Crypto Currency

Robert Mueller Won’t Testify Next Week After All

Israel responded to a Hamas cyberattack by blowing up the building that apparently housed the responsible hacking group, a new escalation in cyberwar doctrine. Google for the first time lets you limit how long it keeps your data—so go do that. And the CIA became the first intelligence agency to establish an official presence on…

Israel responded to a Hamas cyberattack by blowing up the building that apparently housed the responsible hacking group, a new escalation in cyberwar doctrine. Google for the first time lets you limit how long it keeps your data—so go do that. And the CIA became the first intelligence agency to establish an official presence on the Tor anonymous network. For some reason.

We also took a look inside China’s draconian surveillance of the Muslim Uyghur population, and explained why yet another major dark web takedown hasn’t actually rattled the underground internet drug trade. We explained why artificial intelligence doesn’t actually “hallucinate,” as had previously been thought, and what the practice known as application shielding does—and doesn’t—do to keep code safe from hackers. We traced the strange journey of a wicked NSA zero-day that multiple hackers got their hands on illicitly, and detailed the failings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, currently being used to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Elsewhere, a new indictment raises questions about the motives behind major health care hack. And in perhaps the least surprising news of the week, major cryptocurrency exchange Binance got hacked to the tune of $40 million.

And there’s more! Each week we round up the news that we didn’t break or cover in depth but that you should know about. As always, click on the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

Robert Mueller Won’t Testify This Week After All

While a firm date hadn’t been set, special counsel Robert Mueller had been widely expected to testify about his report on Russian election interference—and Donald Trump’s obstructive tendencies—as early as May 15. Alas, it’s not to be. After Trump himself flip-flopping on whether he’s OK with it and the Justice Department sending mixed

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Crypto Currency

San Francisco Bans Agency Use of Facial Recognition Tech

facial recognition by city agencies, a first-of-its-kind measure that has inspired similar efforts elsewhere.Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.San Francisco’s ban covers government agencies, including the city police and county sheriff’s department, but doesn’t affect the technology that unlocks your iPhone or cameras installed by businesses or individuals. It’s part of…

facial recognition by city agencies, a first-of-its-kind measure that has inspired similar efforts elsewhere.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

San Francisco’s ban covers government agencies, including the city police and county sheriff’s department, but doesn’t affect the technology that unlocks your iPhone or cameras installed by businesses or individuals. It’s part of a broader package of rules, introduced in January by supervisor Aaron Peskin, that will require agencies to gain approval from the board before purchasing surveillance tech and will require that they publicly disclose its intended use. In coming weeks, Oakland and Somerville, Massachusetts, are expected to consider facial-recognition bans of their own.

Facial-recognition technology has been used by law enforcement to spot fraud and identify suspects, but critics say that recent advances in AI have transformed the technology into a dangerous tool that enables real-time surveillance. Studies by researchers at MIT and Georgetown have found that the technology is less accurate at identifying people of color and could automate biases already pervasive in law enforcement. Privacy advocates see banning facial recognition as a unique opportunity to prevent the technology from getting too entrenched. “We’re doing it now before the genie gets out of the bottle,” says Brian Hofer, an attorney who heads Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission, which spearheaded the legislation in that city.

In San Francisco, the police department says it doesn’t currently use facial recognition, although it tested the technology on booking photos between 2013 and 2017. The Sheriff’s department, which is included under the board’s unique city-and-county authority, says it doesn’t either. “We will comply with whatever the requirements are,” says spokeswoman Nancy Crowley, adding that officers are equipped with Axon body camera

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Crypto Currency

New to Blockchain: Turning In-Game Virtual Goods into Assets

resident CryptoKitty, a cartoon cat with tiger stripes and trembling eyes, for $1.05. Since then, we haven’t seen her much. A so-called “digital collectible,” she lives a lonely life in perpetuity at an address on the Ethereum blockchain: You can look at her, but little else. Soon, though, her digital life could gain a bit…

resident CryptoKitty, a cartoon cat with tiger stripes and trembling eyes, for $1.05. Since then, we haven’t seen her much. A so-called “digital collectible,” she lives a lonely life in perpetuity at an address on the Ethereum blockchain: You can look at her, but little else. Soon, though, her digital life could gain a bit more excitement—in the hands of game developers.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

For developers, the technology that underpins Catoshi offers an intriguing twist on the economics of gaming. Virtual goods are already a $50 billion-plus annual market, making up the bulk of gaming industry revenue as players shell out for the likes of fancier virtual swords and new character outfits. But unlike a CryptoKitty, gamers don’t really own the virtual items they pay for: at the end of the day, they’re pixels that disappear when you delete the game. Companies like Andreessen Horowitz–backed Forte and Hong Kong’s Animoca, which invested in CryptoKitties last year, want to use blockchain technology to turn these ephemeral items into assets.

Kevin Chou, Forte’s CEO, previously founded Kabam, the mobile gaming company that was a pioneer of the so-called freemium model: Games that are free to download and don’t require a fancy console to play, but generate revenue by selling virtual goods. Chou’s insight was that people increasingly live their lives online, and put real value on their virtual experience. “Imagine a person who’s spending three or four hours a day playing a game and is plugged into the community, talking about what’s going on in their lives with their friends,” he says. That makes people more likely to pay for virtual items, whether to unlock new types of gameplay or simply because they look pretty. Kabam sold for nearly $1 billion in 2017, primarily to South Korea’s Netmarble.

But Chou says in-game economies have grown so complicated that developers have trouble overseeing them. As a result, they place limits. Game developers typically sell goods directly to gamers and keep a firm grip on the levers of supply and demand. There’s no mechanism for players to sell the virtual items among themselves—because they don’t actually own the things. “Right now these are basically command-and-control economies,” says Brett Seyler, Forte’s chief platform officer.

Some players find loopholes to buy and sell their in-game spoils.CounterStrike: Global Offensive, a popular multiplayer shooting game, became notorious for supporting billions of dollars in bets that use decorative virtual weapons, known as “skins,” as gambling chips to wager

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Crypto Currency

Not caring about bad news, Bitcoin goes above $6,000 for the first time this year

If you thought that the theft of 7,000 bitcoins from one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges would stop Bitcoin’s price in its tracks, you were wrong.  On Thursday, the price of Bitcoin went above $6,000 for the first time since November last year. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $6,102.64 according…


If you thought that the theft of 7,000 bitcoins from one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges would stop Bitcoin’s price in its tracks, you were wrong. 

On Thursday, the price of Bitcoin went above $6,000 for the first time since November last year. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $6,102.64 according to CoinMarketCap. 

The Binance hack — made worse by the company CEO Changpeng Zhao’s short-lived suggestion to change Bitcoin’s history to undo the hack — wasn’t the only recent bad news for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. In April, news broke that China is considering banning cryptocurrency mining in the country. Later that month, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and stablecoin Tether were accused by the New York Attorney General of covering up an $850 million loss of customer fund

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Crypto Currency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency

Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency
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