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Preston Byrne: The Gamestop Backlash Will Curtail Freedom

Gamestop’s “squeezening” is likely to increase calls for curbs on memetic disturbances. That could be dangerous for free speech.

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Gamestop’s “squeezening” is likely to increase calls for curbs on “memetic disturbances.” That could be dangerous for free speech.

(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Jan 28, 2021 at 12:17 p.m. UTC

‘The Squeezening’: How the Gamestop Backlash will Curtail Freedom

The Gamestop short squeeze – in Bitcoin parlance, “the squeezening” – is only the latest example of online memes crossing into the real world and having real world consequences.

Those of us who have been on the internet for a little while will recall the glory days of 4Chan and the practice of online griefers mobbing Second Life or Habbo Hotel.

Preston Byrne, a CoinDesk columnist, is a partner in Anderson Kill’s Technology, Media and Distributed Systems Group. He advises software, internet and fintech companies.

We also recall that those griefers – or, at least, their fellow-travelers – experimented with real-world organizing in a series of protests around the world against the Church of Scientology, code-named “Project Chanology.” I remember these protests well, and recall gushing about them to one of my law school classmates in total amazement that references to LongCat, Over 9000, and Rick Astley were being piped into the open air of London’s streets. Few if any people older than we were would have understood them.

The esoteric nature of that subculture notwithstanding, the protests made national news across the world for a variety of reasons. In London, for example, an eponymous teenager named Epic Nose Guy refused to put away a sign reading “Scientology is a Dangerous Cult” and received a court summons as a result, raising free speech concerns. Ultimately, though, the interest in these protests was not due to anyone treating them particularly seriously. Most observers seemed only mildly amused that something online managed to get out of its cage, albeit temporarily, and make its presence known among the normies.

Fast forward a decade, and it is clear historians of the future will see the Anonymous street protests of 2008 as being more consequential than the global financial crisis that emerged later in the year.

Our world is now in thrall to the memes. I have argued elsewhere that Bitcoin is best understood as meme money: “Bitcoin’s growth is not based on its technology alone (which, while powerful, is open-source and therefore easily replicable) but rather on the strength of virality, encouraged by the vested interests who held early and invested in marketing it; with no genuine business underlying it, it acquires its (very substantial) memetic potency only from the evangelism of those who hodl and preach.”

So it has been with every other major upset of the last four years. Donald Trump was the meme President. The trespassing on the Capitol three weeks ago by some of the same people who produced those memes in 2016 was driven, at least in part, by new and even more potent conspiratorial memes on the internet. Now, hedge funds are getting utterly destroyed by a group Redditors gleefully committing memetic securities fraud in the open.

The crypto-universe, being principally concerned with meme money, contains both institutional types who are, at least as far as I can tell, thoroughly rattled at the roving band of meme-barbarians at their gates. It also contains meme warriors euphoric at their newfound power.

And just as we have seen social media companies co-opted by state actors to carry out censorship of enemy memes, financial services providers shatter norms at warp speed by cutting off brokerage accounts from hot meme stocks like $GME and $AMC.

Once the lulz have been had, the Gamestop event will likely lead to calls for (a) Section 230 reform by elites who are rattled that a bunch of shitposters can ruin them in the markets and (b) some type of regulatory intervention in the markets.

Once the lulz have been had, the Gamestop event will likely lead to calls for.. reform by elites who are rattled [by] a bunch of shitposters.

In other words, the people who stand to lose the most from Gamestop-style events are going to try to curtail freedom of speech and economic freedom by targeting the technology companies that enable the exercise of those freedoms. Trump’s election wrought social media censorship. The invasion of the Capitol led to the military occupation of D.C. and calls for harsh domestic anti-terror laws. The Squeezening will engender a regulatory response, too.

The Squeezening is only the latest example of how mass, instantaneous global communication lays perpetual, unsleeping siege to our analog society. We need to adapt to memetic warfare and develop new methods – a new Trivium, new commercial contract boilerplate, new employment terms – which can be instantly invoked at the first sign of memetic disturbance to halt transactions and legal processes which may have fallen under the influence of a malign internet mob.

If we don’t, stringent regulations will try (and fail) to restrain the memes at the expense of our freedom. That is an outcome we should all work strenuously to avoid.

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/gamestop-backlash-will-curtail-freedom

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Japan’s SBI Investing ‘Eight-Figure’ Sum in Swiss Crypto Bank Sygnum

Japanese financial services firm SBI Holdings is to lead an ongoing funding round for Swiss digital asset bank Sygnum.

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SBI’s digital assets subsidiary will lead a round that will have raised around $30 million for the Swiss firm over six months.

Feb 18, 2021 at 12:07 a.m. UTCUpdated Feb 18, 2021 at 1:24 a.m. UTC

Japan’s SBI Investing ‘Eight-Figure’ Sum in Swiss Crypto Bank Sygnum

SBI Holdings, a Japanese financial services firm, is to lead an ongoing strategic fundraising round for Swiss digital asset bank Sygnum.

Sygnum, which holds a Swiss banking license, said Tuesday it has secured an “eight-figure” U.S. dollar investment from SBI’s subsidiary, SBI Digital Asset Holdings, which will be used to help the firm grow its client base and expand into new markets across Europe and Asia.

The firm, which has bases in Switzerland and Singapore, said the fundraising effort will have brought in investment of around $30 million over the past six months, helping the firm grow its assets under administration, which stood at over $500 million as of January 2021.

Coming as the company prepares for a possible public offering, the capital raised will also go toward increasing Sygnum’s range of custody offerings, commercializing its tokenization platform and secondary market trading facility, as well as expanding its open banking API infrastructure.

“With this strong start to 2021, we look forward to working with our stakeholders to continue innovating new solutions, launching new products, and ultimately providing our clients the ability to participate in the fast-growing digital assets opportunity in a safe, convenient, and fully-regulated manner,” said Gerald Goh, the co-founder and CEO of Sygnum Singapore.

The two firms have had a business relationship since last October, when they launched a fund in Singapore focused on early-stage cryptocurrency investment opportunities.

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/japans-sbi-investing-eight-figure-sum-in-swiss-crypto-bank-sygnum

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Deutsche Bank Quietly Plans to Offer Crypto Custody, Prime Brokerage- CoinDesk

The bank’s game plan was hidden in plain sight in a widely overlooked report by the World Economic Forum.

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The bank’s game plan was hidden in plain sight in a widely overlooked report by the World Economic Forum.

Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Feb 13, 2021 at 2:10 a.m. UTCUpdated Feb 13, 2021 at 2:18 a.m. UTC

Deutsche Bank Quietly Plans to Offer Crypto Custody, Prime Brokerage

Deutsche Bank has joined the growing ranks of large financial institutions exploring cryptocurrency custody, with aspirations to offer high-touch services to hedge funds that invest in the asset class.

The Deutsche Bank Digital Asset Custody prototype aims to develop “a fully integrated custody platform for institutional clients and their digital assets providing seamless connectivity to the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem,” according to a little-noticed report by the World Economic Forum, host of the annual gathering of muckety-mucks in Davos, Switzerland.

In a passage buried on page 23 of the December 2020 report, Germany’s largest bank says it plans to create a trading and token issuance platform, bridging digital assets with traditional banking services, and managing the array of digital assets and fiat holdings in one easy-to-use platform.

Big banks are now announcing plans to enter crypto custody on an almost daily basis, with Bank of New York Mellon, the world’s largest custodian bank, joining the party earlier this week.

U.S. banks were given some regulatory clarity thanks to last year’s interpretation letters from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In Germany, firms are queuing up to get their hands on special crypto custody licenses from the country’s regulator, BaFIN.

Deutsche, the world’s 21st largest bank, said it aims to “ensure the safety and accessibility of assets for clients by offering an institutional-grade hot/cold storage solution with insurance-grade protection.” No specific cryptocurrencies or tokens are mentioned.

The digital asset custody platform would be launched in stages. It would eventually provide clients with the ability to buy and sell digital assets via a partnership with prime brokers (which act sort of like concierges for hedge funds), issuers and vetted exchanges.

The bank says it would also provide “value-added services such as taxation, valuation services and fund administration, lending, staking and voting, and provide an open-banking platform to allow onboarding of third-party providers.”

The service would be aimed at asset managers, wealth managers, family offices, corporates and digital funds, the bank said.

In terms of a business model, the bank would start out collecting custody fees, it said, later charging fees for tokenization and trading.

Deutsche said it has completed a proof of concept and is aiming for a minimum viable product in 2021, while exploring global client interest for a pilot initiative.

The bank’s press office could not be reached for comment Friday evening. A spokesperson had declined to comment on potential plans for a digital asset custody business when contacted last week by CoinDesk.

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/deutsche-bank-crypto-custody-prime-brokerage

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Elon Musk Bites Back at Freewallet After Dogecoin Tweet

The Tesla CEO said crypto users should avoid wallets that do not give them access to their private keys

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The Tesla CEO said crypto users should avoid wallets that do not give them access to their private keys

Feb 10, 2021 at 12:07 p.m. UTC

Elon Musk Bites Back at Freewallet After Dogecoin Tweet

Elon Musk has issued short shrift to Freewallet on Twitter after the cryptocurrency wallet provider attempted to use the Tesla CEO’s tweet celebrating dogecoin to promote its services.

  • Saying Freewallet’s app “sucks,” Musk stated Wednesday his belief that crypto users should avoid wallets that do not give them access to their private keys
  • Musk followed this up by tweeting an image of Chuck Norris saying the martial artist and actor “can withdraw bitcoins from Mt. Gox”, a take on the popular “Chuck Norris Facts” meme
  • Owing to security incidents such as the infamous hack of the Mt. Gox exchange, which relieved nearly 750,000 users of $450 million-worth of bitcoin, crypto experts recommend storing holdings in secure wallets away from third-party providers.
  • The sentiment has given rise to the popular expression, “Not your keys, not your coins.”
  • Freewallet had retweeted Musk’s tweet during a recent dogecoin price surge, attempting to promote its DOGE-buying services.
  • Musk has been fond of tweeting about bitcoin and dogecoin, often seen as friendly trolling of the crypto community. However, Tesla disclosed Monday that it had invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin, news that caused the cryptocurrency to rise to new highs above $48,000.

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/elon-musk-bites-back-at-freewallet-after-dogecoin-tweet

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