Dealing with photos on Facebook

Photos these days are not as simple as they used to be. Back in the days, when you used to take photos you just developed them and putted them in a photo album to show your friends. The good thing about those times is that you actually were the one deciding who you wanted to show your photos to. Nowadays, it’s not that easy to decide who you want to see your photos. When you share photos on Facebook without the right privacy settings, anyone can see your photos. Therefore, it is important to do your homework before posting images on Facebook.

When you join Facebook you will be able to control your privacy settings by a certain amount. It is important to take that time and really understand the settings, because it’s not always that easy to understand how it actually works. The automatic settings for privacy on Facebook is that your data is open to the public. That means that the pictures you share with your friends can also be seen by people who aren’t even your friends. However, Facebook does actually give you the tools to control this issue, it’s just a matter of using them correctly.

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Here are some useful tips when dealing with photos on Facebook.

1.
This is one of the most simple ways to control who sees what when you’re posting single photos. When you’re about to post a photo. Make sure you use the option ”friends only” before hitting the post button. If you don’t select that option. The photo will be open to the public.

2.
When you’re about to post more stuff and don’t wanna have to think about changing the settings all the time, there is a great tool for this which makes it easy to control your privacy settings. This tool is called ”p
rivacy shortcuts”. When you click this button you’ll see a tab called ”who can see my stuff”. This tab give you a quick overview of your privacy settings and you only have to change it one time to save the settings.

3.
If you want to dig even deeper into your privacy settings you can click the ”settings button”. This is a more advanced privacy page with more options. A really useful option within this page which I want to highlight is the option to review all the photos you’re tagged in. This means that every time someone tags you in something, you have to make an active choice whether you want to be tagged in that photo or not. This is really useful when someone for example posts an embarrassing photo of you and you don’t want the rest of your friends to see it.

4.
Report harmful photos. If you managed to untag that embarrassing photo but still want it to disappear from Facebook, you’ll have to report it. This option isn’t always working but unfortunately there is no other way to get rid of photos posted by someone else. The photo will only be removed if Facebook classes it as harassment or if it goes against their terms of service. However, the person who posted the photo in the first place will get a message when you report the photo that you’d like him to remove it. So if you’re lucky, it might disappear anyway.

 

As you can see, Facebook does supply their users with settings to control the privacy of your photos. It’s just a matter of using them right. After reading this, I hope you’ll think twice before posting your next facebook photo and that this text will be of help whenever you want to be a little more private on Facebook.

References

http://www.pcworld.com/article/255552/use_the_facebook_privacy_controls_you_have.html

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/facebook-photo-privacy-settings-need-know/

Copyright: “Steal like an Artist”

“Nothing is original”, said Austin Kleon, during his speech for Tedx Talks.
(Checkout: https://youtu.be/oww7oB9rjgw)

Sadly, the lack of originality around the world has been carried into the world of the Internet, where people live and breathe “creative” content everyday.

Indeed, with the rise of social media and the advancement in web technologies today, the world seems to be running low on novel ideas. It is no surprise to find works/content that are visually similar by coincidence or not.

Instagram pictures look similar.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.07.44 pm
(Screenshot, cropped: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2513205/How-Instagram-reveals-NOT-creative-Video-shows-users-photos-exactly-arty-ways.html)

Also, check out this compilation of Instagram pictures by Thomas Jullien.

Web designs look almost the same.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.44.51 pm

(Screenshot,cropped: http://blog.raincastle.com/bid/105839/5-Reasons-Why-Most-Websites-Look-the-Same-Today)

Songs sound the same too (?!)

(Check out: Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and compare it to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”)

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.52.17 pm

(Screenshot,cropped: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/sam-smith–tom-petty-settlement-20150126)

With just a search on google, and a scroll through pinterest, instagram, and tumblr, we’ve virtually exposed ourselves to works from all over the world that can so easily be reused by anybody. To aggravate things, social media platforms such as twitter encourages people to conveniently reuse other user’s content with its ‘re-tweet’ function.

No wonder people today take things off the net and use them however they want without hesitation!

Still, the world seeks to continue generating creative-looking content everyday for many reasons. So, how can we remain “creative” in a world that has reached its saturation point in creativity?

We steal ideas, and reinvent them.

“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas” – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs confesses that stealing ideas and making it his own was the key contributor to the birth of ‘Apple’s DNA’ and hence, its success. Famous artist Pablo Picasso, English singer-songwriter David Bowie, and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky all agree.

Stealing Ideas for your website

Creating a website and designing it from scratch is not easy. Not only do you need to consider effective UX, you also need the expertise in coding. Thus, it is not uncommon that the average website creator feeds off various websites to get ideas of what he/she wants on their web page and to figure out the coding elements to it.

When it comes to web design, defining what counts as infringement can get slightly tricky. Basic features such as scroll bars, contact forms, shopping carts, and navigation bars are not protected by copyright because they are considered to be “functional elements”. It is for the same reason that Facebook did not win its lawsuit against StudiVZ, a social networking platform for students in German-speaking countries — Facebook’s sites’s elements were ‘too standardized’.

However, to protect web designers and their works, there are some features on a web design that are protected by copyright.

1) Contents.

Pictures, graphics, texts, that a web designer used on his/her webpage are protected by copyright. When gaining inspiration, you should use your own graphic content.

2) HTML/CSS Codes.

This is because they are considered as literary works by the author (web designer). Even if you change the ID and class names to make it look like your own work, it is still violation of copyright. Seek permission from the web designer if you really like a certain element or use templates. (Checkout: http://themeforest.net/)

You might wonder, what’s left for you to “steal”? Steal the idea, not the actual work. This means that you have to identify what strikes you in a design and take that experience and inspiration away with you, then create it in your own way.

Pablo Picasso “Good Artists copy, Great Artists steal.”

References:

Kleon, Austin.  Steal Like an Artist. April 24, 2012.
Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oww7oB9rjgw

Kyrnin, Jennifer. Are Web designs and HTML copyrighted. Accessed on April 5.
Retrieved from: http://webdesign.about.com/od/copyright/f/html_copyright.htm

Dramburg, Sebastian. Copying Websites–How far can you legally go?. July 17, 2013.
Retrieved from: http://venturevillage.eu/copying-websites

Turnbull, Connor. Be Inspired, but Don’t Copy. June 30, 2011.
Retrieved from: http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/be-inspired-but-dont-copy–webdesign-3216

Problem with Copyright

What does copyright mean? It is the legal device that allows the “creator of a literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work the sole right to publish and sell the artwork”. This means that the person who created the product has the full right to choose what to do with it and can sue you if s/he ever finds out that you have used their work without permission.

In a world where everything can be put up and shared online, this law has extended to photos, songs, movies, and other works that are published on the internet. Yes, there are fines in place for those who violate these laws. But these violations happen regularly everyday. It is not that easy to keep track of who is copying whose work unless the creator himself brings it up to the authorities. Besides, unless you are the owner of Disney or Century Fox suing the person who stole your work, there is not much you will get from accusing someone of copyright infringement. The fine you get is based on how much you will gain from publishing your work. So, is it really worth it to fight over a stock photo someone took from you online?

Another issue there is to copyright law is our understanding of it. How clear are we on the different terms and licenses? Do we really know what to use and when to accuse someone of violating the rights? When you put up any files on the internet, it has become public domain. For example, if your work is licensed under Creative Commons, you need to understand that other users of the internet can use your work but must credit you for it. It is not considered as a violation of copyright laws for them to use your work. Here is some a simple guide to the terms.

cc-licenses-terms

The thing about copyright for videos is this idea of immediately it down if the real creator feels that his work has been copied. They are always shutting down videos before informing the uploader of the violation that they committed. This can bring about confusion especially when the uploader has done nothing wrong. An example is SOPA where the US had wanted to combat online copyright infringement. However, there were protests stating that it was a violation of free speech. Due to all the disagreements, they will postpone consideration of the legislation until they found a better solution.

Copyright laws do help in ensuring some sense of security for creators of online works but I feel there are still loopholes. The main reason behind copyright laws even existing is that creators are afraid of their works getting stolen and losing money. So instead of disallowing other users totally, finding an alternative that is cheaper and easier may be the solution. For example, iTunes and Spotify are not alternatives to record stores where users pay a lower price and artists still gain a lot of money. So, it is not about changing the whole copyright law. It is about giving the users a choice,  an alternative that is both a win-win for the creators and the users.

 

References:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/copyright

Vaughan, Pamela. June 10, 2013. Copyright Law on the Internet is a Total Train Wreck Right Now. Retrived from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/internet-copyright-law-failure

Wagner, Kyle. March 21, 2013. Everything wrong with Digital Copyright. Retrieved from: http://gizmodo.com/5989166/everything-wrong-with-digital-copyright

Villasenor, John. July 13, 2013. How to Reduce Copyright Lawsuits and Make the Internet a Better Place to Share Content. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnvillasenor/2013/07/13/how-to-reduce-copyright-lawsuits-and-make-the-internet-a-better-place-to-share-content/

http://commonsmachinery.se/2014/05/easy-guide-to-creative-commons-licenses/

Cloud Data Privacy

With sophisticated hacking technologies only getting cleverer everyday, it seems that the only way to truly keep your data completely safe is to either never go online, or write everything down – neither of which seems possible. As we surround ourselves with more and more devices – an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Macbook Air and ASUS laptop for me – the need to access data across these devices grows larger. I used to even send myself multiple emails, manually attaching all the files I needed on another device. And there comes the solution to our problem: Cloud services. But is this service really safe?

Is your data truly private? Do private policies necessarily mean that you have privacy? Here are some essential questions to ask:

  • Privacy – is your data and/or metadata just purely stored or is it being sold for advertising and marketing purposes?
    Giant service providers such as Google and Facebook are known culprits of selling user data and/or metadata to third-party marketing and advertising companies for targeted advertisements. Cloud Service Providers are also law-bound to comply as and when data is demanded from them by governments, hence it is not uncommon for CSPs to move their physical offices where governments have less jurisdiction.
  • Reliability and Continuity – are you certain that the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) you’re using will always be available? What guarantees do you have regarding the safety of your data?
    Clouds are not foolproof solutions. Any accidental deletion by the CSP, or natural disasters such as a fire or earthquake, could result in the permanent loss of data unless the provider took adequate measures to backup data. Furthermore, the burden of avoiding data loss does not fall solely on the provider’s shoulders. If you encrypt data before uploading it to the cloud, but lose the encryption key, the data will be lost as well.
  • Security – is your data encrypted? Who has access to the encryption keys? Could your data be hacked or stolen?

    According to a 2012 paper by the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin and RSA Corporation, a virtual machine may use side channel timing information to extract private cryptographic keys being used in other virtual machines on the same physical server. This is synonymous with timing attacks, which capitalize on the response time for machines to handle tasks and queries to determine the measurements for each operation, and work backwards on this to discover the initial input information. However, this may not even be necessary. More insidiously, a hacker could make use of an ill-designed multi-tenant Cloud database to access every tenants’ data after gaining entry to just one.
  • Copyright – who owns the content that you upload into the Cloud? Can your photos be sold or published without your consent?
    This depends on the licensing agreement between the CSP and the user. Dropbox makes no claim to owning its user’s content, its agreement says: ‘By using our Services you provide us with information, files, and folders that you submit to Dropbox (together, “your stuff”). You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services.’

    On the other hand, Google, who owns the public cloud services YouTube and Gmail, states that ‘some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours. When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works’.

Conclusion

Cloud services and CSPs are not inherently bad or malicious, but with every new technology created to bring greater convenience, there will be hackers who endeavor in finding vulnerabilities in these services and exploit them for self-serving purposes. It is up to you to sufficiently equip yourself with the proper knowledge and understanding of each CSP’s policies in order to prevent undesired consequences.

Tech experts recommend switching to a Linux computer and running the standard LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) programs, and setting up your private server. Otherwise, CSP SpiderOak which claims to be a zero-knowledge data back-up server, may be useful to your needs as well.

References:

Bothwick, Neil. (2013, August 3). Data Privacy: How Safe is Your Data in the Cloud? Retrieved 27 March, 2015, from http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/data-privacy-how-safe-is-your-data-in-the-cloud–1170332

Cloud Security Alliance. (2013, February). The Notorious Nine Cloud Computing Threats in 2013. Retrieved 27 March, 2015, from https://downloads.cloudsecurityalliance.org/initiatives/top_threats/The_Notorious_Nine_Cloud_Computing_Top_Threats_in_2013.pdf

Hale, Coda. (2009, 13 August). A Lesson in Timing Attacks. Retrieved 27 March, 2015, from http://codahale.com/a-lesson-in-timing-attacks/

Hansen, Grant. (n.d.). Issues in the Cloud. Retrieved 27 March 2015, from http://www.holmanwebb.com.au/publications/issues-in-the-cloud

Honan, Mat. (2012, 15 November). Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Cannot Protect Us Anymore. Retrieved 27 March 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2012/11/ff-mat-honan-password-hacker/

Howell, Donna. (2013, 16 January). Cloud Computing Users are Losing Data, Symantec Finds. Retrieved 27 March 2014, from http://news.investors.com/technology/011613-640851-cloud-computing-data-loss-high-in-symantec-study.htm

Kalyani, M. (2013, 18 June). Social Media and Privacy. Retrieved 27 March, 2013, from https://spideroak.com/privacypost/online-privacy/social-media-and-user-privacy/

Copyright or Copywrong?

Are the days of torrenting music, movies and TV shows scot-free coming to an end? New laws have been creeping in in Canada this year, and Singapore has had new laws established since late last year. But what do these laws consist of? And more importantly, what do they mean for us, as users?

Canada and Singapore are in agreeance for one thing: downloading copyrighted material is illegal and something should be done. Under the Copyright Act that each country has, laws are being implemented in hopes that people stray away from illegal downloads, such as torrenting. In a day and age where this is the normal thing to do, and everyone does it, how do you get people to stop downloading such accessible material?

Canada takes a scare approach, requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to distribute letters from copyright holders to customers whose IP addresses are alleged to have pirated copyrighted material. These letters, sent via email, indicate the copyrighted material, the IP address that was used and the time in infringement occurred. These letters have been sent for almost the last 10 years, but it is only in 2015 that this is now formally part of the law. This law states that if the ISP does not want to be held liable for their customers actions, they must pass on the notification.

One ISP has reported that these letters have already started working. Only 5% receive notices, 68% of those receive only one, 89% of alleged pirates receive two, and 1 in 800,000 get numerous letters. After getting a notification, most people will stop all the downloading completely, or at least find a less traceable way to pirate materials illegally.

The ISP is required to keep a record of the notice associated with the subscriber for six months to a year in the event that this case somehow goes to court. Personal information is kept safe by the ISP, and most importantly, out of the hands of copyright holders. This makes it far too expensive for the copyright holder to go after a single person for a mere $5,000. As long as the personal information is not freely handed over to the copyright holders, it is very costly for them to gain access to this information, and even more to start the lawsuit. So there is nothing to worry about…yet.

Singapore’s approach is to take the material away. The Copyright Act specifically targets the sharing sites such as, The Pirate Bay. The government has contemplated even blocking the site completely, making it (almost) impossible for pirating material at all. 60% of Singaporeans aged 16-64 have admitted to downloaded pirated content online, and even when the government takes the websites down, they are competing in an uphill battle. The sharing websites are constantly changing their IP addresses, making blocking extremely difficult as it would require constant monitoring. Going straight for the domain name seems to be the way to go if the government follows through.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way perfectly portrays how many feel in regards to piracy. In fact, I just did a little test. I tried to access The Pirate Bay in my Firefox browser, and a “Secure Connection Failed” error message appears. I then switched to Google Chrome, where I set my VPN to Canada. The site loads up no problem. Looks like the government may have already attempted to block this out, but in only a few clicks, I have regained complete access.

In summary, it seems as though Singapore’s tactic of taking the websites away is a little too easy to get around, and with little to no consequences. On the other hand, the Canadian stereotype holds ― when asked politely to stop infringing copyright, they follow through.

CTVNews,. (2015). Illegal downloaders beware, you may get a shock in 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/illegal-downloaders-beware-you-may-get-a-shock-in-2015-1.2169729

Cuellar, J., & Cuellar, J. (2014). Are Your Torrenting Days Really Over? An Update on Singapore’s Newest Law. MoneySmart.sg. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://blog.moneysmart.sg/lifestyle/are-your-torrenting-days-really-over-an-update-on-singapores-newest-law/

Straitstimes.com,. (2015). Goodbye, illegal downloads?. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/goodbye-illegal-downloads-20140711

The Huffington Post,. (2015). Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About Canada’s ‘New’ Downloading Law. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/08/michael-geist-copyright-modernization-act_n_6436584.html

VICE,. (2015). We’re at a Turning Point in Canada for Illegal Downloading | VICE | Canada. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/were-at-a-turning-point-in-canada-for-illegal-downloading-328

Should Softwares be Protected under the Copyright Infringement Law?

In May 2014, the US Federal Court overturned the 2012 ruling that Oracle was not entitled to Copyright Protection in a lawsuit against Google as the latter is accused of infringing on the copyright of Java, a collection of programming technologies owned by Oracle. Google’s Lawyers argued that such technologies don’t deserve the same kind of Protection given to other creative works such as novels and artworks. This definitely raises some questions as to where the line is when it comes to the protection given to programmers, and whether or not a software is considered a “creative work”.

 

Copyright Laws aim to protect intellectual properties, applicable to any representation of creative work. So are we to assume that when an individual comes up with an idea, he is entitled to the rights to that, or is it only when it is considered a “creative work”?  It is not hard to see that there are definitely gray areas when it comes to copyright. Especially since laws do not necessarily cover copyright for Softwares. Hence we cannot blame Google for raising this as their defence, since the law itself does not clearly state where the line is drawn. Google’s intentions aside, the ambiguity of the written law can provide loopholes and can give them an acceptable defence in the court of law, proven by the 2012 ruling.

 

However, one of the main aims of establishing copyright laws in the first place is to encourage people to create and give them an incentive to share their creations with the world. Hence, it is appropriate to give softwares the necessary protection it deserves since programmers might be deterred by their fear that another person or individual might steal their creation. Also, a software can easily be considered a “creative work” as it is inspired by ideas and a spark of imagination, therefore would not have been possible without the existence of creativity. Also, it can be argued that Google’s Lawyers’ argument is invalid hence making the 2012 ruling invalid as Copyright protects intellectual properties and the main idea behind a creation. Thus, it is safe to say that Oracle deserves to win the case and the ruling should be applicable any following cases involving the infringement of Copyright.

 

In a local context, the Copyright Infringement Law was amended in 2005 to include any willful infringement of Copyright for commercial gain, hence if the Google vs. Oracle case was adapted to a Singapore context, Oracle would have won in the first place. This is of course useful for potential programmers, giving them more incentive to work hard and create something that would benefit a lot of other people. This indeed proves that creativity and hard work is valued in this case. However, this does not mean that the law in Singapore is clear-cut. This is because “willful infringement” hinges on the proof of intention, the plaintiff, be it an individual or the company has the burden of proof, and how does one prove someone’s intention to steal or infringe. Moreover, even when the defendant gains monetarily from the “stolen” software, it is difficult to prove that they intended to do so in the first place. Therefore, this once again shows that there are loopholes even with the amended law.

 

In conclusion, Softwares should definitely be protected by infringement laws, and it should be stated as clearly as possible, making sure that there are no possible ways to get around it. This will then incentivise programmers to continue thinking and creating softwares that will eventually benefit most of us. Moreover, laws that protect softwares will also ensure that their efforts are not taken for granted and their intellectual properties are secured.

Kendall,Brent., Ovide,Shira., 2014, “Oracle Wins Ruling in Case Against Google Over Jave” (Retrieved from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/court-says-oracle-software-code-entitled-to-copyright-protection-1399652818)

 

2006, “Singapore Company Found Guilty for Unlicensed Software Use”

(Retrieved from: http://www.hardwarezone.com/news/view.php?id=4413)

Bitcoin and Privacy: A Brief analysis

By: Sravanthi D

In recent years a variety of alternative web based payment methods have emerged. You might be familiar with Paypal and Google Checkout, and recently a service by the name of Bitcoin has been increasingly gaining traction. However, all these sources of electronic payments are dominated in fiat currencies (e.g., dollars), and that is where Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer payment network, differs (Meiklejohn).

So what exactly is Bitcoin? It is a digital crypto-currency which offers a new and innovative way to complete transactions. Popularized by its ability to anonymize transactions, Bitcoin presents a fascinating opportunity to change and upload the practices of core institutions behind the modern market economy. Governments and regulators have expressed a particular interest and concern over Bitcoins’s ability to mask wrongful behavior due to its privacy measures- which stand as one of their pillar principles. Motivated by Bitcoin’s close relation to privacy, I hope to touch on the architecture and operation of Bitcoin and its privacy measures.

So the basics- the gaining popularity of this service allows users the capability to purchase goods such as hotel stays, food, and smart phones on a variety of company websites such as Overstock and eBay. Users can also exchange Bitcoins amongst each other and this imitated the transaction model similar to PayPal or Visa. Transactions are then e-validated by a network of users also called miners who verify exchanges in return for newly mined Bitcoins. Users also have the ability to convert Bitcoins in to legal tender. Because there is a fixed supply of 21 million Bitcoins and no monetary authority, the rate of supply is volatile and inherently deflationary. Unlike earlier digital currencies, Bitcoin’s network is completely decentralized meaning that the users of the system can interact directly. The identity of the user is encrypted and there is no exchange of personal information. It is for this reason that transactions are considered pseudonymous as opposed to completely anonymous (Vico and Arago). However, there is a transaction record including the Bitcoin user’s encrypted identity on the public ledger system, also referred to as the block chain, which uses cryptography to confirm transactions (Koshey et Al.). As of 2014, there are more than 12.85 million Bitcoins circulating with a market value of more than $8.3 billion (Wan and Hoblitzell).

The concept of privacy is particularly important against the objectification by governments, corporations, and other individuals. The control of information about oneself within the Bitcoin ecosystem has been regarded and referred to as “user defined privacy” which is one the fundamental factors in the popularity of Bitcoin (“Beyond Silk Road”). Bitcoin is transparent in nature as anyone can see the global history of transactions and discover the allocation and destination of the digital currency. Moreover, Bitcoins transparency is extended towards the communication of their privacy policies. Closely fitting the Fair Information policies guidelines for informed consent and openness, Bitcoin outlines the purpose, use, and result of the information collected. BitCoin recognizes the constraints of the technology being used and thus ensures that users are informed of what precautions to take when using the service. Due to the unique structure of Bitcoin, it is not done in the traditional sense where the contact information of the “privacy officer” is available. Instead, the Peer to peer service links its user to communities where everyone can address concerns. Bitcoin goes beyond expectations and provides users all the tools to take privacy into their own hands as well as link them to websites where one can access the publicly available information of all transactions. The algorithmically generated Bitcoin ‘addresses’ result in a pseudonymous transaction arguably maintaining an anonymous presence (bitcoin.com).

There are several measures such as the implementation of mixing services to significantly enhance anonymity and privacy. Mixing services scrambles a user’s bitcoins with the bitcoins of others with the intention of confusing the trail back to the fund’s original source (Matonis). Bitcoin Fog and BitLaundry are two examples of mixing services that provide a high degree of anonymity. In addition to this, Bitcoin uses strong cryptographic systems which generate private keys- a randomly generated number corresponding to funds on the public ledger and signatures- a mathematically generated hash proving a signing operation took place. Furthermore, complex mathematical computations such as hashes contributes to the successful mining of coins, and the use of SHA -256 (a robust hash algorithm), is used to reduce error rates and improve data security (Vico and Arago). Lastly, when it comes to addressing government regulations and policies, though lacking in detail Bitcoin directs users to external sources regarding information on basic rights, taxation, regulations, and recent news. Though privacy wise Bitcoin excels, the ambiguity of transactions becomes a hub which fosters incredible amount of grey area. Consequently this is a reflection of the increasing amount of illegal activities flourishing through this online community such as tax evasion, money laundering, and fraud.

References

Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Cong., 103 (2013) (testimony of Thomas R. Carper). Print.

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Bitcoin. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Koshey, Phillip, Diana Koshy, and Patrick McDaniel. An Analysis of Anonymity in Bitcoin Using P2P Network Traffic. N.p., Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

Meiklejohn, Sarah, Marjori Pomarole, Grant Jordan, Kirill Levchenko, Damon McCoy, Geoffrey M. Voelker, and Stefan Savage. A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with. Publication. 6th ed. Vol. 38. California: n.p., 2013. Print.

Vico, Jesus Diaz, and Antonio Sanchez Arago. Bitcoin: A Cryptographic Currency. Rep. N.p.: Inteco, n.d. Print.

Wan, Tiffany, and Max Hoblitzell. Bitcoin: Fact, Fiction, Future. Rep. Texas: Deloitte UP, 2014. Print.