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Celsius Network’s bungling showed why centralization can’t protect privacy

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Celsius Network’s bungling showed why centralization can’t protect privacy

In Celsius Network’s recent court filing, the billion-dollar centralized finance (CeFi) platform exposed more than 14,000 pages of customer identity and on-chain transaction data without user consent — a prescient reminder that privacy absent decentralization is no privacy at all.

As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, CeFi lending giant Celsius Network disclosed names and on-chain transaction data of tens of thousands of its customers in an Oct. 5 court filing. While Celsius’ user base complied with standard Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures in order to open personal accounts with the CeFi platform, none consented to nor could have anticipated a mass disclosure of this scope or scale.

In addition to doxxing the multi-million dollar withdrawals of Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky and chief strategy officer Daniel Leon just before Celsius’ bankruptcy announcement, the disclosure directed tens of thousands of CeFi users to reconsider what resolute privacy protections entail and how systems that incorporate any degree of trust or centralization stand to compromise those protections.

To protect privacy, any degree of centralization or specialized authority that exchanges use in the future must eschew the bungled Celsius model. Otherwise, privacy will be rendered yet another false promise teased out in the fine print.

Uncharted territory

While unsavory, at the very least, Celsius’ mass data dump points to more than an outright distrust of authority and opaque organizations. As per usual, at the intersection of on-chain finance and law, there’s a lot of gray area.

An emergent and nascent industry, the blockchain space has already spun up a mess of unprecedented conflicts and disputes that neither existing legislation nor established case law has developed a reliable methodology to navigate. Even in the heavily nuanced legal environment of 2022, courts are not adequately prepared to uphold established legal principles in the on-chain domain.

Related: Coinbase is fighting back as the SEC closes in on Tornado Cash

In defense of their customers, Celsius’ legal representatives allege that they issued requests to redact private customer data from their disclosures. However, their requests were ultimately rejected by the court on the grounds that all Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings require a complete and transparent “Creditor Matrix.” Obviously, such a bankruptcy rule was penned and passed several eras before the emergence of distributed on-chain lending protocols; a time when financial institutions did not have 14,000 pages worth of supposed creditors.

To make matters more unclear, Celsius legal officials have also claimed that, as per Celsius’ terms of service, all user funds deposited in the platform essentially belong to Celsius. Thus, as a self-regarded de-facto owner of all customer deposits, Celsius’ public release of customer transaction data treads further into hazy legal territory as to the parameters that define ownership — and, therefore, privacy protections — in the on-chain space.

Whatever the case, Celsius’ customers have permanently lost their privacy. The only sure verdict is that there can be no certainty in depending on an unprepared legal system to uphold privacy rights in fluid and uncharted territory.

Celsius isn’t alone

Although dramatic, Celsius’ meltdown is only the most recent in a stint of CeFi industry bankruptcies. The platform’s billion-dollar deficit presented in bankruptcy filings has been much less the exception than the rule.

Once one of crypto’s dearest and most powerful CeFi platforms, Celsius’ rise and downfall serve as a painful reminder to crypto critics and advocates alike that a core team can become a singular point of failure at any time. And further, centralized KYC procedures always carry some risk of exposure in legal proceedings.

The predicament tens of thousands of innocent crypto investors now face points to a much broader principle: that privacy cannot be truly conferred nor absolutely protected within the confines of a centralized system. Even with the best intentions in mind, professionals on both sides of the court have little legal precedent to draw from as they navigate the novel and perplexing territory.

Related: Government crackdowns are coming unless crypto starts self-policing

As on-chain data analytics become more sophisticated, hackers more conniving and personal data ever more valuable to marketing agencies and authorities, privacy-conscious individuals must exercise the utmost prudence in determining which crypto platforms best align with and protect their interests.

After all, Google, Meta, and the rest of the Web2 platforms that the crypto community has since dismissed as exploitative and archaic are about as private as Celsius and its CeFi counterparts. Each provides privacy as a service. Meanwhile, its users’ search histories, account information and browsing preferences are private to almost everyone — except, of course, the platform itself. As Celsius’ bankruptcy proceedings have proven, even the most well-intended custodians are not a sufficient substitute for decentralized architecture.

The true promise of systems built on blockchain is that what they confer, be it asset ownership, scarce monetary units or permissionless contracts, cannot be regulated, erased or modified on a whim. Their constitutions are written in code. Any and all modifications are coordinated and executed by decentralized autonomous organizations ( DAOs). There is no trust between counterparties, only a shared belief in the permanence of principle and the wisdom of the collective.

In the same way, privacy has been a prerequisite for personal freedom and self-expression since time immemorial, decentralization is today a prerequisite for privacy online — and, to that end, on-chain.

Alex Shipp is the chief strategy officer at Offshift, where he contributes to platform tokenomics, produces content and conducts business development on behalf of the project. In addition to his industry role as an expert in private decentralized finance (PriFi), he has also served as a writer at the Elastos Foundation and as an elected ecosystem representative on the Cyber Republic DAO.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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Bitcoin (BTC) Price Slips as US Labor Market Figures Hotter Than Expected

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Bitcoin (BTC) Price Slips as US Labor Market Figures Hotter Than Expected

Bitcoin fell 2% to around $16,800 after the Nov. 2022 U.S. jobs report revealed a strong labor market, despite the Federal Reserve’s six consecutive interest rate hikes in 2022.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 263,000, beating the Dow Jones estimate of 200,000, while the unemployment rate matched expectations at 3.7%.

Jobs Report Signals Fed Hikes Are Likely to Persist

The gain in nonfarm payrolls came in slightly lower than the revised Oct. 2022 increase of 284,000, while average hourly earnings rose 0.6% compared to estimates of 0.3%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the nonfarm payroll and average hourly earnings at 8:30 E.T. on the first Friday of every month as part of the Employment Situation report.

While rising employment rates and wages generally point to a healthy economy, wages that grow too fast, especially in the presence of record levels of inflation, encourage the Fed to continue raising interest rates to ensure that the economy doesn’t run red-hot. 

“To have 263,000 jobs added even after policy rates have been raised by some [375] basis points is no joke,” noted Seema Shah of Principal Asset Management. “The labor market is hot, hot, hot, heaping pressure on the Fed to continue raising policy rates.”

Raising policy or interest rates cools economic expansion, but if done too aggressively, it could significantly curtail employment and pitch the economy into a recession. Recession fears generally create selling pressure on risky assets like cryptos and equities, driving prices into bear territory.

Cryptos ceded gains accrued earlier this week around a lower-than-expected Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index of 0.2% for Nov. 2022. 

At press time, XRP was down about 2.5%, while DOGE fell 3.78%. Solana also declined by 1.1%. Equities markets also tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.9%, the S&P 500 1.2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 1.5%. 

Crypto price heatmap
Source: Coin360

Elsewhere, gold is outshining Bitcoin as an inflation hedge and trading back at its price at the beginning of the year, $1,800 per ounce. By comparison, Bitcoin has fallen 63% in the same period.

Jobs Report and Inflation Still Likely to Influence Crypto Prices

The higher-than-expected Nov. 2022 nonfarm payroll number is the lowest jobs gain since April 2021, coming after a revised increase of 284,000 new jobs in Oct. 2022.

Nonfarm payroll increases in 2022
Source: TradingEconomics

The most significant adjusted increases in the nonfarm payroll were noted in the Feb. 2022 and July 2022 jobs report. The Feb. 2022 report revealed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 714,000 in Jan. 2022, prompting the Fed to step in with a 25 basis-point hike in March. 

The following four reports pointed to a cooling down of the labor market, which then picked up again in June 2022, when the Fed introduced its first 75 basis point hike of 2022.

On Nov. 30, Fed chair Jerome Powell noted that less aggressive rate hikes might be a distinct possibility at the next Fed meeting, although most analysts do not expect a drastic fall off from the last four increases of 0.75%. 

They predict that the Fed will increase interest rates by 50 basis points at the next Federal Open Markets Committee meeting in mid-Dec. 2022, taking the federal funds rate above the 4% mark. 

The Fed meeting will likely spark a rally in both cryptos and stocks if analysts’ estimates prove accurate.

For Be[In] Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

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All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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EU Parliament to ‘Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA’ — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

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EU Parliament to ‘Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA’ — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

In a recent statement, the European Parliament said its members would shortly “vote on adopting the regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA).” According to the parliamentary body’s think tank, the envisaged regulations are expected to provide “legal certainty for crypto-assets not covered by existing EU legislation.” A crypto counselor, Paulius Vaitkevicius, said any regulation of crypto is likely to result in more capital and talent coming into the space.

‘Harmonized Rules’ for Crypto-Assets at EU Level

After months of discussions and negotiations which culminated in the June 30 preliminary agreement, the European Parliament (EP) is now set to “vote on adopting the regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA).” The vote is set to take place during the legislative body’s plenary session. European leaders assert that the adoption of MiCA will lead to the creation of “harmonized rules for crypto-assets at [the] E.U. level.”

According to a Nov. 29 briefing by the parliament’s think tank, the harmonized crypto rules are expected to provide “legal certainty for crypto-assets not covered by existing EU legislation.” In the briefing, the EP also argues that the rules will not only enhance the protection of consumers and investors but will also “promote innovation and use of crypto-assets.”

Through MICA, European authorities also hope “to regulate [the] issuance and trading of crypto-assets as well as the management of the underlying assets.”

While European leaders like European Central Bank president Christine Largade are pushing for tougher regulation — MiCA II — some critics of the proposed legislation argue that the envisaged regulations in their current form may stifle innovation.

Legal Clarity Attracts Mature Players

Commenting on the European Union’s drive to regulate cryptocurrencies, Paulius Vaitkevicius, founder and crypto counselor at the law firm VILP Solutions, said the prevailing “Wild West environment” is not helpful to all parties. He also told Bitcoin.com News that without guidelines or regulatory frameworks “and with a number of situations where industry players collapse, we might end up in a situation where we will have only a handful of investors left in the industry.”

EU Parliament to 'Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA' — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

Therefore, to stop this from happening the crypto industry needs legal clarity, which according to Vaitkevicius, “bring[s] in more mature players to the industry from both project and investor sides.” Explaining why he is in favor of regulating the industry, Vaitkevicius said:

From my personal experience, such players have been seeking regulations and clarity already for some time and waiting for the right moment to step in properly. With regulations, we will see these firm steps and as a result additional capital and talent coming to the industry space.

Meanwhile, some crypto opponents have said if appropriate regulatory frameworks were already in place, Sam Bankman-Fried’s shenanigans would have been exposed much earlier. However, when asked about the validity of this argument, Vaitkevicius said the opinion that on paper FTX itself was “one of the most regulated players in the industry” undermines this theory. He added:

“Regulation is a good step forward, but [this] needs to be followed by other elements to be functional in real-life situations and achieve the pursued goals.”

What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Terence Zimwara

Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

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Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

The authority responsible for crypto oversight in Uzbekistan has determined the order of issuing and circulating digital assets in the country. The main reason behind the move is to establish a mechanism that would allow local companies to attract capital through coins and tokens.

Uzbekistan Government Sets Out to Regulate Digital Asset Investments

The National Agency of Perspective Projects (NAPP), under the President of Uzbekistan, has released a new regulation on the procedures for the issue, registration, and release in circulation of crypto assets in the Central Asian Nation.

The document provides basic legal definitions for crypto assets and makes distinction between the different types. It introduces requirements for crypto issuers, depositaries and custodians and determines their obligations, including those concerning relations with customers.

The authority has also approved rules for the establishment and maintaining of an electronic register of crypto assets and adopted accounting standards for the rights associated with them and those of their holders.

Crypto depositories will be responsible for providing services for the issuance, registration, circulation, and storage of crypto assets. Issuers can use them or other electronic platforms, the NAPP said, pointing out that the nominal value of the coins must be expressed only in the national fiat, the Uzbekistani som.

The agency emphasized that the issuance of unsecured tokens is prohibited. Using words such as “state,” “state-secured,” “state-supported,” “Uzbekistan,” “Uzbek,” “national,” and “som” in the names of the cryptos is banned. The regulator also clarified:

The main purpose of the adoption of this document is to create a new mechanism for business entities to attract investments and develop their activities by issuing and registering the issue of secured tokens.

The NAPP further warned against any unauthorized activities related to the circulation of crypto assets in the country or the use of services by providers that have not obtained a license to offer them. The same applies to firms involved in the mining of cryptocurrency.

Uzbekistan has been taking steps towards the comprehensive regulation of its crypto sector with several decrees signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and resolutions by the National Agency of Perspective Projects. The country recently licensed two companies to provide exchange services.

Do you think Uzbekistanis will benefit from the new regulations adopted by the country’s crypto watchdog? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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