Is the NSA bogeyman dead or sleeping?

Chris Dannen

By Chris Dannen


It's either defunct, or it never existed; who can remember? Certainly not the NSA, which claims the surveillance system commissioned by George W. Bush (and revealed publicly by Edward Snowden in 2013) reportedly "hasn't been used in months." Originally built to analyze domestic calls and texts, the program's goal was to establish the social networks of suspected terrorists. Is it possible the system has fallen into disuse because there's a better way of infiltrating the American social graph? We may not find out until December of this year, when the program is up for renewal under the "USA Freedom Act" of 2015. In 2017, the program was assigned to track just 40 suspects, but collected over half a billion phone and text records."

Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says
"The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks. ... Intelligence agencies can use the technique on data obtained through other means, like collection from networks abroad, where there are fewer legal limits."

Other News

Bitcoin Miners Are Investing Again, Expecting a Cheap Power Boom Soon
"Bitcoin miners in China are buying used equipment and making deals with mining farms and hydroelectric plants, betting abundant water this summer will make their businesses profitable again. That’s because during this season a significant amount of excess electricity is expected to be generated by hundreds of hydropower stations, especially in China’s mountainous southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. This level of excess power results in competitive electricity costs for bitcoin miners, making it perhaps one of the rare opportunities to earn profits in the current bear market that has already impacted the mining sector."

Coinbase Now Says It Never Shared ‘Personally Identifiable’ Customer Data
"Specifically, Christine Sandler, Coinbase’s director of institutional sales, justified the Neutrino acquisition during an interview with Cheddar last Friday by saying the exchange’s previous analytics provider was 'selling client data to outside sources.' Coinbase now says Sandler misspoke. A spokesperson told CoinDesk Tuesday that the exchange 'never shared our customers’ personally identifiable information with any third-party blockchain analysis vendors.'"

Living up to our values and the Neutrino acquisition
"However, we had a gap in our diligence process. While we looked hard at the technology and security of the Neutrino product, we did not properly evaluate everything from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company. We took some time to dig further into this over the past week, and together with the Neutrino team have come to an agreement: those who previously worked at Hacking Team (despite the fact that they have no current affiliation with Hacking Team), will transition out of Coinbase. This was not an easy decision, but their prior work does present a conflict with our mission. We are thankful to the Neutrino team for engaging with us on this outcome."

College Kids Are Using Campus Electricity to Mine Crypto
"Security researchers at Cisco have been monitoring cryptocurrency mining across different industry verticals, and college campuses are the second biggest miners of virtual currencies, at about 22 percent."

US federal deficit widens 77% in first four months of fiscal 2019
"The federal budget deficit ballooned in the first four months of the 2019 fiscal year, growing 77% over the same period a year earlier as tax revenue plummeted and government spending went up. Figures released Tuesday by the Treasury Department showed the deficit hitting $310 billion, up from $176 billion a year ago. ... The growing deficit is being driven in part by the 2017 Republican tax reform, which sharply cut taxes for corporations as well as individuals. Treasury said revenue from taxes collected from individuals for the period for October 2018 through January 2019 fell 2% to $19 billion. Revenue from corporations declined about 22% to $58.9 billion from $75.5 billion."

Argentinian Government to Invest in Blockchain Projects Backed by Binance Labs, LatamEx
"The government of Argentina is set to invest in early-stage blockchain startups backed by the venture arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance. The country’s Ministry of Production and Labour announced Wednesday that it will match investments of up to $50,000 into every Argentinian blockchain project that receives funding from Binance Labs via the second season of its incubator program, and LatamEX Founders Lab. The ministry plans to invest in up to 10 blockchain projects each year for a period of four years, and will make the investments through Founder Labs, a local blockchain accelerator."

Why Crypto Companies Still Can’t Open Checking Accounts
"'The standard answer of 'just go to your local Chase branch' doesn’t work in crypto,' said Sam Bankman-Fried, chief executive officer of Alameda Research, a digital-assets trading firm in Berkeley, California. 'It’s not illegal for big banks to bank the crypto industry, but it’s a massive compliance headache that they don’t want to put the resources in to solve.'"

CryptoMap: 3 Reasons Why Germany Is Turning Into A Crypto Hub
"Many countries in Europe and not only are looking up to Germany and often duplicate their ways towards new technologies. People and governments regard Germany as an example of success when it comes to the finance industry and economics in general. Many events also happen throughout the country and participation is always high, and other cities are following the suit of Berlin — many FinTech and crypto startups appear in Hamburg, Munich, Hannover, Cologne, etc."