Plagiarism, Trash Talk & Outright Lies in Cryptoland
If you think political rhetoric gets out of hand in election season, wait till you see how people attack and get attacked in the crypto blogosphere.
We know. Sometimes, we’re even the target.
When we first launched our crypto ratings early last year, for example, we gave Bitcoin a "C+." Bitcoin fans wanted our heads on a stake. They even mounted a cyberattack against our website.
Since then, however, Bitcoin has enjoyed step-by-step technological upgrades, continued dominance in adoption, and a new bull market (despite still-high downside risk).
Result: Bitcoin’s overall Weiss Crypto Rating is now "B+." That’s high. It’s at that high level thanks to its excellent Tech/Adoption grade of "A." And it could be higher if it weren’t for its Risk/Reward grade of "C." Moreover, even its Risk/Reward grade should improve as the bull market continues, the overall market matures and its volatility declines over time.
In recent days, we were the subject of similar attacks, albeit on a smaller scale. Consider this sequence of events …
On June 20, we published a negative review of Nano. We sent it out via email to thousands of subscribers who’ve paid for our premium service, Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings. And we posted it to the members-only area of our website.
Then, on July 12, a rogue website, which had somehow acquired a copy of our Nano review, posted it word for word without attribution.
Our Twitter account was suddenly flooded with requests for our opinion on Nano. In response we republished our own June Nano review on July 26 but this time on our website that’s open to the public.
Nano fans found the July 12 post on the rogue website, as well as on Steem. They compared it to our July 26 republication. And they lashed out on social media, saying we plagiarized what was actually our own proprietary content. They didn’t know that thousands of our subscribers will attest to the fact that they got it from us, via email, back on June 20.
In any case, we responded, posting a new pdf copy of our original in a public location. And they counterattacked with a whole new round of absurdities.
But none of this Nano nonsense is very unusual. Crypto bloggers are famous for touting coins they own and trashing those they don’t.
Nor does any of this vitriol change the underlying realities — that Bitcoin ran into severe challenges in early 2018, that Nano faces other kinds of challenges today, and that many once-popular coins will ultimately fade into the footnotes of history.
Despite some innovative ideas, Nano could someday be among them. It currently merits a "D+," low because of its weak Tech/Adoption grade of "D+" and even weaker Risk/Reward of "D." (For more details on the challenges it faces, go here.)
Internet trolls have no monopoly on hype, fearmongering and misinformation campaigns. Major governments are also guilty, sometimes in a more perverse way.
In fact, the anti-crypto government rhetoric has been heating up over the past few months, mostly in response to the likes of Facebook, which is looking to get a piece of the crypto action by launching its own blockchain-based digital asset.
This raised more than few eyebrows among regulators all over the world, with some promising of “swift and decisive action” if the crypto space “steps out of bounds.”
U.S. officials have lashed out against Bitcoin. India and China reiterated their bans on cryptocurrency trading. And Iran has banned the use of crypto assets for “domestic transactions.”
For the untrained observer, all this government gobbledygook creates the impression that Bitcoin and other crypto assets exist by virtue of government largesse.
As soon as governments simply say “no,” goes the theory, then crypto will die.
That’s pure baloney, and we showed you why last week. But it’s so deeply ingrained in the public’s perception, we feel compelled to maintain the drumbeat against it.
Take Iran’s latest ruling against so-called “domestic transactions.”
They seem to be referring to transactions in which both the sender and the receiver are located within their borders.
But here’s the rub: The Bitcoin protocol does not recognize borders. A transaction is valid as long as the sender’s address can produce a valid signature that has a claim on the assets being transferred. How does the network verify that the address in question does indeed have a claim on any Bitcoin? By studying the history of the Bitcoin ledger down to the very origin of the Bitcoins being sent.
Is there a name attached to the sending and receiving addresses? Nope, a Bitcoin address is just a very long number.
What about the “signature”? That’s derived from a private key, which, again, is just a very long number.
Why Most Government Officials Don’t Get It
Typically, when governments look at Bitcoin — or crypto in general — they search for parallels to things they know.
For example, they associate Bitcoin addresses with email addresses. Or they associate the private keys with passwords. Neither is accurate.
With email addresses and passwords, a central authority controls all the data. And there are no technological barriers that might prevent them from reading every single email you’ve ever written — even emails you’ve deleted. They have direct access to everything.
Not so with Bitcoin addresses and keys. How is that possible? How does one set up a system of accounts that never allows anyone but the account holder himself access to the keys?
Answer: The mathematics of cryptography.
In this system, not only is your private key a very long number, it’s a number that only you know. And your “address” — which is used for sending and receiving crypto — is simply another number mathematically derived from your private key.
This is why Iran and other governments can do little more than blow smoke. They have no way of knowing whether two parties to a transaction are local citizens.
They have no way of knowing how many parties are involved in a transaction. Nor do they know who, what or where they are.
All that anyone, including the most intrusive authorities, can see is a series of alphanumeric values used as addresses plus the quantity of Bitcoins moving through them. Everything else is invisible.
So how in the heck is Tehran going enforce its so-called “ban on domestic transactions”?
“But that’s just Iran,” you say. “Surely other countries have more sophisticated tools to track and ban crypto users, right?”
Consider how the U.S. is supposedly “blacklisting” two Bitcoin addresses. Owners of blacklisted addresses can simply move their Bitcoin to another address. They can then put it through what’s called “a mixer.” Then to an “atomic swap” with a privacy-enhanced asset. Then, back again to Bitcoin.
Result: The blacklisted Bitcoin disappears.
Never forget …
Bitcoin is built to be decentralized: You’re the only one who controls your assets. No one is in charge of this network. No country. No government. No institution.
Bitcoin is built to be censorship resistant: It is almost impossible to link an address to its owner. And in the rare cases that the info is discovered via other means, changing addresses is a trivial task.
Attempts to cripple Bitcoin are ineffective. Whenever you hear of a government trying to “crack down” on crypto with a “ban on domestic transactions,” “sanctions against certain addresses,” or other measures, don’t bat an eyelash. Chances are, they’re futile.
As Andreas Antonopoulos likes to say: There is a difference between “can’t” and “won’t.”
In the banking system, institutions probably won’t confiscate your money. But in the Bitcoin network, they can’t.
Bottom line: Beware of the lies and deceptions. Trust only third-party objective analysis and research that has no conflict of interest.
Juan and Martin