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FTC meeting


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#1 Mike Hearn

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 11:35 PM

This afternoon Patrick and Jinyoung went to the FTC to give them a Bitcoin tutorial and answer any questions they had. A lot of FTC staff turned up, probably between 60 and 70. I dialed in via conference line and gave a presentation on consumer protection techniques, specifically I talked about:
  • Hardware wallets
  • Dispute mediated transactions
  • The payment protocol
  • Micropayments
It seemed to go down OK and the questions were all pretty reasonable.

#2 Michael Goldstein

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:46 AM

Did any questions in particular stand out as interesting for one reason or another?

#3 Pierre Rochard

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:04 AM

Any mention of Butterfly Labs / pre-selling of mining hardware?

#4 Dan Plante

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:05 AM

Pierre, good question. I suspect that the concept of caveat emptor might become vogue again. An expensive learning curve is a bitch, but such is (and should be) life.

Mike, did you bring up your latest posts about defeating financial tracking wrt merging? Just wondering. And, I would also pass on Michael's question - any news?

#5 Pierre Rochard

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:34 PM

View PostDan Plante, on 13 December 2013 - 08:05 AM, said:

Pierre, good question. I suspect that the concept of caveat emptor might become vogue again. An expensive learning curve is a bitch, but such is (and should be) life.


Caveat emptor does not apply to material misrepresentations under common law.

#6 Gregory Sanders

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:00 PM

Just jumping in to say it's great you're showing that "consumer protection" can be found, and not just govt interference pretending to be protection.

#7 Patrick Murck

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:19 PM

View PostDan Plante, on 13 December 2013 - 08:05 AM, said:

Pierre, good question. I suspect that the concept of caveat emptor might become vogue again. An expensive learning curve is a bitch, but such is (and should be) life.

Mike, did you bring up your latest posts about defeating financial tracking wrt merging? Just wondering. And, I would also pass on Michael's question - any news?

We did discuss merging and other methods for preserving consumer privacy in response to a question from one of the FTC participants who was concerned about how much personal financial information could be attained from blockchain analysis.

#8 Patrick Murck

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:20 PM

View PostPierre Rochard, on 13 December 2013 - 03:04 AM, said:

Any mention of Butterfly Labs / pre-selling of mining hardware?

We did not discuss any specific companies or incidents. This was purely educational for the FTC staff.

#9 Mike Hearn

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:11 PM

I don't think we mentioned merging/coinjoin explicitly (or at least I didn't) but we did say that people are researching ways to stop privacy leaks. You know, it might be embarrassing if someone knew you shopped at Starbucks, etc ;)

Overall there was not much of a focus on crimes. They did ask about hacking/theft incidents and if the FTC could do anything there. I think they are going to issue an advisory that just says, "bitcoin is experimental, caveat emptor" in more words, which is of course A-OK by us.

#10 Dan Plante

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 04:53 AM

View PostPierre Rochard, on 13 December 2013 - 02:34 PM, said:

Caveat emptor does not apply to material misrepresentations under common law.

I think the greatest contribution to human civilization that Britain ever disgorged is British Common Law and Equity Law. Marginally more important than the steam engine and resultant Industrial Revolution. I can see an evolutionary link to Hammurabi in the essence of it. But from a pedestrian standpoint, sometimes caveat emptor just means "what the F were you thinking?"

#11 Dan Plante

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:04 AM

View PostPatrick Murck, on 13 December 2013 - 03:19 PM, said:

We did discuss merging and other methods for preserving consumer privacy in response to a question from one of the FTC participants who was concerned about how much personal financial information could be attained from blockchain analysis.

Thanks Patrick. I find it interesting that employees of the FTC would exhibit concern about financial privacy. I suspect they were low-level peeps, God love 'em.

#12 Dan Plante

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:08 AM

View PostMike Hearn, on 13 December 2013 - 05:11 PM, said:

I don't think we mentioned merging/coinjoin explicitly (or at least I didn't) but we did say that people are researching ways to stop privacy leaks. You know, it might be embarrassing if someone knew you shopped at Starbucks, etc ;)

Overall there was not much of a focus on crimes. They did ask about hacking/theft incidents and if the FTC could do anything there. I think they are going to issue an advisory that just says, "bitcoin is experimental, caveat emptor" in more words, which is of course A-OK by us.

A-OK by me too. Thanks Mike.