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Minnesota Official Alarms Privacy Advocates With Contact Tracing Comments

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At a press conference Sunday Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner John Harrington compared the methods police were using to identify protestors to those used to track COVID-19 cases. 

We’ve “begun analyzing the data of who we have arrested, and begun, actually, doing what you would think as almost pretty similar to our COVID. It’s contact tracing. Who are they associated with? What platforms are they advocating for?” he said. 

The Department of Public Safety works in partnership with local state and federal law enforcement and emergency response agencies.

Public health and privacy experts reacted with alarm, saying that conflating law enforcement and contact tracing could hamper COVID-19 tracing efforts by sowing distrust of the process as protests continue across the U.S.

“You need people to engage with contact tracing to save lives during an epidemic,” said Nigel Smart, a Swiss professor who has been a key figure in pushing Europe towards decentralized contact tracing protocols. He said that from a public policy point of view, the statement was both worrisome and short sighted.

See also: As Pandemic Decimates Startups, Privacy Industry Holds Strong

“Making people think that contact tracing could also be used for political or law enforcement may make people less likely to engage with contact tracing during an epidemic. Which will then lead to unnecessary loss of life.”

This sentiment was echoed by Caitlin Rivers, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which is closely tracking the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S.

“This is not contact tracing! What is described in the video is police work,” said Rivers in a tweet. “To see the two linked jeopardizes the credibility of public health, which needs community trust to work effectively.”

Protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd have raged for days in Minneapolis and across the U.S. George Floyd was an African-American man who was killed by police when an officer kneeled on his neck and choked him for more than eight minutes. The incident was caught on video. 

The real danger is that COVID tracing apps in the name of public health will be weaponized against dissidents, which is why we must support decentralized alternatives.

The U.S. does not have an official database for tracking police brutality. But according to the research group Mapping Police Violence, last year alone police killed more than 1,000 people, with black people disproportionately among those killed. 

The concerns over undermining contact tracing efforts are exacerbated when black people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 in America. 

Contact tracing is the process of ascertaining whom people infected with COVID-19 might have come into contact with during the period in which they were contagious. 

Governments, health experts and privacy advocates have been debating for weeks how invasive privacy-speaking contact tracing tech would need to be. 

See also: COVID-19 Tracing Apps Have to Go Viral to Work. That’s a Big Ask

Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), was alarmed by law enforcement’s suggestion that surveillance of protesters, and their beliefs and associations, is similar to contact tracing.

“Public health officials undertaking contact tracing must never share the personal information they collect with police, immigration enforcement agencies, or intelligence officials,” said Schwartz. 

“In fact, we need new legislation to guarantee this. Likewise, contact tracing should gather the least possible information, retain it for the shortest possible period of time, and use it for nothing except contact tracing.”

Harry Halpin, a technologist and CEO of Nym, a privacy-tech startup, said the technique of contact tracing is the same whether it’s detecting coronavirus spread or targetting political protesters in the U.S. supporting Black Lives Matter. But that underscores the need for systems that by design don’t allow information related to COVID-19 to be shared with law enforcement.

“The real danger is that COVID tracing apps in the name of public health will be weaponized against dissidents, which is why we must support decentralized alternatives,” said Halpin. “Overall, if possible always leave your phone at home, even at protests!”

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Source: https://www.coindesk.com/minnesota-official-alarms-privacy-advocates-with-contact-tracing-comments

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Mining Bitcoin: How to Mine Bitcoin

Introduction to Bitcoin Mining Mid-19th century California gold miners were called “forty-niners” after the year 1849, but this rush actually spanned from 1848-1853; it took five years for a quarter-million people to flood the state in search of “free wealth”. Satoshi Nakamoto first published the white paper on cryptocurrency back in 2008, and Bitcoin was … Continued

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Introduction to Bitcoin Mining

Mid-19th century California gold miners were called “forty-niners” after the year 1849, but this rush actually spanned from 1848-1853; it took five years for a quarter-million people to flood the state in search of “free wealth”. Satoshi Nakamoto first published the white paper on cryptocurrency back in 2008, and Bitcoin was launched in 2009. Today, in 2019, there are at least a million bitcoin miners around the world. A single bitcoin (or “1 BTC”) is worth almost $10,000, give or take a few hundred dollars, and there are around 1,800 new bitcoins mined every day, meaning there’s a whopping $18,000,000 being ‘created’ every day.

Not bad for ten years. No wonder everyone wants to learn how to mine bitcoin.

A Brief History on Money

Cryptocurrency is math that can be used as money.

Money is, fundamentally, an accounting of debt; you owe someone for a good or service, and giving them money erases that debt. Banks are giant ledgers, accounting for every transaction – when you paid for your coffee, this “ledger” sees that you lost $2 and the coffee shop gained $2.

Paper dollar bills do not record this specific transaction – who lost and who gained those $2 – but they act as evidence of a transaction having taken place at some point. In fiat currency, a state is the ultimate arbiter or holder of all the debts – and the one that mints, or makes, the currency in the first place. They account for how much currency they put out, and approximately how much is present now; the only road bump being that they do not know every transaction in between.

In cryptocurrency, no one person or entity controls a central ledger, because this “ledger” is effectively on every computer connected to the network of that currency; everyone has it. Since each unit of the cryptocurrency is composed of math, as opposed to physical substances like paper or gold, this math effectively records every transaction

So Where Does it Come From?

Fiat currencies are “made” (or rather, minted) by states, and accounted for by banks, but these currencies are often directly or indirectly made from precious metals that are mined from the Earth – which is why so many people flooded California in the mid-19th century. Minting is a middle step between the mining and the currency.

Cryptocurrency cuts out that middle step; bitcoin is “minted” and made from BTC mining.

If bitcoin is commercialized math, then mining is the process of solving all its equations. A common, yet accurate, joke explanation is, “imagine if you could solve puzzles, then use those solved puzzles as money”. Bitcoin is that, but on a much larger and astronomically more complex scale; bitcoin mining is both the process of solving puzzles, and the process of verifying other solves puzzles.

That said, these “puzzles” (called “blocks” in BTC mining) are operating on a very complicated scale. BTC mining is basically the process of racing to correctly the correct number out of 115,792,090,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible options – and doing so hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of times a day. This takes some pretty hefty computing power.

How to Mine Bitcoin

Despite a lot of chatter about bitcoin mining software, it is really a matter of hardware; software is just the most accessible way to access this hardware.

“Winning” or solving – and receiving payout for – is a combination of computational power and a bit of luck. If you accomplish this, you can get about 12.5 bitcoins, though starting in 2020, that will become 6.25. The number of bitcoins you receive for solving a block cuts in half every 210,000 blocks – which is roughly every four years, since the blocks get more and more complicated over time. This will keep going until 21 million bitcoins have been mined, a cap built into the system. There are currently only 3.17 million bitcoin left to be mined.

How to Mine Bitcoin in the Hard(ware) Way

There are two types of “miners” you can buy: application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or graphics processing unit (GPU). These are not only very expensive to buy, but they also take up a lot of electricity and require a powerful network connection. This is why mining calculators exist – these are various apps and sites into which you can input details on your miner, your power cost, and your network cost, to figure out how much profit (if any, even) you will turn.

It is usually pretty low, and these days, mining with your own hardware is only really advised for people who already happen to have lots of hardware and great network on hand, and would not need to go out of their way to get those.

That just leaves…

How to Mine Bitcoin With Bitcoin Mining Software

At 12.5 BTC per block, when bitcoins are worth $10,000 each, that’s $1,250,000 on the line every time you are competing with other miners to “guess the right number” first. This takes far more computer power than most people can afford on their own.

As such, the most common way to get in on BTC mining is to join a collective of miners and “rent” the mining tools – known predominantly as cloud mining.

The biggest advantage is that there is a much lower barrier to entry when you cloud mine bitcoins. The biggest disadvantage is that instead of getting the reward all to yourself, you are splitting those bitcoins with other people, and typically a lot of them. Winning a million dollars doesn’t mean as much when you’re splitting it with a million people.

Step 1: Choose Your Wallet

Before you start working for a job, you want to know how you will be getting your pay. By the same token, before you start mining for bitcoins, you should know where you will keep your bitcoins once you earn them.

Online wallets are typically the most convenient, and easiest to use. They are also typically the most efficient for actually using your bitcoins to purchase goods and services, and you will have your bitcoins even if you lose all your devices. That said, this does put you in a similar position with a bank. If the host is experiencing heavy traffic or DDOS attacks, you may not be able to access your funds, and if they are hacked, you can lose your bitcoins entirely.

Hardware wallets are the opposite extreme. As physical objects, are completely offline, and thus cannot be hacked or otherwise remotely attacked. As long as you have your hardware wallet and a device to access it with, you will be able to access your funds. But what you gain in remote security is lost in personal security; if you lose your device or it’s physically stolen from you, you lose your bitcoins.
The middle-ground between these is “software wallets” or “desktop wallets” (though these can also be mobile apps). These are on your local device, so even if exchanges go down or are attacked, you still have your bitcoins, and the only way you can lose them to remote exploitation is if you, the specific individual, are targeted and hacked, which is very unlikely. But, it can still be used to conduct transactions and otherwise go online as necessary. That said, this is also vulnerable to loss if you lose your physical device (i.e. if someone steals your computer).

Step 2: Find Your Cloud

Mining companies are the computing clouds or collectives of miners. While joining such a company might be couched in terms of renting the hardware, another way to look at it might be that you are investing.

The amount you invest, or the rate at which you rent, is known as a “mining package”, which you pick once you join a mining company. You can also invest ahead of time in new technology that will be coming out at a later date. That said, investing in something that doesn’t exist yet is always a heavy risk.

There are many sites in which you can find comparisons between companies, including user ratings and reviews. Be careful with the
reviews – while they can be insightful, many are also full of people attempting to get new ‘recruits’ specifically with referral codes, which will net the refer-er a small bonus or profit.

Step 3: Pick Your Pool

A “pool” is basically the team of miners that you choose to join up with, and contribute your invest or computing power. If you are just starting out mining bitcoins, you should start by joining an “older” (or rather, more established and vouched-for) pool, and perhaps one with lower fees. The payout or profit from these will usually be on the low side, but they are also less risky.

As you get the hang of bitcoin mining and learn how pools work, you can start venturing out to other pools that aren’t as established and carry higher risks, but also higher rewards.

Buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and other cryptocurrencies on Coinsquare, the world’s home for cryptocurrency.


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Source: Coinsquare: Mining Bitcoin: How to Mine Bitcoin

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