Facebook Releases Cryptocurrency White Paper for Libra Currency

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Aaron Wood reports:

Social media giant Facebook has released the white paper for its long-awaited cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial infrastructure project today, June 18.

According to the paper, Facebook’s global stablecoin, dubbed “libra,” will operate on the native and scalable Libra blockchain, and be backed by a reserve of assets ostensibly “designed to give it intrinsic value” and mitigate volatility fluctuations.  

These assets consist of a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities that will be held in the Libra Reserve for every Libra that is issued.

The website for the digital asset, calibra.com, was briefly down around 5AM EST, about when it went live.

The new cryptocurrency will be governed by a not-for-profit, Switzerland-based consortium — the “Libra Association” — which counts MastercardPayPalVisa, Stripe, eBay, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz and Uber among its founding members.

Facebook ostensibly plans to expand the association to around 100 members by the time of Libra’s launch in the first half of 2020. The white paper notes that:

“While final decision-making authority rests with the association, Facebook is expected to maintain a leadership role through 2019. Facebook created Calibra, a regulated subsidiary, to ensure separation between social and financial data and to build and operate services on its behalf on top of the Libra network.”

The Libra Association is itself governed by the Libra Association Council. The council’s members initially are the founding members, each of which runs a validator node on the network and was notably required to make a minimum investment of $10 million to seal the position. Each $10 million investment secures an entity one vote on the council, per Facebook.

Facebook has also revealed the release of the Libra Investment Token — distinct from its global user-oriented cryptocurrency libra — which can be purchased or distributed as dividends to the association’s founding members and accredited investors.

As libra is not technically pegged to any given national fiat currency, the white paper states that users will not always be able to redeem the token for a fixed amount of fiat, although Facebook claims that the reserve assets have been chosen so as to minimize volatility.

While the reserve assets are ostensibly held by “a geographically distributed network of custodians” in order to secure decentralization, the reserve is managed by the association itself, which is the only party able to mint and destroy the coin.

New libra are minted once authorized resellers have purchased the coins from the association with enough fiat to fully back their value, and burned when authorized resellers sell the token back to the association in exchange for the underlying assets. Moreover, the white paper states:

“Since authorized resellers will always be able to sell Libra coins to the reserve at a price equal to the value of the basket, the Libra Reserve acts as a ‘buyer of last resort.’”

Facebook further notes that the software that implements the Libra blockchain is open source in order to create an interoperable ecosystem of financial services and broaden inclusion.

Previous reports had indicated that the coin will facilitate payments across Facebook’s various platforms including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, giving the new coin potential exposure to a combined 2.7 billion users each month.

Via cointelegraph.com

Samsung to Seek Collaboration With Platform Firms on Blockchain Innovation and 6G

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Marie Huillet reports:

The vice chairman of South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung says the firm will seek to collaborate with platform companies on the development of blockchain, artificial intelligence and sixth-generation mobile networks. The news was reported by Bloomberg on June 16.

The vice chairman, Jay Y. Lee — who reportedly serves as the firm’s de facto leader — held discussions with Samsung executives to discuss the potential collaborations last week, according to a company statement cited by Bloomberg. A platform company is an initial acquisition by a private equity firm for the purpose of making further acquisitions within a certain sector.

Per Bloomberg, the move to pursue bleeding-edge technologies such as blockchain and 6G comes amid a rapidly changing business climate and structural changes in the technology industry, which ostensibly presents new challenges for major firms. In the statement, Lee noted:

“We should challenge ourselves with a resolution to make new foundations, moving beyond the scope of protecting our past achievements.”

As reported this May, Samsung’s forthcoming budget smartphones will allegedly include cryptocurrency and blockchain features.

Crypto and blockchain-related functionality already confirmed for the Samsung S10 will thus ostensibly be included in other Galaxy smartphone models.

At the end of April, an anonymous source had claimed that Samsung could eventually develop a public-private blockchain complete with its own token.

A Cointelegraph analysis published earlier this month covered the burgeoning trend among South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, Naver and NHN to pursue blockchain innovation, despite the government’s tough stance toward decentralized cryptocurrencies.

Via Cointelegraph.com

The Day the Music Burned

JODY ROSEN - The fire that swept across the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood on Sunday, June 1, 2008, began early that morning, in New England. At 4:43 a.m., a security guard at the movie studio and theme park saw flames rising from a rooftop on the set known as New England Street, a stretch of quaint Colonial-style buildings where small-town scenes were filmed for motion pictures and television shows. That night, maintenance workers had repaired the roof of a building on the set, using blowtorches to heat asphalt shingles. They finished the job at 3 a.m. and, following protocol, kept watch over the site for another hour to ensure that the shingles had cooled. But the roof remained hot, and some 40 minutes after the workers left, one of the hot spots flared up.

The fire moved quickly. It engulfed the backlot’s famous New York City streetscape. It burned two sides of Courthouse Square, a set featured in “Back to the Future.” It spread south to a cavernous shed housing the King Kong Encounter, an animatronic attraction for theme-park visitors. Hundreds of firefighters responded, including Universal Studios’ on-site brigade. But the fire crews were hindered by low water pressure and damaged sprinkler systems and by intense radiant heat gusting between combustible structures.

Eventually the flames reached a 22,320-square-foot warehouse that sat near the King Kong Encounter. The warehouse was nondescript, a hulking edifice of corrugated metal, but it was one of the most important buildings on the 400-acre lot. Its official name was Building 6197. To backlot workers, it was known as the video vault.

Shortly after the fire broke out, a 50-year-old man named Randy Aronson was awakened by a ringing phone at his home in Canyon Country, Calif., about 30 miles north of Universal City, the unincorporated area of the San Fernando Valley where the studio sits. Aronson had worked on the Universal lot for 25 years. His title was senior director of vault operations at Universal Music Group (UMG). In practice, this meant he spent his days overseeing an archive housed in the video vault. The term “video vault” was in fact a misnomer, or a partial misnomer. About two-thirds of the building was used to store videotapes and film reels, a library controlled by Universal Studios’s parent company, NBCUniversal. But Aronson’s domain was a separate space, a fenced-off area of 2,400 square feet in the southwest corner of the building, lined with 18-foot-high storage shelves. It was a sound-recordings library, the repository of some of the most historically significant material owned by UMG, the world’s largest record company.

Read on at nytimes.com →

Walmart service to deliver groceries inside customers' homes

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Annie D’innocenzio writes:

NEW YORK (AP) - The online delivery wars are heating up inside shoppers' homes.

Walmart is now offering to have one of its employees deliver fresh groceries and put them in your refrigerator when you're not home.

The nation's largest grocer said Friday that it will be offering the service this fall for more than one million customers in three cities: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Missouri, and Vero Beach, Florida. Later this year, the service, called InHome Delivery, will also accept returns for items purchased on Walmart.com.

Two years ago, Walmart tested a similar service in the Silicon Valley area but teamed up with delivery startup Deliv and worked with August Home, makers of smart locks and smart home accessories. That test has since been stopped.

The new service is part of Walmart's drive to expand its shopping options that include curbside pickup and online grocery delivery.

Amazon offers a similar service in certain cities, dropping off packages inside homes, garages or car trunks. But the service is not for groceries.

With Walmart's new service, customers place a grocery delivery order online and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout.

Walmart workers will use smart entry technology and a proprietary wearable camera to access the customer's home. That allows shoppers to control access into their home and give them the ability to watch the delivery remotely.

Walmart said that the workers will go through an extensive training program that would prepare them for things like how to select the freshest groceries and how best to organize the refrigerator. Walmart declined to give specifics on the technology. It said it will share the fee details ahead of the fall launch.

"Now, we can serve customers not in just the last mile, but in the last 15 feet," wrote Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce division, in a corporate blog post.

With Amazon's service, customers need to be an Amazon Prime member and they have to buy a camera and a Wi-Fi-connected lock from the Seattle-based company that starts at $250. Shoppers will then be able to select in-home delivery on the Amazon app. When the delivery person shows up, he or she will knock first and scan the package, then Amazon will make sure the delivery person is at the right home and unlock the door. No codes are needed and the indoor camera will record the in-home delivery.

Via fox5ny.com

Electronic Medical Records Fail Again, as 12 Million Patient Records at Quest Diagnostics Get Hacked

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Ethan Huff reports:

Another major data breach has once again demonstrated that the widespread adoption of digital records storage systems has made patient privacy more vulnerable than ever before.

This time it involves patients who have gotten blood tests through Quest Diagnostics, where nearly 12 million patient records were recently hacked, according to reports.

One of the nation’s largest providers of blood tests, Quest Diagnostics says that both financial and medical information may have been breached in the hack, which the company is blaming on “an issue” with one of its vendors.

A filing with securities regulators reveals that, between August 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019, someone gained unauthorized access to the computer systems of AMCA, a billing collections vendor contracted by Quest.

In the filing, Quest admitted that the affected information in AMCA’s systems includes “financial information (eg, credit card numbers and bank account information), medical information and other personal information (eg, Social Security Numbers).”

What was not affected, according to Quest, were patient lab results, which the company claims are not stored or accessed by AMCA.

As of May 31, 2019, the data of some 11.9 million Quest patients has reportedly been affected, though Quest claims that it has yet to receive “detailed or complete” information about the full extent of the damage that has been done.

“Quest Diagnostics takes this matter very seriously and is committed to the privacy and security of patients’ personal, medical and financial information,” reads more of the Quest filing with securities regulators.

For more related news about how data stored digitally is constantly at risk of being hacked, be sure to check out CyberAttack.news.

The federal government has been “hacking” patient data for years

In response, a firm working with AMCA to investigate this “data incident” announced that after it conducted an “internal review,” it “took down our web payments page.”

“We hired a third-party external forensics firm to investigate any potential security breach in our systems, migrated our web payments portal services to a third-party vendor, and retained additional experts to advise on, and implement, steps to increase our systems’ security,” a statement from this firm added.

“We have also advised law enforcement of this incident. We remain committed to our system’s security, data privacy, and the protection of personal information.”

This situation with Quest Diagnostics and AMCA is just one example among many as to why storing patients’ medical records, financial data, and other personal information electronically is generally a bad idea – and something we have been warning against for years.

Back in 2016, for instance, we reported about how the push towards Electronic Health Records (EHR) would create a backdoor for government agencies to pry into the personal and private health data of Americans.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) openly announced at the time that part of its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 involved the “collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research.”

In other words, by converting patients’ medical records from paper to computer, Big Brother has successfully gained much easier access to what used to be private medical information – and hackers are apparently gaining access to it as well.

“The dark side of the data age rears its ugly head once again,” wrote one commenter at NBCNewYork.com. “Because companies insist on mandatory drug tests and Quest is a major vendor of these drug tests … who will be compensating those of us who have been compromised?”

“This is ridiculous. Quest should be shut down for such a brazen act of stupidity and negligence. Quest is trying deflect responsibility away from itself to blame its vendor. How narcissistic and stupid is that? Quest is responsible for this.”

Via informationtechnology.news