Russian government hackers mined bitcoin to fund attacks

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Distributed chaos.
Image: writerfantast / getty

People are definitely spending bitcoin, just maybe not the kind of people proponents of cryptocurrency adoption had in mind. 

A lengthy indictment from the Justice Department dropped today, accusing seven Russian intelligence officers of conspiring to hack anti-doping agencies around the world in retaliation for their efforts to expose Russian athletic doping. And, at least according to the US officials, the GRU hacking group mined bitcoin to fund its efforts. 

“The pool of bitcoin generated from the GRU’s mining activity was used, for example, to pay a United States-based company to register the [phishing] domain wada-arna.org through a payment processing company located in the United States,” reads the indictment. “The conspirators used the same funding structure—and in some cases, the very same pool of funds—to purchase key accounts, servers, and domains used in their anti-doping related hacking activity.”

As a result, the Justice Department is charging the seven Russian officers with “[conspiring] to launder money through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.”

Clearly, the GRU officers’ efforts at anonymity failed in the longterm. Their hacking efforts, on the other hand, appear to have largely succeeded. 

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The indictment lays out how the group stole the medical information of around 250 athletes, and released that information — sometimes in altered form — to “damage the reputations of clean athletes from various countries by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.”

Interestingly, the officers — operating under guise of a hacking group named Fancy Bear — aggressively courted reporters in an effort to spread their propaganda. The indictment claims they hit up around 116 reporters on Twitter offering access to the hacked and secretly altered docs, and exchanged emails with around 70 reporters. 

The list of the GRU’s targets, at least in this specific campaign which reportedly began as earlier as 2014, include organizations based in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, and Mexico. Specifically, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the International Association of Athletics Federations, The Court of Arbitration for Sport, and FIFA were all targets. 

But there was more. The same hackers also hit a Pennsylvania nuclear energy company, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory. The latter had done work analyzing “the chemical agent connected to the poisonings of a former GRU officer and others in the United Kingdom,” notes the indictment. 

Essentially, it reads as if this crew was out for revenge on behalf of the Russian government. It just so happens that bitcoin paved the particular road there. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/russian-hackers-bitcoin-fund-attackts/

The average bitcoin investor really is young, rich and male

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New York (CNN Business)Who owns and trades bitcoin? Young, relatively well-off men living in big cities.

The survey was conducted by Clovr, a company focused on promoting the mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies — the digital ledgers that record bitcoin transactions. It is one of the first comprehensive studies of who owns cryptocurrencies.
It may not be a huge surprise to learn that the biggest bitcoin evangelists are young men.
    But the results will still be a blow to true cryptocurrency evangelists. That’s because, in addition to the limited reach it found, the survey’s results also show that the primary reason people invest in cryptocurrencies is the possibility of a huge return — not because they necessary think digital currencies are the future of money. In other words, people view bitcoin much like internet stocks in the late 1990s or marijuana stocks today: a highly speculative investment.
    The bitcoin boom is also about latching on to a hot fad — investors know others who are doing it and they also have a fear of missing out.
    That tends to be a recipe for disaster. Individual investors often chase momentum and get in too late. They’re still buying when the so-called smart money (big mutual funds and hedge funds) are selling.
    And even though bitcoin prices have come crashing down this year, that doesn’t mean that the worst is necessarily over. After all, the price of one bitcoin, trading at about $6,400, is up a staggering 3,000% in the past five years. There is arguably still a lot of room to fall.
    Mike Cribari, a co-founder of Clovr, said he was a bit surprised that eagerness to make a fast buck was the top reason for buying bitcoin.
    “A lot of people involved in speculative investments — going for long shots — don’t fall into high income brackets,” Cribari said, referring to numerous studies about how casinos, lotteries and other forms of gambling are often considered taxes on the poor.

      Bitcoin: Digital gold or Ponzi scheme?

    People won’t begin to think of cryptocurrencies as a true replacement for dollars, euros, yen and other government-backed paper currencies for some time. For that to happen, bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies will have to be available in more applications that people use in their daily lives.
    “It’s hard for people to understand things like private keys and transfers,” said Cribari. “People need to be able to use cryptocurrencies more for things like buying their lunch.”
    We might be getting closer to that point. Starbucks, Microsoft and New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange have launched Bakkt, a service that will let people convert bitcoins and other crypto assets into dollars.
    And Goldman Sachs backs Circle, a startup that lets people invest and trade in cryptocurrencies and also transfer digital payments via an app that works like text messaging.

    Crypto hangups

    Bitcoin definitely isn’t for everyone. Some high-profile hacking incidents of bitcoin wallets may be scaring some people away from cryptocurrencies, Cribari said.
    The breakneck volatility in the crypro market isn’t helping either. Bitcoin prices surged 50% in the past 12 months but are down 50% so far this year. The top reason people gave for avoiding crypto investments was that it’s too risky.
    Cribari said he’s hopeful that the wild swings are over. After peaking at nearly $20,000 last December, bitcoin prices have stabilized in a range of between $6,000 and $7,000 over the past few months.
      More average investors are getting comfortable with the thought of using bitcoin for everyday purchases and owning bitcoin for the long haul, a separate survey found. More than half of the Millennials and more than a third of the Gen Xers polled said they thought cryptocurrencies would become as widely accepted as cash and credit cards, according to BitcoinIRA.com, which lets people buy bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies for their retirement accounts.
      Nearly 30% of the Baby Boomers surveyed indicated that they would consider investing in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for their retirement.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/05/tech/bitcoin-investors-survey/index.html

      This bitcoin wallet claims to be hack-proof

      The SIKURPhone XZ1 is a Sony XZ1 phone with Sikur's software on top.
      Image: Sikur

      If you need to carry a substantial amount of cryptocurrency on you at all times, but you just don’t trust the average smartphone, a company called Sikur might have a solution. 

      On Wednesday, Sikur launched the SIKURPhone, a customized variant of a Sony smartphone, its Android enhanced with the secure, crypto-oriented SikurOS software. 

      SikurOS comes with a cryptocurrency wallet and numerous security-oriented features, such as the ability to remotely wipe the device, and Sikur’s own Secure App Store (launching later this year) which should host only vetted and thoroughly checked apps. A security-oriented chat app and browser are also on board.  

      The phone comes in two flavors: One is based on Sony’s XZ1, a 5.2-inch smartphone with a Snapdragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 2,700mAh battery and a 19-megapixel camera on the back paired with a 13-megapixel selfie camera. 

      The other is based on Sony’s mid-range XA2, which has a Snapdragon 630 chip, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 23-megapixel rear camera, and 8-megapixel selfie camera, and a 3,300mAh battery. 

      Neither of these devices are particularly new — Sony launched two more XZ-series flagships after the XZ1 — but their specs are still good enough to hold their own against most modern phones. 

      Image: Sikur

      If you’ve followed Sikur over the past couple of years, this launch is probably quite confusing. The company’s original SIKURPhone, launched in February 2018, had both its hardware and software built by Sikur. Now, the company appears to have pivoted to building only software which it will deploy on phones made by other manufacturers. 

      To build the new, Sony-based SIKURPhone, Sikur joined Sony’s Open Devices Program, which allowed the company to built its software on top of Sony’s hardware, the company COO Alexandre Vasconcelos told me via e-mail.

      “We are already talking to other manufacturers to port the SikurOS for other devices,” he said. 

      In its promo materials, Sikur claims that the pivot to software is an advantage, but one could argue that controlling both the hardware and the software can ensure better security. Furthermore, using a Sikur device to store your cryptocurrency, or any sensitive data (Sikur positions the device as a tool for businesses and governments, not just crypto users) means placing trust in a very young company to be able to protect it. 

      To test the security of its software, Sikur employed the penetration testing company HackerOne which, according to Sikur, was unable to penetrate the SikurOS’ defenses. 

      “SIKURPhone has a clear separation between hardware and software layers, the solution is very consistent. Even though the hardware/software layers are apart, we plan to run a permanent bounty program so that we keep the high-quality product level,” Vasconcelos said.

      The new SIKURPhone devices are already available with Sikur resellers. The recommended price for the XZ1 is $850, while the XA2 costs $650. 

      As for the original SIKURPhone, it’s still out there and supported for existing customers. “A new version should be available in mid-October, following the same software features that the SIKURPhone is delivering now,” Vasconcelos said. 

      UPDATE: Sept. 26, 2018, 10:44 a.m. CEST The post has been updated to clear up the confusion between the original SIKURPhone, the new SIKURPhone and the GranitePhone, an earlier Sikur device. 

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/sikurphone-xz1/

      Watching two bitcoin ‘celebs’ arguing poolside will scare you off crypto forever

      Making pool parties seem lame since 2009.
      Image: screenshot/coinsbank

      The cruise ship wasn’t big enough for the both of them. 

      On September 10, somewhere in the Mediterranean, two well-known rivals in the cryptocurrency space stood awkwardly poolside. A crowd, sporting a mix of cryptocurrency-themed t-shirts and bikinis, lounged nearby on the ship’s upper deck. One man, sweatpants sloshing in the water, steadied a tripod. The Bitcoin versus Bitcoin Cash debate was about to begin. 

      It only took 37 seconds to spiral out of control. 

      The CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise, chartered to take cryptocurrency die-hards from Barcelona, to Monaco, to Ibiza, and then back, was in its fourth day, and a highly billed event had managed to drag a few likely hung over attendees out from their below-deck cabins. Jimmy Song, a venture partner at Blockchain Capital LLC, was to argue the relative merits of Bitcoin (BTC). Early Bitcoin adoptee and Bitcoin Cash evangelist, Rover Ver, was to speak on behalf of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). 

      Bitcoin Cash was born following a 2017 Bitcoin hard fork, and despite BTC’s and BCH’s shared history, the two cryptocurrencies and their respective boosters have become the blockchain’s very own Montagues and Capulets — each disparaging the other at every conceivable opportunity, with both sides lobbing accusations of fraud and deception. 

      It was perhaps to be expected that the debate wouldn’t go smoothly, but just how quickly it went off the rails surprised even those in attendance. 

      Song, cowboy hat atop his head and microphone in hand, attempted to introduce the format of the event — a “Lincoln-Douglas style debate” — but was soon interrupted by Ver. 

      Couldn’t even get started.

      Image: screenshot/coinsbank

      Shouts of “no Roger” emanated from the crowd, as Ver told the audience to “calm down.”

      It quickly spun out from there, with Song repeatedly telling Ver to “sit down” as Ver angled for the microphone. 

      “Do you want to debate me or not,” Song demanded. “OK then sit down,” he repeated as he stood behind the podium. 

      Bickering over whether or not Ver would get a one-minute introduction before the official start of the debate continued on, with Song addressing the crowd and Ver shouting at the top of his lungs. 

      They heatedly yelled over each other as the crowd jeered. 

      Three minutes had passed, and things were not going well. And then someone handed Ver a mic.

      You better believe Song wasn’t having that, and so he stormed offstage saying he was “refusing to do the debate.”

      Finally with the stage all to himself, Ver attempted to speak but was immediately shouted down by an angry, shirtless man yelling from the pool. And that’s all just the first five minutes. The video is over 40 minutes long. 

      In the end, despite all the bullshit, one clear consensus did manage to emerge: If these people are the future of finance, then we should all pray for a return to the past. 

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/blockchain-cruise-bitcoin-fight/

      Good guy Bitcoin developer helps fix ‘critical’ bug in Bitcoin Cash

      Cool move.
      Image: Gettyimages

      Proponents of Bitcoin and its competing cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash, which was created as a “fork” of Bitcoin’s code and history, aren’t exactly in love with each other. Social media channels are full of squabbles over which coin is better and which one is more deserving of the “Bitcoin” name. 

      But one Bitcoin Core developer — meaning, a person who develops code for Bitcoin — rose above the petty quarrels and did a big favor for Bitcoin Cash. 

      In April, Cory Fields discovered what he describes as a “critical vulnerability” in Bitcoin Cash, and alerted Bitcoin Cash developers which implemented a fix before a malicious actor could exploit it. 

      After Fields had noticed a suspicious change in Bitcoin Cash’s code, it took him “less than 10 minutes” to find the bug, which was serious enough to cause a chain split, which (if unintentional) can cause huge damage to a cryptocurrency. 

      But it wasn’t just a simple matter of finding the bug and reporting it. “This was a bug in publicly-available, open-source software; any number of people could have already discovered it. There was nothing to stop anyone else from making the same discovery and taking advantage of it before a fix could be fully deployed,” he wrote in a Medium post published Friday. 

      “Suppose that I privately disclosed the bug using my name — only for someone else to find it independently and exploit it anonymously the next day,” he wrote. “…billions of dollars could have been lost as a result of this exploit. People have been killed for much less. So not only was anonymity important, I considered it a necessity for my safety.”

      Fields decided to report the bug anonymously, and luckily, he was able to reach Bitcoin Cash’s dev team before anyone else had noticed the bug (or, at least, had time to exploit it). 

      Bitcoin ABC (the name of Bitcoin Cash’s software implementation) has posted an incident report after the bug was fixed in May, and promised it would take “several actions in order to prevent such an event from occuring again,” as well as set up a formal bug bounty system. 

      Fields’ move was lauded by several notable cryptocurrency figures, including Civic CEO Vinny Lingham who tweeted that “Responsible and ethical behavior by everyone in the community, regardless of ideological beliefs, should be applauded.” Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, retweeted Lingham’s tweet. 

      Once the second most valuable cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash has dropped to fourth place by market cap according to CoinMarketCap, and is roughly eleven times smaller than Bitcoin. And while there’s still a lot of friction between fans of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, Fields’ example shows that it’s still possible to help each other out to the ultimate benefit of all.

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/10/bitcoin-cash-bug-found-bitcoin-dev/

      Bye-bye, Bitcoin. It’s all about bananacoins.

      Cast yer digital votes.
      Cast yer digital votes.
      Image: Getty Images

      A new pilot program in West Virginia aims to take voting into the technological future. In doing so, the state has cast its eye toward one of the most popular tech buzzwords of 2018.

      West Virginia has contracted the Boston company Voatz to enable voting via smartphone for troops overseas in the 2018 midterm elections, according to CNN. Members of the military will be able to cast their ballots using an app, with voting data recorded on a blockchain. 

      Troops will still be able to cast paper ballots if they prefer. 

      To use the app, voters will have to submit a photo of their government issued ID, as well as, um, a selfie video. Voatz’ facial recognition technology will ensure that the person voting in the selfie video matches the ID. 

      But the use of smartphone-, app-, and blockchain-based voting prompts concerns, because these technologies may not be consistent with the recommended way to secure an election. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, even told CNN that it was a “horrific idea” because of the security vulnerabilities it opens up.

      The industry standard for election security is to use devices that produce a paper trail. That way, there is a non-digital, and non-vulnerable back-up, should anything go awry. Facilitating voting via a (hackable) smartphone, and aggregating that data digitally sans paper trail — whether on much-evangelized blockchain technology or not —  opens up too many avenues for attack, Lorenzo Hall said.

      And attack is nowhere near out of the realm of possibilities for the 2018 midterms. U.S intelligence agencies concluded that in the 2016 election, Russian hackers attempted to hack the voting systems in 21 states, and were successful at accessing voter data in at least one, Illinois (however, there’s so far been no evidence the data was altered or votes were changed).

      Federal officials warn Russia is now attempting to interfere with the 2018 midterms. And while they do not see hacking election machines as the main vulnerability, they’re keeping an eye on it.

      But the U.S. may not be doing enough to bolster the digital integrity of election infrastructure. Last week, the Senate voted down a bill that would provide $250 million to states to modernize and secure the voting process, because they said it was not clear how states had used the $380 million already allocated. Still, experts say the initial funds are nowhere near enough to fully secure America’s elections. 

      It might just be too soon to rest our faith in American democracy on the blockchain.

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/07/smartphone-blockchain-voting-west-virginia/

      Bitcoin payments at Starbucks aren’t happening anytime soon

      Sorry, fiat only.
      Image: Chris Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

      Recent news that Starbucks has partnered with Microsoft, the International Exchange, and a few other companies to launch a cryptocurrency venture called Bakkt has fueled reports that Starbucks is getting ready to start accepting Bitcoin in its stores. 

      Speaking to Motherboard, however, the company has stated that this is not true. 

      “Customers will not be able to pay for Frappuccinos with bitcoin,” a Starbucks spokesperson told the outlet, refuting a CNBC story published Friday.

      Starbucks’ press release, dated Aug. 1, said Bakkt will be a “regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets” that will enable customers and institutions “to buy, sell, store, and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.”

      But Bakkt will initially only let users trade and convert Bitcoin into fiat currencies, which (obviously) can be used at Starbucks.

      Being the first significant foray the cryptocurrency space by Starbucks, as well as a platform that will likely bring Bitcoin to the attention of mainstream users, Bakkt is a boon for cryptocurrency proponents. But right now, it appears Starbucks is more interested in helping customers turn bitcoins into dollars than actually using them for purchases at its stores. 

      A Starbucks spokesperson told Motherboard that the company will “continue to talk with customers and regulators as the space evolves,” but it appears that directly spending Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency at Starbucks is still ways off. 

      Bitcoin’s price has been on the decline since late July, when it hit a two-month high of $8,340 according to CoinMarketCap. Right now, Bitcoin is trading at $6,993 with a market capitalization of $120 billion. 

      Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/06/starbucks-bitcoin/

      Crypto prices drop after SEC postpones Bitcoin ETF decision

      Bitcoin is going down again.
      Image: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Image

      The prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum and all other major cryptocurrencies are sharply down Wednesday following an announcement by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it will postpone the decision on approving what would be the first-ever Bitcoin ETF. 

      The SEC, which recently rejected a proposal by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss to launch a Bitcoin ETF, now has to approve or disprove another similar proposal, issued by the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. But the regulator has extended the deadline in which it must reach a decision to September 30, 2018. 

      A document posted by the SEC Tuesday says it has received more than 1,300 comments on this proposal; the regulator found it “appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change.”

      In July, the SEC extended the deadline for deciding on Direxion’s Bitcoin ETF proposal to September 21, with similar reasoning. 

      These delays aren’t overly negative for Bitcoin; in fact, given that one SEC commissioner dissented from the regulator’s decision to reject the Winklevoss brothers’ proposal for a Bitcoin ETF, the fact that the SEC needs more time to make a decision on another proposal might be a positive sign for Bitcoin proponents. 

      However, it appears that anything resembling bad news can send the crypto market plummeting these days. Shortly following the announcement, the price of Bitcoin dropped by more than 6% and is currently trading at $6,580. Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, fared even worse, having dropped by more than 8% at one point. It’s currently trading at $375, its lowest level since April. Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and EOS — the third, fourth and fifth largest coins by market cap — have all dropped more than ten percent in the past 24 hours. 

      The market capitalization of the entire cryptocurrency market is also sharply down at the time of writing. At $230 billion, it’s at its lowest point since November 2017. 

      Despite short periods of optimism here and there, the prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum and most other major cryptocurrencies have been on the decline since their January highs, when the total crypto market cap was over $800 billion. The launch of a Bitcoin ETF would likely be a big boost for Bitcoin and other coins, as it would open the doors to institutional investors to invest in the crypto market. 

      Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/08/bitcoin-etf-postponed-bitcoin-ethereum-price/

      The SEC rejects the proposal for first Bitcoin ETF again, but there’s a silver lining

      Better luck next time, guys.
      Image: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

      The SEC has rejected a second proposal to list and trade shares of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust on the Bats BZX Exchange, which would essentially be the launch of the first Bitcoin ETF. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, founders of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and big proponents of Bitcoin, have already been rejected in March 2017

      The SEC dismissed the amended proposal on Thursday with a 3 to 1 vote, disproving BZX’s claim that Bitcoin markets are “uniquely resistant to manipulation,” and questioning whether BZX can do enough to deter fraud and manipulation on the market. 

      But this time there’s a but. 

      Following the SEC’s decision, which sharply drove the price of Bitcoin down from $8,287 to about $7,900, the SEC published Commissioner Hester Peirce’s dissent from the SEC’s decision. 

      “Contrary to the Commission’s determination, I believe that the proposed rule change satisfies the statutory standard and that we should permit BZX to list and trade this bitcoin-based exchange-traded product (“ETP”),” Peirce wrote. 

      She argues, essentially, that this is a case of catch 22: the Bitcoin market has its problems but these problems would be “mitigated by institutionalizing the market”. In other words, allowing the first Bitcoin ETF to launch would improve the Bitcoin market precisely in the way the SEC would want it to. 

      “The disapproval order discourages new institutional participants from entering this market. Worse, it suggests that approval for bitcoin ETPs will come only when bitcoin spot and derivatives markets have matured substantially, yet, at the same time, contributes to further delay in their maturation, as potential institutional investors may reasonably conclude that the Commission will continue to repress market forces for the foreseeable future,” Peirce wrote. 

      On broader terms, Peirce also believes that “the disapproval order demonstrates a skeptical view of innovation, which may have an adverse effect on investor protection, efficiency, competition, and capital formation well beyond this particular product.”

      Peirce’s dissent is interesting, as it shows how the SEC might be swayed to change its decision on cases like this in the future. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ bid was rejected, but there’s another active application for a Bitcoin ETF, coming from the VanEcx SolidX Bitcoin Trust. The SEC did not comment on that application at this time, and it still has until August 16 to do so according to CNBC

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/27/bitcoin-etf-rejected/

      Congressman proposes banning bitcoin at House hearing

      Burn the coins!
      Image: D-Keine/getty

      Look, cryptocurrency is complicated. We get it. What with all the different coins, tokens, ICOs, exchanges, scams, protocols, and DApps, it’s borderline impossible for the casual observer to keep it all straight. 

      And so, with that in mind, let us now turn to approximately three combined hours of our elected officials rambling on about the blockchain and our decentralized future.

      The fun started early Wednesday, when members of the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to discuss the future of the crypto-verse. 

      “We should prohibit US persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies.”

      “This hearing will shed light on the promise of digital assets and the regulatory challenges facing this new asset class,” committee chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas (R-Texas) explained. “Our committee has a deep interest in promoting strong markets for commodities of all types, including those emerging through new technology.”

      But that wasn’t the only fun to be had today. Later in the afternoon, the House Financial Services Committee met to “examine the extent to which the United States government should consider cryptocurrencies as money and the potential domestic and global uses for cryptocurrencies.”

      And what did we learn from this esteemed group? Well, for starters, that bitcoin’s got to go. 

      “We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies,” Rep. Brad Sherman of (D-Calif.) blasted from the podium. “Mining alone uses electricity which takes away from other needs and-or adds to the carbon footprint. As a store, as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion.”

      Good ol’ Sherman.

      Image: screenshot/house financial services committee 

      Did you catch that? Mining uses electricity, and therefore should be banned. 

      But not everyone agreed with Sherman. Conaway, in his closing statements, seemed to argue in favor of bitcoin — at least as opposed to more privacy-focused cryptocurrency like Monero or Zcash. 

      “As long as the stupid criminals keep using bitcoin, we’ll be great,” he observed when commenting on the pseudonymous nature of bitcoin. 

      Hear that, stupid criminals? Stick to bitcoin

      Other fun gems include Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) admitting that “there’s a lot of things here that don’t make much sense to me.” And yet, Peterson actually seemed to have some relevant statistics at hand, like the fact that “over 80 percent of the initial coin offerings are scams.” 

      Good on you, Peterson. 

      Over all, the two hearings painted a picture of our elected officials attempting to wrap their heads around this brave new cryptoworld. And hey, that’s a good thing. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

      After all, we can’t all be self-assured teen crypto millionaires

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/18/congressional-cryptocurrency-hearing-ban-bitcoin/