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TruBlo Newsletter #14: Policies and actions needed to fight ransomware • Documentary: Degrees of uncertainty • EU vs. Apple over App Store fees • Blockchain land registry in Rwanda

TruBlo Newsletter #14: Policies and actions needed to fight ransomware • Documentary: Degrees of uncertainty • EU vs. Apple over App Store fees • Blockchain land registry in Rwanda

TruBlo Project Update

We are getting closer to NGI Forum 2021 on May 18-19, 2021. Please join us for presentations and discussions. Register NGI Forum 2021


Updates this week:

TRUST


Don’t ignore ransomware

The way this happens: Attackers hack the IT system of a company, a police force or a even hospital. Then the only way to regain access to the system is by paying huge amounts of money.

Despite being a thread for some time, the situation around ransomware has not improved. There is a lack of policies and actions for the active prevention of this threat.

From an interview in The New York Times:

What is the United States doing to stop or slow ransomware? We’re not trying very hard. The United States is the most targeted country by cybercriminals and nation-states, but we’re not acting like it. We’re mostly outlining guidelines for companies and government agencies to prevent ransomware attacks and hoping for the best. It’s not working.

LINK($)

Related: How the US United States Lost to Hackers LINK ($)


Newsmax, a conservative news channel, posts an apology

The news outlet had accused an employee of Dominion Voting Systems of manipulating results in the 2020 US presidential election. The person received a wave of insulting messages, including death threats. Now the news outlet published an apology.

LINK


Degrees of Uncertainty: Documentary

How sure are scientists about global warming? Why are they coming to current conclusions and predictions?

“Degrees of uncertainty” is a data-driven documentary by Neil Halloran. The video educates about certainty and uncertainty occurring around complex issues.

LINK


CONTENT


EU vs. Apple: App store sales fee results in antitrust

The key point is that a competing music service like Spotify has no alternative as to paying a fee of 30% on all transactions, if it wants to offer a music subscription using devices by Apple, such as iPhones, iPads or computers.

From The Guardian:

“By setting strict rules on the App store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” Margrethe Vestager said. “This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App Store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options.”

This is the first step of an EU antitrust investigation. It is likely to take years until this issue will go through the courts.

LINK


Microsoft planning to reduce fees to 12 per cent

Confidential documents submitted in the ongoing Apple vs. Epic Games case reveal that Microsoft has been planning to cut Microsoft Store on Xbox fees to just 12 per cent.

Microsoft reducing the Microsoft Store on Xbox cut for games to just 12 per cent could be a big deal as this would mean that game developers would get 88 per cent of the revenue share. All other major stores take a 30 per cent cut on game sales, including Sony’s PlayStation Store and Nintendo’s online store.

LINK


Clubhouse popular in the Middle East

The social networking app is booming in authoritarian countries, where users are speaking freely about otherwise taboo topics.

LINK($)


NewsBreak app successful with local news

Protocol reports about NewsBreak, a popular news aggregation app that uses Artificial Intelligence to find and display local news for users:

News Break has succeeded using tactics imported from China, where news delivered via algorithm — a practice pioneered by ByteDance’s Toutiao — has flourished.

An “interest-based engine” powered by AI selects articles readers are likely to enjoy based on past engagement.

Content aggregators like News Break aren’t just winning in the U.S. market. Opera News, owned by Beijing Kunlun Tech, and Scooper News, developed by Shenzhen-based Transsion Holdings, have both made significant inroads into Africa and Europe.

LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Medici Land Governance partners with Rwanda

Medici Land Governance(MLG) has partnered with the Government of Rwanda to pilot a project that aims to make land transfers a paperless process. For the pilot, MLG has built a land transaction platform on blockchain called Ubutaka, which will be integrated with Rwanda’s existing land registry infrastructure.

Inefficient and inaccurate land registry systems are a common challenge in many developing countries. The loss of paperwork often prevents landowners from proving ownership, making people hesitant to invest in developing properties. Additionally, the lack of standardization and auditing in land management leaves the door open to corruption and fraud.

MLG already has projects in Mexico and Liberia.

LINK


Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway is highly critical of Bitcoin

“I don’t welcome a currency that’s so useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth, nor do I like shuffling out a few extra billions and billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air.”

LINK


Blockchain technology simplifying cross-border payments

From the World Economic Forum:

It’s no secret that the cross-border payments landscape using traditional rails is fraught with fees, hurdles and delay.

Individual senders incur outsized fees for the billions of dollars sent in personal remittances every year.

Part of the problem is that systems are not interoperable. To send money to different corners of the world without blockchain, a whole patchwork has been haphazardly knitted together over the decades to achieve some semblance of financial interoperability between financial institutions, correspondent banks and money transfer operators along the value chain.

LINK


Thank You for reading.

Please forward this newsletter if you think it has value for a colleague or friend.

Do you have feedback or suggestions? Contact us



This was issue #14 of TruBlo NEWSLETTER • Trustable content on future blockchains.
Subscribe to the newsletter here.

TruBlo is an EU funded research project. Contact: info@trublo.eu

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

To fight misinformation,  the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) wants to develop technical standards

To fight misinformation, the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) wants to develop technical standards

In February 2021 the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) combined and consolidated the efforts of two projects with similar goals. On one side “Project Origin”, founded in 2020 by Microsoft, BBC, The New York Times and CBC/Radio-Canada.
On the other side a group by the name of “Content Authenticity Initiative”, founded by Adobe. In the new, larger group more members are represented, including the chip-makers Arm and Intel. TruePic, a startup with interesting technology in this space is a member, too.
What all the participants have in common is this: To develop standards and tools for reliable content provenance. This would include certifying the source, the origin and the history of content elements. But, it is not an attempt to re-create DRM (Digital Rights Management).

Today falsifying content is easy

So far, content that is accessible on the internet can be intentionally falsified, easily.

  • Tricking search engines: From false claims to falsified sources to sloppy or falsified metadata. For example a low level, but common approach to content fraud is to simply change the publishing date. Search engines are good at finding content, but all search platforms are challenged by falsified data and information.
  • No restrictions in Content Management Systems: For the sake of convenience, almost all currently used Content Management Systems do not impose strict guidelines nor checks for copyrights or whether the publishing data is correct.

In earlier communication the group behind Project Origin stated the goal: “Having a provable source of origin for media, and knowing that the content had not tampered with en-route, will help to maintain confidence in news from trusted providers”.

Technical demonstrators so far

How do they want to get there? So far the concepts are demonstrators or software in beta. Technically, the idea is to define an “end-to-end process for the publishing, distribution and presentation of provenance enhanced media”. Provenance is of course the key here. It means that added information should enable to trace down where the content came from and whether what is presented is actually the version that was published at the origin. Provenance information will be added no only to text-based media but also to audio, video and images.

In September 2020 the project origin published a short video, which narrated the motivation as well as the early proof-of-concept models. Key goals are to confirm the identity of the publisher and to ensure that the content has not been tampered with. This applies to the visible editorial parts, but also to metadata which might not be directly visible, but is used for example by search engines to rank the content. It is common for misinformation to change dates, for example, to make old content look “new” again.

Two videos, one from Project Origin, the other from the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative show the intentions and goals.

Project Origin (2020)

Source: BBC

Content Authenticity Initiative: Vision

Searching for a standard

As of spring 2021, there is a common goal and specific roles for the different partners.  “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) aims to advocate and find support for an open standard. At the same time the different technology companies work on their individual solutions:

  • Adobe is working on an attribution tool, which could be added to Photoshop and other Adobe packages.
  • TruePic, a start-up from San Diego in the US, could have the most innovative. The company has developed software specifically to enhance and enrich content enabling checks of its integrity.
  • Microsoft describes the current approaches on a dedicated innovation website.
  • It is notable that Google is missing from the members, so far. The same is true for Apple and Facebook.
    It might be that if all the big tech and content companies would join finding a compromise would become almost impossible. Instead, that is the assumption, the smaller, current group firstly wants to develop early suggestions and ideas.

Demos from Microsoft

Microsoft specifically has the most details yet how Project Origin could work. The company discusses current ideas on a webpage of the innovation department. They christened the technical approach AMP (Authentication of Media via Provenance).

Search for standard might take years

  • Agreeing on standards, specifically, might take years. While misinformation and content used for propaganda in many parts of the world are pressing problems. Finding common ground will depend on many details – and take time, specifically when there is a need for an agreed-upon technical standard, which is accepted worldwide.
  • One thing that is notable: All three projects and the entire coalition do not commit to a specific blockchain technology to store the information. It appears that the question is currently avoided – there might or might not blockchain tech in the backend.
  • Another problem is to find a technology that gets accepted by users and does not make media production more complicated. Adding metadata is a notoriously skipped activity in many fields of content production.

More info:

Microsoft Innovation: Exploring Project Origin
https://innovation.microsoft.com/en-us/exploring-project-origin

Microsoft Innovation: Technical explanation and demo
Deep Dive: Technical explanation of Project AMP’s components including a demo based on the paper
AMP: Authentication of Media via Provenance.

Adobe brings its misinformation-fighting content attribution tool to the Photoshop beta
https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/20/adobe-cai-photoshop-beta-misinformation/

Newsletter #11: TruBlo project update • Carrots, not sticks to quell misinformation and more…

Newsletter #11: TruBlo project update • Carrots, not sticks to quell misinformation and more…

TruBlo Project Update

Next steps for Trublo open call #1: If you participated, when will you get results? We published an article on the TruBlo website, to provide an overview of the process. The quick answer to the key question: Participants can expect a notification on April 30, 2021. More details: [TruBlo Website](https://www.trublo.eu/2021/04/09/trublo-open-call-1-next-steps-and-selection-process-overview/)

Updates this week:


TRUST


Trust in tech declining, survey finds

 ”Trust in tech — including companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the internet of things — fell all around the world last year, the Edelman Trust Barometer found in a massive survey of 31,000 people in 27 countries.”
[LINK


Procter & Gamble accused of collaboration with Chinese advertising

Apple aims to change how data can be collected for advertising purposes, specifically how profiles of users can be created. Many advertisers and other platforms are opposing the change. One unexpected result: The US company Procter & Gamble teaming up trade groups in China.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal:

”Procter & Gamble Co. helped develop a technique being tested in China to gather iPhone data for targeted ads, a step intended to give companies a way around Apple Inc.’s new privacy tools, according to people familiar with the matter. […]
The company has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique, which would use a technology called device fingerprinting.” LINK


Blockchain for trustable food system – from seafood to grain

The Conversation: “With global-scale food systems such as seafood, nearly 40 per cent of which is traded globally, data transparency and traceability through technologies like blockchain are important for socially and environmentally conscious decision making and to facilitate trust among stakeholders. Blockchain technologies can be used to consolidate information on the quality of the seed, track how crops grow and record the journey once it leaves the farm.” LINK


Content


New motivation: ”To quell misinformation, use carrots – not just sticks”

An article by neuroscientist Tali Sharot published in “Nature” argues for a fundamental change in how users should be rewarded when posting content.

Quote: “Most readers have felt an ego boost when their post received ‘likes’. Such engagement also results in followers, which can help people secure lucrative deals. Thus, if a certain type of content generates high engagement, people will post more content like it. Here is the conundrum: fake news generates more retweets and likes than do reliable posts, spreading 6–20 times faster.”

What could be a solution?

”At the moment, users are rewarded when their post appeals to the masses — even if it’s of poor quality. What would happen if users were rewarded for reliability and accuracy?” LINK


Facebook criticised for being unresponsive to reports of manipulative content, investigation reveals

The Guardian published findings of an investigation of how the social platform handled manipulative content, specifically outside of the US. A former employee says that Facebook was often inactive, even when warned about such manipulative content.

“There is a lot of harm being done on Facebook that is not being responded to because it is not considered enough of a PR risk to Facebook,” said Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook who worked within the company’s “integrity” organization to combat inauthentic behaviour. “The cost isn’t borne by Facebook. It’s borne by the broader world as a whole.” LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Revenge of the Winklevii

Forbes reports at length about how Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are emerging as investors in several blockchain and crypto projects.

A dozen years after they settled with Zuckerberg for $65 million in Facebook stock and cash, the Winklevii, as they are widely known, have emerged as leaders of a technological movement whose core operating principle involves digitizing the records of all assets globally, decentralizing control and cutting out gatekeepers—including Facebook.

The two are now owners of a holding company called “Gemini Space Station”, which “owns their crypto exchange and Nifty Gateway”. Forbes reports that the twins invested in 25 digital asset startups. LINK


A notable uptick of interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain initiatives

The rise of Bitcoin value is driving interest in trading of cryptocurrency trading. In parallel, we see new corporate projects for blockchain. While the two areas are not directly related, the financial market seems to validate blockchain technology, to an extend.

Selected examples:

  • Trading app Robinhood says 9.5 million users traded crypto in Q1 2021. This is an increase of 458% related to just 1,7 million traders in Q4/2020. LINK
  • The Wall Street Journal has a special how “GameStop, Blockchain.com and Bitcoin Renewed a Push to Digitize the Stock Market”. A lot of speculation mixed with enthusiasm, along with potential volatility and other risks. LINK
  • This week it’s the second virtual edition of the European Blockchain Convention, due to the pandemic. It is worth your time to scroll through the (long) list of attendees – you’ll find a mix of blockchain start-ups, representatives from larger companies and many EU officials. Just the visual scroll will give you an idea of interest in all things blockchain. LINK
  • And finally: Drivers of the new Fiat 500 electric vehicle will earn coins if they drive sustainably:

”Stellantis and UK-based startup Kiri Technologies will use blockchain rewards to encourage sustainable driving behaviour. Stellantis is the result of a recent merger between Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler and owns 16 car brands, including Peugeot, Citroen, Chrysler and Fiat. The rewards initiative will be conducted under Stellantis e-mobility program. Drivers of the New 500 Fiat, a fully electric car, will be awarded KiriCoins, which can be spent in the Kiri marketplace.”


Thank You for reading.

Please forward this newsletter if you think it has value for a colleague or friend.

Do you have feedback or suggestions? [Contact us](mailto:info@trublo.eu)


NGI Forum 2021: Building the Internet of Humans

NGI Forum 2021: Building the Internet of Humans

 

The NGI Forum 2021 is the flagship event for the initiative, and in 2021 it will happen on May 18-19. Participation is free. 

Why you should care? The NGI (Next Generation Internet) initiative is something special. NGI brings together people who want a different internet. One, where the single user has certain rights, does not have to fear data theft or worse. NGI is driven by an understanding that you can not overload a large, important system, because it will break.

What will be shown? The event will include a mix of specialists talks, open discussions and interactive workshops. Further, the NGI Forum is a showcase. Here entrepreneurs, researchers and others present their work and their approaches. The goal is to deliver technologies and services that respect European rights and values, leading to tangible benefits for both private and public organizations, as well as citizens.

Who should join? If you are an innovator, in an organisation large or small, in an established company or at a start-up or still studying – in any case it is interesting to join and interact with the NGI community.

How to attend? The 2021 NGI Forum will be an online event. Be part of it, save the date and join here:

Will TruBlo be present? Yes, TruBlo will co-organize a workshop. The details of when it happens will be published on this website and through the TruBlo newsletter.

More info: https://2021.ngiforum.eu

Join the NGI community. The NGI Community is a knowledge-sharing platform, to connect informally with fellow innovators, entrepreneurs and professionals. Join here, it’s free.

Newsletter #10: Digital signatures • Banning dark patterns • BitClout controversy

Newsletter #10: Digital signatures • Banning dark patterns • BitClout controversy

TruBlo Newsletter #10

March 29, 2021


TruBlo Project Update

Open Call #1 is closed. If you found out too late, no worries: The next call will start in May 2021. The date will be published via the website, in this newsletter and on social media. Follow us on Twitter.

Updates this week:


TRUST


Pandemic boosts the market for digital signatures

Software for digital identities and digital signatures is in high demand. What has changed?

“The conversations five to six years ago were all about: ‘Is this legal? Is it legally binding?’” Ashley Still, the general manager of digital media at Adobe, told Protocol. “The conversations today are: ‘How does this fit into my overall infrastructure?”, via Protocol

Three examples:

DocuSign

“DocuSign, the industry leader, just reported a 57% increase in sales over the past year to $431 million. Adobe Sign had triple-digit year-over-year user growth in June, July, August and September last year, and high double-digit growth in the other months.”

Notarize

“The key to Notarize’s growth is more than just its core stamp and sign function. It’s the platform’s ability to navigate regulatory compliance… Trust is key as Notarize continues to onboard major companies like Adobe, Zillow, and Transamerica, and experience skyrocketing growth over the past year in financial services (up 324%), auto insurance (up 219%) and real estate (up 835%).”

Jumio (the company just raised $150 million)

“I think the big thing is that the foundation of the internet is identity, not anonymity,” said CEO Robert Prigge in an interview, who said the trend of digital transformation has spurred that change. “It’s been a big shift over the last couple of years. People wanted to originally hide behind anonymity, but now identify is the keystone. Whether it’s online banking or social networks, you need to be able to establish trust remotely.” LINK

Identity over anonymity. Is that the future? It is worth thinking a bit more about this statement.


California bans “dark patterns”

Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from a digital service and found it difficult? Likely it was not your fault at all, but a “dark pattern” on the website.

“Dark patterns are tricks used in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn’t mean to, like buying or signing up for something.”

California recently banned the use of such patterns. In Europe, such practices often violate GDPR or are an attempt to trick users into giving up their privacy.

The term was coined in 2010 by Harry Brignull, an expert in user experience. He created a website with examples and a “Hall of Shame”.

The challenge: There is quite a number of such layout tricks.

Three examples:

  • Indicating a high demand for an item or limited availability (“Only three left in stock”).
  • Forced enrollment: Before being able to enter a website, the user must provide private information.
  • Making it difficult or impossible to cancel a subscription or to delete an account. This practice is described as a “roach hotel”.

A 2019 study found that one in ten e-commerce websites uses such practices. LINK


CONTENT


BitClout: Controversy from the start

The idea was to create a social network that could not be censored and where people could follow prominent figures. So far it did not go well.

“When new crypto projects launch, the response is usually relentless cheerleading from Crypto Twitter. That wasn’t the case with BitClout. As details of the project began trickling out, including its decision to add people’s image without permission, a backlash swelled.” LINK


Facebook has 35.000 people tackling misinformation

Just an indicator of how big the problem of false content and fake accounts is.

“Facebook Inc said on Monday it took down 1.3 billion fake accounts between October and December 2020 and that it had over 35,000 people working on tackling misinformation on its platform. The company also removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines that global health experts flagged as misinformation”. LINK


Twitter is asking: Should presidents be allowed to tweet?

The company started a survey in 14 languages to get opinions from around the world. The questionnaire is open until April 12, 2021. LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Blockchain-based COVID passport now live in the state of New York

”The pass will be used to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues.”

The technology is provided by IBM.

LINK


Chainalysis doubles valuation to $2 billion

Chainanalysis announced new funding of $100 million last week. This means the value of the company has doubled in four months. Clear sign more transparency and an overview of the crypto markets are in demand.

Founded in 2014, Chainalysis helps governments and private sector companies detect and prevent the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in illicit activities like money laundering with its investigations and compliance software. The New York-based company competes with Ciphertrace, which is based in California, as well as London-headquartered firm Elliptic. LINK


Blockchain 3.0 in China

In the past decade, China’s blockchain market has undergone two periods of development. In blockchain 1.0, pioneering firms primarily focused on digital currency applications; in blockchain 2.0, visionary enterprises and vendors began to gain business value by piloting blockchain technologies. Since the second half of 2019, the prioritization of enterprise customers, the technology progress made by tech leaders, and the government’s pragmatic measures have been driving the Chinese market into the age of blockchain 3.0. It is when blockchain adoption gains momentum in all major verticals.”

Some optimism here. China wants to get ahead. But it is easy to imagine serious disruptions, which then might result in a rollback.

But the separation of blockchain adoption into three phases is helpful and could be applied to judge development in other world regions, too. LINK


Thank You for reading.

If you like the newsletter, please forward it to a colleague or friend.

Do you have feedback or suggestions? Contact us



This was issue #10 of TruBlo NEWSLETTER • Trustable content on future blockchains.
You can subscribe, unsubscribe, or view this email online.

TruBlo Project. TruBlo is an EU funded research project, c/o Deutsche Welle, Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 3, 53113 Bonn. Contact: info@trublo.eu

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash