't know who is operating exit nodes, and these can be operated by anyone. The bad news is that we do know that some government agencies have been operating exit nodes and doing some tracking that way. There are real security issues with TOR, and if one is committed to using it, you should understand the risks and limitations. Here is a pretty good overview article on that topic. Please don't misunderstand, I really like TOR and I think it is excellent that people have access to it. But for most of my browsing and other Internet stuff, I use VPNs. Two of the very best VPN networks are maintained by friends of mine at ElanVPN.

If one is committed to TOR, understanding the ins and outs of exit node problems is probably a good thing. I found a fairly good article here but the site uses quite a bit of scripting and automatically opens a menu over much of the screen even though I have "noscripts" set up. Pages like this one aren't exactly technical, but a great many readers of different levels of focus on technical matters will be reading this thread (I hope) and I don't want to only focus on highly technical stuff.

Similarly, there are issues with Bitcoin. The designer of Voucher-Safe, Kevin Wilkerson, developed this page: The Truth About Problems with Bitcoin. I think it is an excellent review of many of the important issues.

I mention "noscripts" in this post, and I should probably go over some of that information, as well. Web browsers are great and a lot of fun, because you can see all kinds of web sites. But, some web sites aren't meant to be fun for you, they are meant to compromise your computer's security. Other sites that are meant to be fun for you will also put tracking information on your computer, or use your browser's settings to become more informed about you as a consumer. Once you visit some sites, the information gathered is often sold to marketing companies and, very likely, government agencies. So there are things a person can do to safeguard their privacy, including their economic privacy. Most of these are easy to do.

The good people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have created a plugin for many browsers called "HTTPS Everywhere." Basically, it tells your browser to look for, and if available visit, the secure page (that starts https) rather than the non-secure page (that starts http). Here is their page on that project: https://www.eff.org/de/https-everywhere

Your browser may know where you are. That's especially true if you are using a computer or smart device (tablet, smartphone) that has a GPS unit. But it is also (a surprising thought to some people) true if you have a wi-fi connection capability in your computer or device because your distance from and ability to see nearby wi-fi routers can be used to fix your location. Do you remember when Google sent those little vans around with all the cameras for Street View? Yeah, they also had antennae, and they built a huge database of wi-fi router locations, and which ones could be seen from each address they were photographing. And that is a commercial database they sell to other companies and, presumably, gov't agencies. Sure, having your computer know where you are can make finding nearby stores easier, and it can be a life saver if you are in trouble. But it can also be a problem if your web browser is telling sites where you are while you are trying to browse privately. So... You may want to turn off geo-location in your browser. http://techlogon.com/2013/04/23/how-to-disable-geolocation-in-ie-chrome-or-firefox/

You may or may not want to run all the scripts that a web site presents. I like to run none of them, myself. Here is the plugin that helps with that work: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/

You may not want to display ads when you visit sites. Some ads are going to load images and perhaps scripts from sites, and track who is seeing those images, and possibly do other things you don't want done. Here is top notch ad blocker software: https://adblockplus.org/

You might be presented with security certificates by sites that swap out security certs all the time. A problem comes up in this respect because if some other company or government agency swaps out the security cert, they can send you to a site that looks just like the site you are familiar with, and get your login information. That's called a "man in the middle" attack. If you want to watch out for security certs, try this software: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/certificate-patrol/

There is a new "kind" of cookie called a Local Shared Object or LSO. It is stored on your computer by your browser, and may contain all kinds of information that you would rather keep private. Many sites use them, and so you may not have a choice about LSOs at least in terms of logging in, but you can remove them, especially when you close your browser. Better Privacy is a tool for that purpose. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/betterprivacy/

Obviously, I've included links above to Addons for Mozilla's open source Firefox browser. But there are similar tools available for Chrome/Chromium, Internet Exploder, and so forth.

My purpose here is not to annoy people who already know these things, but to share these ideas with people who might not yet know them. Also, my purpose is not to scare people about accessing the dark "web" or dark net. The fact that a lot of stuff exists that can compromise your privacy should not frighten you. It is like being aware that there are many cars, buses, and trucks on the road - you know to look both ways, judge the speed of approaching vehicles, be aware of the cross walks and traffic signals, and watch out for weirdness. Using computer communications technologies is very similar to walking across the street in a busy city. It doesn't have to be scary, but it is safer if you know what you are doing.

Finally, there are, as Ted mentions, free classes at Khan Academy. Lots of Youtube pages about software to let you see someone walk through the process before you do. I also know that the guy who runs https://indsovu.org/ is a good teacher and knows this stuff. So it is possible to get help if you need it.
 

Ted

Old Member
Admin
The good people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have created a plugin for many browsers called "HTTPS Everywhere." Basically, it tells your browser to look for, and if available visit, the secure page (that starts https) rather than the non-secure page (that starts http). Here is their page on that project: https://www.eff.org/de/https-everywhere
Excellent info right here. I went and grabbed it for Chrome (yes, I know I really should use it...), and they have it for Firefox too.

You may not want to display ads when you visit sites. Some ads are going to load images and perhaps scripts from sites, and track who is seeing those images, and possibly do other things you don't want done. Here is top notch ad blocker software: https://adblockplus.org/
Here is where I differ. I used to run ABP, but I didn't like their "pay to get on the white list" scheme. Now I strictly use uBlock as it's opensource and still does a great job. ABP does a great job too and I don't mind them making money, but when I can support open source, I try to.

This is a very valuable thread for anyone curious enough on how to protect their online time, all to those that might be interested in Bitcoin. I was watching the series by Morgan Spurlock called Inside Man, and I absolutely love it. The one in season 3 where he tries to live on Bitcoin alone was eye opening. I saw it on Netflix but I cancelled Netflix last night. The block my VPN and friends don't let friends on the internet without protection. Therefore Netflix is not my friend.

There are some great series out there to include Bill Hansley's series. I can't think of it off the top of my head, but I always like to watch them. Stuxnet has captured my imagination as well. The digital world is whatever you want it to be. For me it's about keep me, my family, and those that are in my community as safe as possible.

I will leave as I say that I agree 100% on TOR. I was tempted last summer to start an exit node, but I decided not to for various reasons. The concept is great, the government running exit nodes are not. I was trying out Bleep from Bittorrent a while ago. It was the decentralized messaging app. It's moved out of the Alpha that I was testing. There was like a handful of us trying to test it and I found it difficult with no one being there. I might give it another go now that I see they have advanced.

Thanks again for all that info you are dropping around here. I hope others are getting their eye balls filled with knowledge or at least curious to what is out there.
 

Mr_CannaBabb

Meh
Registered
My purpose here is not to annoy people who already know these things, but to share these ideas with people who might not yet know them. Also, my purpose is not to scare people about accessing the dark "web" or dark net. The fact that a lot of stuff exists that can compromise your privacy should not frighten you. It is like being aware that there are many cars, buses, and trucks on the road - you know to look both ways, judge the speed of approaching vehicles, be aware of the cross walks and traffic signals, and watch out for weirdness. Using computer communications technologies is very similar to walking across the street in a busy city. It doesn't have to be scary, but it is safer if you know what you are doing.
I just want to say thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge. This thread has already proved to be one of the most well written explanations of Bitcoin and currency I have seen. I'll be following with pleasure.
 

TyroneDigiCash

Meh
Registered
You are very welcome. I'm eager to answer any questions, or refer you to people wiser than me who can do a better job answering. The world needs freedom, economic privacy, and anonymity. The marijuana legalisation movement is an excellent example of how free people do not need to be supervised by the government. The war on drugs has cost many lives. If I can do anything to help save lives, legalise marijuana, and make it possible for people to engage in trade and commerce without coercion, I want to do those things.
 

Mr_CannaBabb

Meh
Registered
You are very welcome. I'm eager to answer any questions, or refer you to people wiser than me who can do a better job answering. The world needs freedom, economic privacy, and anonymity. The marijuana legalisation movement is an excellent example of how free people do not need to be supervised by the government. The war on drugs has cost many lives. If I can do anything to help save lives, legalise marijuana, and make it possible for people to engage in trade and commerce without coercion, I want to do those things.
Hear hear. I look forward to learning more and working with you in the future.
 
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