Dissident Tech

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Dissident Tech

“Like frogs in the proverbial pot, we’ve collectively spent the last few decades actually and metaphorically signing away our rights when it comes to our data and our privacy.”

-NLW on Long Reads Sunday

I wrote last week about PayPal’s snap decision to cut off 100k PornHub performers from the online payment giant’s services. It’s part of a long list of alarming trends towards Orwellian surveillance of every aspect of the financial system, and the tendency to suspend “others” access to products that most of us take for granted.

If those others are deemed unworthy of access, of course.

But who’s to judge exactly?

This encroachment of financial rights and privacy started as part of the post 9/11 effort to choke off terrorists and criminal networks. (The PATRIOT Act admittedly sounds better than the “this actually solidified the fact that Bin Laden won the war” Act.) But that encroachment has moved deliberately towards less dangerous, still iffy legal gray areas like porn, pot, and gambling.

These days anyone can be de-platformed from social media and unplugged from the financial matrix. For any reason, really.

In fact, they don’t even tell you why anymore.

Bank of America even suspended a random VC’s bank account earlier this week without explanation.

Except the random VC is actually Sequoia partner, Roelof Botha who took over Sequoia's US operations from legendary investor Jim Goetz, and is…

THE FORMER CFO AT PAYPAL.

Disturbing.

And one of the most meaningful canaries in the coal mine I’ve seen in a while.

People may cheer the Alex Jones ban from Facebook. He’s an easy-to-hate villain. They may shrug their shoulders when protests erupt on the other side of the world or citizens try to flee hostile regimes with the clothes on their back (“sucks for them, but not my problem”). They may crack jokes about sex workers or marijuana entrepreneurs getting cut off from banking services.

But seriously. This guy?

They’re coming after the white guys in the Patagonia vests now?

For any ongoing debate as to whether the addressable market for anti-surveillance or dissident tech is large enough to command attention - and help crypto cross the chasm to the mainstream - this should provide an alarming signal. If people like Botha are losing bank accounts now, we’re closer to crypto’s mainstream moment than you think.

It may be better to think about the addressable market size of crypto as “everyone eventually” by reframing the conversation entirely.

I like Peter Thiel’s quip here that “Crypto is libertarian. AI is communist.”

It’s a catchy meme - with more mainstream proponents these days - that the industry may need to catch fire and finally expand from niche to necessity.

And it may take a patriotic sounding meme to resist the surveillance cancer that has metastasized from the original PATRIOT act.

-TBI

P.S. This weekend’s Long Reads Sunday fully captured all sides of this emerging narrative. I have little to add in the way of curation. It’s perfect. Read it here.


Messari Compression Algorithm

Content and thoughts from around the web as summarized by the Messari team.

🔒 Today MakerDAO ($MKR) is transitioning to the long-awaited Multi-Collateral Dai system that introduces support for different types of collateral besides ETH and makes some key structural changes. The first type of collateral to be available is Basic Attention Token ($BAT) which will have an initial debt ceiling of three million Dai compared to 50 million for Ether ($ETH).

The current single collateral Dai (“Sai”) will continue to exist while users are encouraged to migrate to the new Dai. Another major change is the introduction of the Dai Savings Rate (DSR) which acts as an interest-bearing savings account. Unlike traditional accounts, it does not lend the money out, but rather it pays interest to depositors using funds from the Stability fee.

Why it matters:

  • New collateral types should increase the addressable market of collateralized debt as well as the stability of the system by diversifying the debt pools.

  • The Stability Fee has been changed significantly throughout the year jumping from 0.5% to over 20% back down to 5%. The DSR provides another lever to adjust in order to keep Dai around $1 which should lessen interest rate volatility.

♎️ In a recent update, Libra Association developer Michael Engle revealed the project’s testnet is seeing continued improvement, logging more than 51,000 transactions since mid-September, and its (currently private) “Pre-mainnet” staging environment features seven deployed nodes, with fourteen more in-process. Engle also said the testnet now supports 34 projects created by community contributors, though over 30 of these projects are either wallets, clients, or block explorers.

Why it matters:

  • The update shows Libra is continuing to progress in development despite being under regulatory cross-fire from multiple jurisdictions. Based on the evidence provided in the update, any delays to mainnet launch will not result from technical complexities but from a legal impasse or lack of node operator interest.

  • Community engagement is promising with 34 projects added in just seven weeks. Now, Libra needs to onboard more partner nodes on its Pre-mainnet, which at seven deployed nodes is 93 nodes short of its live mainnet goal.

🚀 The Oasis Foundation announced its first public testnet is now live. The current version only allows users to spin up a node, but the Oasis team intends to add staking and delegations features soon. In the long-term, the Oasis protocol aims to provide a smart contract platform with built-in data privacy through the use of secure enclaves and zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs).

Why It Matters:

  • Once staking and delegation incentives are live, the Oasis Foundation will host a testnet staking competition, dubbed “The Quest,” and allocate ~1% of its native token supply to the event’s participants. Incentivized testnet competitions help early-stage projects bootstrap a network of validators and stress test the technology in a realistic environment. We cover these experiments in more detail in our Incentivizing Testnet Participation Pro research report.

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