Chinese Mining Pool Lets Miners Weigh In on Bitcoin Core Vs. Bitcoin Classic Support

The Bitcoin block size drama continues, as it has taken yet another interesting turn. Even though F2pool is considering removing their consensus support, the mining pool has also opened up their platform to feedback from individual miners regarding the 2MB block size increase. It is only due diligence to ask the opinion of the people who protect and secure the Bitcoin network every day.
Also read: BitLox: ‘Indestructible’ Hardware Bitcoin Wallet
F2Pool Asks The Miners What They Think

Despite the Bitcoin block size debate going on for quite some time now, hardly anyone has ever considered asking the miners what they think. Nearly all of the focus has been on the developers – from both Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Classic – as well as the mining pool owners complaining how larger blocks will make their business a lot harder to manage.
All of that is fine and dandy, and those discussions need to take place at some point. But at the same time, a lot of people have lost track of which parties made to the Bitcoin network into what it is today, and those individuals are the miners. Without people mining Bitcoin, the network would become vulnerable, and no transactions would be processed. In fact, the entire ecosystem would grind to a halt.
F2Pool is the very first – and so far only – mining pool to ask the opinion of their miners as to how they feel about the 2MB block size increase. While some people may argue the miners will not be directly affected by a block size increase, the future of Bitcoin and its development is of the utmost importance to them as well.
.@JihanWu Giving individual hashers a voice is admirable, but doing so via false nVersion settings is dangerous; use the coinbase instead.
— Peter Todd (@petertoddbtc) February 25, 2016

Bitcoin community members and developers have commended F2Pool for taking this action while trying to push political agendas at the same time. It seems rather difficult to have a debate on the Bitcoin ecosystem without referring to either Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Classic software solutions these days.
@TheBlueMatt @JihanWu F2Pool is running core. They are letting miners vote with the block version but they are not running classic.
— Sam Jones (@_samjones) February 25, 2016

Furthermore, it didn’t take long until people started spewing allegations as to how F2Pool is running Bitcoin Core and does not even offer Bitcoin Classic support right now. This is – allegedly – a clear hint as to how they see the future of Bitcoin and its development, which would directly influence the miners’ decision.
Roundtable Agreement Is Useless

While nearly all of the Bitcoin mining pools came to some consensus on the block size debate during a recent Roundtable meeting, it looks like things are starting to unravel fast. Not only is F2Pool threatening to remove their consensus support unless Blockstream and Adan Back come clean, but community members are questioning the legitimacy and usefulness of this agreement.
In the end, a roundtable agreement behind closed doors by a select few individuals holds no validity in the Bitcoin world. Majority consensus cannot be reached by enforcing a particular solution upon the people who make up this community. This story is far from over, and in the end, the community will have the final word, not the “chosen few” who think they can make every decision in this space.
What are your thoughts on F2Pool asking miners’ opinions? Will other pools follow by example? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Twitter
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Hong Kong to “Explore the Application of Blockchain Technology in the Financial Services Industry”

Blockchain technology has a reaffirmed ally in the Hong Kong government. In the recent 2016 Hong Kong budget speech, Financial Secretary John Tsang spoke on many subjects close to the hearts of the Asian monetary center, including blockchain technology and the recent Mong Kong protest.  While the budget plan makes no explicit mention of Bitcoin, the vast majority of extant “blockchain technology” companies that are domiciled in Hong Kong work with the Bitcoin blockchain. The government plans to set up educational platforms for fintech, as well as a Cyberport Macro Fund with $200 million. Over the next five years, the Hong Kong government will steer investments into 150 fintech startups – and blockchain companies are expressly included. According to the 63rd paragraph of the 2016 HK budget plan:
Government will encourage the industry and relevant organisations to explore the application of “Blockchain” technology in the financial services industry, with a view to developing its potential to reduce suspicious transactions and bring down transaction costs.
Also read: Is China Turning to Bitcoin as the Yuan Devalues?
Hong Kong Leads Chinese Bitcoin Interest
It’s poignant to think of HK’s latest commitment to supporting blockchain technology experimentation as the forefront of good favor from the Chinese government. The outer edges of the Chinese Community Party’s control have more or less been allowed to innovate over the last few decades. Companies in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) benefit from Western customers and Western cultural practices such as capitalism. Companies that succeeded in this mission were applauded for championing “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” while the failures were swept under the rug. Hong Kong is even better positioned currently and historically than these SEZs. Since Hong Kong was returned to the People’s Republic of China, HK has remained a separate-but-interconnected financial hub with looser regulations. Tsang explained the One Country, Two Systems principle as it applies between HK and China:
“We have not only a free and open market, but also efficient and transparent regulatory regimes well aligned with international standards.”
Hong Kong is the historical financial center that sits between the East and the West. Many Bitcoin and blockchain companies have already seen the “favourable” signs and headquartered in Hong Kong – expect more to make the move. The world is finally waking up to the fact that Bitcoin reduces suspicious transactions and transaction fees.
Featured image from Barbara Willi.The post Hong Kong to “Explore the Application of Blockchain Technology in the Financial Services Industry” appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Court Documents Imply FBI and University in Collusion Against Tor Network

Back in November 2015, the Tor Project accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of paying $1 million to Carnegie Mellon University to help reveal users within the network. The FBI were looking for the operators of the Silk Road 2.0 illicit drug website and supposedly used research coming directly from the school. Now recent court documents from the case claim the Feds did use the academic resources to take down the drug ring.
Also read: New UK Cybercrime Report Makes No Mention of Bitcoin
“This attack also sets a troubling precedent: Civil liberties are under attack if law enforcement believes it can circumvent the rules of evidence by outsourcing police work to universities. If academia uses “research” as a stalking horse for privacy invasion, the entire enterprise of security research will fall into disrepute. Legitimate privacy researchers study many online systems, including social networks — If this kind of FBI attack by university proxy is accepted, no one will have meaningful 4th Amendment protections online and everyone is at risk.” — Tor Project Blog, November 11, 2015
Court Denies Motion to Compel Discovery 
The Tor project had claimed that the FBI had paid $1 million for Carnegie Mellon researchers to break anonymization on the network to apprehend the Silk Road 2 members. Tor says the FBI unfortunately “indiscriminately targeted many users at once,” which they believe was a violation of civil rights. The organization does not believe the agents gathered a warrant for this and “CMU’s attack as conducted” broke ethical guidelines. Tor project said the entire procedure sets a horrible precedent where civil liberties are taken for granted. Especially considering university research is being “outsourced” to law enforcement for the monitoring of citizens.
In the latest documents, the public record of Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington details the defendant believes FBI did work with the university against the network. The account claims the school helped the FBI with the apprehension of Brian Farrell who called himself ‘DoctorChu’ within Silk Road 2 team operations. Homeland Security gained access to Farrell’s IP address in July of 2014 and eventually led to his January 2nd, 2015 arrest at his residential address. The court papers are a detailed “Motion to Compel Discovery,” by the defendant in which the court denies. The paperwork states:   
“Based upon the submissions of the parties, it is clear to the court the government has provided to the defendant basic information about the technique used by SEI to obtain IP addresses of Tor users, including the defendant. Among other items, the government’s disclosures included information regarding the funding and structure relationship between SEI and DOD, as well as directing the defendant to publicly available materials regarding the Tor network.”  — Silk Road 2 Motion to Compel, Case 2:15-cr-00029-RAJ Document 58 Filed February 23, 2016  
The defendant’s attorneys were looking for a technical analysis of the IP discovery process law enforcement used in the investigation. However, the court does not believe the information is useful to the defense stating, “any other discovery about the methodology or technique used to identify the defendant’s IP address is not material to his defense.” With the latest battle with encryption technology with the corporate giant, Apple and the revelations from Edward Snowden, this type of news is not uncommon this day in age. Surveillance and monitoring have become the norm, and now this protectionism is spreading to our universities. Civil liberty activists and the Tor Project feels because of this example and many before this it shows the world we are living in an age of troubling precedence.
What do you think about the FBI’s use of university research? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixbay, and Shutterstock
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