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Author Topic: Letter to the EFF  (Read 34867 times)
jimbobway
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November 16, 2010, 02:01:18 AM
 #241

This just in....Bitcoin newscast!

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7682177/


 Cheesy

Thanks to jimbobway for writing the article.

LOL!  Very funny!!!  Grin
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kiba
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November 16, 2010, 05:43:46 AM
 #242

Thanks for the media storm created by jimbobaway.

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November 16, 2010, 05:58:52 AM
 #243

Lol, I read the article earlier and it didn't strike me as overly ominous. But hearing it in that voice is scary! The first 30 seconds sound like a warning.

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November 16, 2010, 06:05:29 AM
 #244

And now I can claim that I started the longest thread on this forum, ever.

AND! I just extended it by one post longer with my declaration. Cheesy

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March 03, 2011, 03:58:55 PM
 #245

Hey there everyone -
   I think it's time to follow up on this. I'm afraid that the EFF hasn't checked their mybitcoin.com account, and might not be aware that they've collected over 3000BTC, and that given the recent surge in popularity it's a considerable donation that they might want to redeem now. I wrote the following as a letter - I'm planning on publishing it on a blog or emailing it to the new EFF staff member who wrote recently about bitcoin. But it would be rude to take the thunder away from the original 'hero member' so I figured I'd run it by here first. What do you guys think?



"""
Hi Rainey,

   I'm a newcomer to bitcoin - I've been studying the community for just over a week. One of the first things that appealed to me was that EFF accepted bitcoin donations. I wondered how that came about - does the EFF endorse bitcoin? I set about researching this question using the bitcoin forum, the bitcoin block record itself, and questions directed at the IRC channel. I found out that the EFF started accepting bitcoin donations in August 2010 after several forum members collaborated on a letter and created a mybitcoin.com account to receive the donations. EFF was able to log into the mybitcoin.com account, and even created a Bitcoin Market account with the plan of withdrawing donations via paypal. However, it doesn't seem like there has been a follow up since October 2010. Although your blog post mentioning that EFF accepts bitcoin donations is more recent, it didn't describe in detail how the EFF receives the donations - so I wonder if you weren't aware of this story either.

   I was surprised to find out that the EFF bitcoin address has received 3,000 bitcoins in donations, which is arguably worth about $2,700 USD. A bulk of the donations occurred right away - no doubt from the forum members who drafted the letter - but smaller donations have continued to trickle in daily. Have the original contacts at EFF (Aaron or Mitchell) checked the account recently, or tried to convert the bitcoins back to cash through paypal as they planned? My guess is that no one has checked in a while! It seems to me that the underlying goal of the donation box was to encourage EFF to learn about the bitcoin technology by directly interacting with the community and having a stake in it.

  So, while you could 'cash out' by figuring out how to withdraw the bitcoins through paypal (if I'm right in guessing they're still in the mybitcoin account) - that would be missing out on some of the learning opportunity. You rightly noted in your blog post that an important distinction between bitcoin (a cryptocurrency) and services like paypal is that paypal has been known to freeze accounts (such as wikileaks). I'm sure EFF will have no problem pulling money from their paypal account, but bitcoins are especially useful when paypal isn't an option.


  For example, you could treat this as an experiment in withdrawing money anonymously. Bitcoin is a powerful tool for anonymous transactions, just as Tor is a powerful tool for anonymous speech. It's counterintuitive that bitcoin enables privacy since all the transactions are broadcast to the network! I was able to find out how many bitcoins were donated to EFF by reading the public bitcoin 'block chain'. However, once the bitcoins are passed through a relay (such as mybitcoin.com) the trail forks away. That's why I can't tell for sure if someone has already tried to use the donations! (Of course, mybitcoin.com might keep logs. And if you withdrew the exact balance at once (3 147.94btc) then it might be possible to connect the dots.) I'd like to pose the following as a challenge: route the bitcoins through several relays, split them into multiple addresses, and withdraw in small amounts, through several means, without identifying yourself as EFF. Besides services like coinpal that withdraw to a paypal account, there is a coin4cash website that will send you cash by mail, or you could get a prepaid VISA gift card from coincard. You can transfer to electronic exchangers like Liberty Reserve or moneybookers using www.mtgox.com, and a robot in #bitcoin-otc mediates an over-the-counter market for trades.  If this sounds like a dry run for laundering money, consider that it's the same quality that makes this a worthwhile 'liberation technology'. A lof of the fun of bitcoin technology is that it's very easy to write code for - this encourages diversity and innovation in the form of small web services. My favorite is an escrow at www.clearcoin.com, which has a default option to specify EFF as the recipient of the collateral bitcoins in case one of the parties reneges. I wonder if I can find out how many of the donated coins came from there. Keep in mind that the bitcoin economy is relatively small, and it's correct to say that the technology is in its infancy - so the people running these services that will help you 'cash out' are likely to be some of the same people who donated in the first place.

  If this is too sketchy for EFF, then I have a couple of other suggestions of things you can do with 3000 bitcoins that don't require converting to cash. Dissidents in an authoritarian country will probably have a hard time getting tangible goods; they'd probably get the most value by trading for virtual and information services, such as web hosting and web development - after all, the early adopters of bitcoin are technically savvy and many are open source developers. You could give the bitcoins to Tor or Tahoe-LFS to use as bugfix bounties. The Tor project could offer bitcoins as a reward for operating a relay - the relay operators could receive the reward while remaining anonymous!  If all else fails, there's a guy that will order you a pizza. Ultimately, trading bitcoins for cash is the part that's most uncertain - it's my hope that EFF will use its bitcoin donations to blaze some trails for other organizations to follow.
"""

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March 03, 2011, 04:51:20 PM
 #246

I'm afraid that the EFF hasn't checked their mybitcoin.com account, and might not be aware that they've collected over 3000BTC, and that given the recent surge in popularity it's a considerable donation that they might want to redeem now

It looks like EFF only has 0.25 BTC in that address at the moment (the the Balance column at the very bottom of the page).  Although they have received over 3000 BTC in the course of that address's history.  They seem to be spending the coins as soon as they receive them.
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March 03, 2011, 05:03:12 PM
 #247

mndrix, the donations were sent to a mybitcoin.com account. We can't tell what's happened since then - but my guess is they haven't touched it. If kiba still has the keys to the account, maybe he could check on it for us. 

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kiba
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March 03, 2011, 05:06:01 PM
 #248

mndrix, the donations were sent to a mybitcoin.com account. We can't tell what's happened since then - but my guess is they haven't touched it. If kiba still has the keys to the account, maybe he could check on it for us. 

Um, that would be unethical.

socrates1024
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March 03, 2011, 05:14:58 PM
 #249

You're absolutely right! More reason EFF should check on it themselves.

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Cryptoman
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March 03, 2011, 05:15:58 PM
 #250

I don't know if this has made the rounds here yet, but here's a video of Rainey promoting Bitcoin, among other things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ti5O3TI3iw


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March 03, 2011, 05:37:35 PM
 #251

The EFF is probably dumping their bitcoin on the market and that's what is keeping the price under $1.00 now.

Founding Director, Bitcoin Foundation
I also cover the bitcoin economy for Forbes, American Banker, PaymentsSource, and CoinDesk.
socrates1024
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March 03, 2011, 05:38:26 PM
 #252

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ti5O3TI3iw#t=1m12s

From Rainey:

   "Bitcoin... a decentralized internet currency... it's shockingly simple to get bitcoin up and running on your computer."

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ribuck
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March 03, 2011, 06:05:22 PM
 #253

I suggest to not hassle the EFF about this. I'm sure they have enough people who know about the bitcoins. The EFF staff have better things to do than to read, digest, and reply to long letters.

The video of Rainey mentioning Bitcoin is great!
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March 03, 2011, 06:13:47 PM
 #254

ribuck, I nearly agree with you and this is one reason I went to the forum first.

However, don't you think the potential to redeem a $3,000 donation is worth their time?

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March 03, 2011, 06:18:08 PM
 #255

ribuck, I nearly agree with you and this is one reason I went to the forum first.

However, don't you think the potential to redeem a $3,000 donation is worth their time?

It looks like EFF only has 0.25 BTC in that address at the moment (the the Balance column at the very bottom of the page).  Although they have received over 3000 BTC in the course of that address's history.  They seem to be spending the coins as soon as they receive them.

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socrates1024
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March 03, 2011, 06:24:10 PM
 #256

LMGTFY, the EFF donation address is associated with a mybitcoin.com account. All we can tell is that the coins have been collected by the wallet of mybitcoin.com. Unless EFF has been actively managing their bitcoins, they're still in the mybitcoin account.

The only way we could find out (besides logging into their account, which would be unethical) is to ask them!

amiller on freenode / 19G6VFcV1qZJxe3Swn28xz3F8gDKTznwEM
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ribuck
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March 03, 2011, 06:27:03 PM
 #257

However, don't you think the potential to redeem a $3,000 donation is worth their time?

There's no urgency to convert the bitcoins into fiat currency. It would be cooler if they wait until they want to buy something that can be paid for directly with bitcoins.
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March 03, 2011, 06:31:21 PM
 #258

The EFF is a registered nonprofit, that publishes annual reports (although the latest I see at their website is for 2009). If will be interesting to see if/how they report their bitcoin donations.
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March 03, 2011, 06:32:42 PM
 #259

LMGTFY, the EFF donation address is associated with a mybitcoin.com account. All we can tell is that the coins have been collected by the wallet of mybitcoin.com. Unless EFF has been actively managing their bitcoins, they're still in the mybitcoin account.

The only way we could find out (besides logging into their account, which would be unethical) is to ask them!
So... they're receiving bitcoins at one address, they know how to transfer them to Mybitcoin, but we're assuming that they don't know that they then need to spend them? I agree with the posters above - it would be unethical to pry into their affairs. This seems like a classic case of "nothing to see here", a solution in search of a problem: it's like someone saying "I know you got paid a salary this month, but I'm concerned that once your wages were in your bank account you didn't know what to do with them. Can I peek into your bank account to check that you're spending your wages?" Hell, maybe the EFF want to save their bitcoins and spend them on something big? Is this really any of our business? EFF members have a right to find out, and I darer say they will in good time, when the EFF next release a report. But it really doesn't seem like it's any of our business.


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socrates1024
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March 03, 2011, 06:51:16 PM
 #260

LMGTFY, it's not likely they are transferring the coins to mybitcoin themselves. The address is a mybitcoin.com address - it happens automatically.

My belief is that the motivation behind establishing a donation box for the EFF wasn't just to help them raise money, but as a way of introducing bitcoin to the EFF, with the hope that EFF will take the time to learn how bitcoin works and become an ally in advocating it to other organizations. If they find a way report it as donation income, for example, then that would set a precedent that the rest of us could follow. Like you said ribuck, EFF has better things to do then install some software and help us debug it. But, thanks to your donations, now they have a stake in it, and an incentive to play along!

It's none of our business what they do with it, but if it's the case that they're just sitting in the account because we haven't followed up on it, then I it's appropriate for us to let them know about the alternatives. It should be a learning opportunity, I'm pretty sure that was the whole point.


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[my twitter] [research@umd]
I study Merkle trees, credit networks, and Byzantine Consensus algorithms.
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