ConsenSys Ventures had earlier on April 1st released a press release concerning several blockchain start-up projects they intended to back for the year 2019, through their accelerator program Tachyon; which was launched in Berlin at
Coinbase, one of the largest crypto firms, has been under attack since they announced their acquisition of blockchain platform Neutrino on February 19th 2019. The protest from angry Coinbase subscribers comes up because of Neutrino’s shady past. As at the time of post, angry Coinbase fans have started a movement on twitter to delete their accounts with the company as the move is not trustworthy and they were not informed about it beforehand. At first it looked like a casual business move but as soon as the identity of the bought out company was revealed, all hell broke loose.
Neutrino founders and majority of the employees were part of Hacking Team, an Italian company started in 2016 that more than once was caught selling spyware applications to governments accused of gross human rights infringements. In fact on their website, the openly declare that their spyware is offers solutions for law enforcement and financial services. Its two programs, XFlow and nSpect, offer ‘comprehensive solutions for tracking and analyzing cryptocurrency flows across multiple blockchains.’
According to users, the history behind Neutrino will serve to taint the reputation of Coinbase and its loyal user base is not having it. CCN actually termed Neutrino as a ‘notorious spyware creator’ and that the merger threatens the security of Coinbase users. The company used to develop applications that allow law-enforcement, security organizations, governments and financial institutions track transactions on the blockchain platform to investigate them.
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Back in 2003, Hacker Team three man gang consisting of CEO Russo Giancarlo, CTO Alberto Ornaghi and CRO Marco Valleri were the brains behind developing a Trojan Horse form of spyware that was used in oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Bahrain, Turkey and Kazakhstan to remotely access files, emails and passwords of the targeted individuals they deemed to be enemies of the regime.
Hence the #deletecoinbase campaign. Users feel that Coinbase has intentions to strip away their privacy despite whatever reason they have for using cryptocurrency. This is hot on the heels of the fight that Coinbase put up when government entities requested that they had over user records. Having seen the route that too much scrutiny brings, it’s obviously presumable that Coinbase would think twice before taking on the acquisition and steer very far away from it (oh and Neutrino maintains a separate entity). Maybe if Neutrino had not been involved in half-truths and questionable operations we could have viewed their trademark multi blockchain traceability differently.
Coinbase released a statement following the acquisition to address the concerns raised on social media and in general by clients and the crypto community. They acknowledged Neutrino’s controversial past and stated that they in no way condone their previous infringement applications but that they intend to bring on board that technology to better protect their customers’ interests and manage the risks involved in crypto economy.
Users are not really buying this idea since the practices by Neutrino are directly in conflict with the censorship resistance of crypto trading and blockchain technology. In 2016, Hacker Team earned a bad reputation for targeting political journalists and vocal activists in Ecuador and Mexico who opposed the government and were referred to as ‘enemies of the internet’.
The question on the boycotting users of Coinbase is that the crypto company has not addressed how it intends to curb the risky consequences of privacy breaches and the potential abuse of such technology by the company. What are your thoughts on the company analyzing the data stored in the blockchain to improve tracking of transactions? Do you think that the only way they could do this was buy adopting Neutrino’s technology? Is Coinbase really ready to apply the technology on its database? Why is it that even after acquisition, Neutrino will be an independent part of Coinbase and does it mean that Coinbase will have restricted access?
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