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Government warns about Cryptocurrencies threat

According to investigation agencies here, with the demand and price of cryptocurrencies on the rise, cybercriminals have found innovative ways to dupe those looking to invest.

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The Indian governemnt has compared the cryptocurrency to ponzi schemes. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian governemnt has compared the cryptocurrency to ponzi schemes. Wikimedia Commons
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Noting that virtual currencies like Bitcoin have no “intrinsic value”, the Indian government on Friday sounded the alarm on the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies, comparing them with the notorious Ponzi schemes floated to dupe gullible investors.
A Finance Ministry statement said that as virtual currencies (VCs) were not backed by assets, their prices are entirely a “matter of mere speculation”.
“Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes.”
Named after an Italian immigrant to the US, Ponzi schemes operate by enticing a gullible group with the promise of very high returns in a short time but is based on paying off the early investors from the cash from newer ones. The whole structure collapses when the cash outflow exceeds the inflow.
“VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets, ” the statement said.
“The price of bitcoin and other VCs, therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes,” it added.
cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of mobile application for transacting in VC. Wikimedia Commons
cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of mobile application for transacting in VC. Wikimedia Commons
Noting that VCs are stored in digital format, the ministry said this makes them vulnerable to mishaps like hacking, loss of password and malware attack “which may also result in permanent loss of money”.
“As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal/subversive activities, such as terror funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering acts,” it said.
It clarified that VCs are not legal tender and do not have any regulatory permission or protection in India.
“VCs are neither currencies nor coins. The Government or Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not authorised any VCs as a medium of exchange. Further, the government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as an exchange or any other kind of intermediary for any VC,” the statement said.
The government also recalled that the Reserve Bank of India had cautioned potential investors about the risks in investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoins on three earlier occasions — in December 2013, February 2017 and December 2017.
According to investigation agencies here, with the demand and price of cryptocurrencies on the rise, cybercriminals have found innovative ways to dupe those looking to invest.
Bitcoins in India, have been trading at more than Rs 10 lakh each, while people are investing amounts ranging from Rs 3,000 to several lakhs of rupees.
Due to the storage of VC's in digital format, it becomes easier for hackers to launch cyber attacks. Wikimedia Commons
Due to the storage of VC’s in digital format, it becomes easier for hackers to launch cyber attacks. Wikimedia Commons
Bitcoin values in New York, for instance, have soared nearly 1,600 per cent over the past year and currently range upwards of $15,000.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of India’s first mobile application for transacting in virtual currencies.
At a press conference here, Pluto Exchange founder and Chief Executive Bharat Verma said his company is all set to launch the country’s first app-based wallet that enables Bitcoin transactions using a mobile number.
“All other apps already in the market do transactions using bitcoin addresses, which are long and prone to error while copying. Pluto Exchange will change this scenario by enabling transactions using mobile numbers only, which are just 10 digits,” Verma said.
He also said the app would permit a range of transactions, including payments, remittances, business-to-business commerce, supply chain finance, asset management and trading.
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The Web Developer Requests Authorities Not To Leave Half Of The World In Dark

Despite the challenges, Berners-Lee said he was optimistic about the future of the internet.

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World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee speaks during an interview at the Mozilla Festival 2018 in London. VOA

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, appealed on Monday for companies and governments not to leave behind half of the world population yet to have internet access, which includes billions of women and girls.

Berners-Lee told the opening of the Europe’s largest technology conference that everyone had assumed his breakthrough in 1989, that connected humanity to technology, would lead to good things – and it had for a while.

But he said the internet was “coming of age” and going awry, with fake news and issues with privacy, hate speech and political polarization, as well as a growing digital divide between those in richer and poorer countries.

Internet
Internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans. VOA

He called on companies and governments to join a “contract for the web” by next May in order to rebuild trust in the internet and find new ways to monetize, regulate and ensure fair and affordable access to the online world.

“Everything we do … to make the web more powerful, it means we increase the digital divide,” Berners-Lee, 63, told the opening of the ninth edition of the Web Summit, dubbed “the Davos for geeks,” that attracts up to 70,000 people. “We’ve an obligation to look after both parts of the world.”

Berners-Lee highlighted studies showing that half of the world population will be online by next year – but the rate of take-up was slowing considerably, potentially leaving billions cut off from government services, education and public debate.

His concerns were echoed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who stressed the need for a “digital future that is safe and beneficial to all” to meet the United Nation’s global goals of ending inequality and extreme poverty by 2030.

Data Privacy, internet
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

In 2016 the United Nations passed a resolution to make disruption of internet access a violation of human rights.

Google’s head of philanthropy, Jacqueline Fuller, said it was huge milestone for the web to reach 30 next year, adding her company was one of 50 organizations to have already signed up to the pact developed by Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation.

Other supporters include Facebook, British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and the French government.

Data Privacy, internet
FILE – Zuckerberg Pushes Internet Connectivity In Address to World Leaders at APEC. VOA

“This is also a great opportunity for us,” Fuller told the Web Summit. “Women and girls are much less likely to have access (to the internet).”

Also Read: Google’s Waymo To Fully Test Driver-Less Cars

Despite the challenges, Berners-Lee said he was optimistic about the future of the internet.

“The ad-based funding model doesn’t have to work in the same way. It doesn’t have to create clickbait,” he said. (VOA)