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The European Blockchain Partnership Finds Europe Getting Serious About Distributed Ledger Technology

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Why the European Blockchain Partnership proves Europe is getting serious about distributed ledger technology.

On April 10, 2018, 21 EU member states and Norway signed up to create the European Blockchain Partnership. Including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland, they committed themselves to “cooperate in the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy.”

Since April, a further five nations have joined the Partnership, with Italy becoming the latest to do so after it signed the Partnership’s Declaration in September. As a member, it has committed itself to helping to identify, by the end of 2018, “an initial set of cross-border digital public sector services that could be deployed through the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure.”

By bringing distributed ledger technology (DLT) to European infrastructure, the Partnership hopes to make cross-border services – such as those related to logistics and regulatory reporting – safer and more efficient. However, progress towards this goal has so far been slow and piecemeal, with the Partnership’s members having had only three meetings since April. Nonetheless, it retains ambitious aims, with the European Commission telling Cointelegraph that it wants the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) to become an international “gold standard” for large-scale DLTs.

Still deciding

So far, the Partnership’s mission is vaguely defined. While there was already agreement in April that it would work towards developing cross-border, blockchain-based public services, there is still no actual agreement on what particular services to hone in on and develop. The European Commission’s head of Digital Innovation and Blockchain, Pēteris Zilgalvis explains:

“The Partnership’s mission is defined in the Joint Declaration and it is on that mandate that we have to deliver before the end of the year. In the Joint Declaration the signatories committed to working together and with the European Commission in order to develop an EBSI that can support the delivery of cross-border digital public services in Europe. So the description of what this services’ infrastructure [EBSI] could look like is what we are currently working on.”

In other words, the Partnership’s membership is currently at the very early stage of negotiating just what kind of blockchain-based public services to develop. However, as Zilgalvis explained to Cointelegraph, it expects to have agreed on all the fundamental details by the end of the year, so that these can be used as the basis for actually building and rolling out distributed cross-border technologies.

“As stated in the Joint Declaration, by end of 2018 the Partnership must provide a set of use cases of cross-border digital public services that could be deployed through the EBSI, a set of functional and technical specifications for the EBSI and finally, a governance model describing how the EBSI will be managed.”

A global reference for blockchain

The Partnership and its members will therefore be busy for the rest of 2018, although it has only three more meetings left to hammer out the all-important details, having already had three meetings so far. According to Finland‘s representative to the Partnership, Kimmo Mäkinen, a senior advisor at the Department of Public Sector Digitalization, the most recent meeting took place on September 17. “This was the third meeting,” he tells Cointelegraph. “The main topic was to discuss about the most prominent cross-border blockchain use-cases that had been proposed by member states and by the commission.”

As for whether the Partnership will successfully decide on all the necessary parameters before the start of 2019, Mäkinen doesn’t offer confirmation. “We will have three monthly meetings by the end of this year during which we will have to agree not only on use-cases but also technical/functional requirements and governance model for European blockchain infrastructure,” he says, his use of “not only” implying that the Partnership has a more-than sizeable workload to get through before Christmas.

Still, even though three meetings and no particular end-product hardly counts as an impressive achievement, these meetings were positive for the Partnership. More importantly, they’ve revealed a strong commitment among its members towards developing blockchain technologies, as explained by Pēteris Zilgalvis:

“At these meetings we found that the Partners were extremely supportive of collective efforts to establish strong EU leadership in distributed ledger technology, drawing on the Digital Single Market framework, and that EBSI could play a very important role in achieving this objective.”

Indeed, it would appear that the European Blockchain Partnership is being used by the European Commission as a vehicle for the EU becoming a global leader on DLT.

“In the longer term, we would like EBSI to become a global reference when it comes to trusted blockchain infrastructures,” admits Zilgalvis, “a ‘gold standard’ infrastructure that is governed through a transparent multi-stakeholder organisation, meets the most advanced cybersecurity and energy efficiency standards, is scalable to accommodate different use cases, is highly-performant in terms of speed and throughput, ensures the continuity of services on the long term, integrates eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) and supports full compliance with the EU requirements on data protection (General Data Protection Regulation) and network information security.”

So even if the Partnership hasn’t really achieved anything concrete yet, its significance lies in the fact that it represents a massive vote of confidence in blockchain technology. By committing to it, and by aiming to build “highly-performant” blockchain tech, the Partnership’s 27 member nations have effectively declared that they believe DLT is here to stay and that it has genuine applicability to a range of areas.

Separately, each member is for their own purposes interested in blockchain tech from a variety of different perspectives, further testifying to blockchain’s growing status as a promising new solution to a range of problems. “Finland is interested and curious of new possibilities that are to be presented by blockchain technology,” acknowledges Kimmo Mäkinen, “in order to boost cross-border services for example in matters related to document authenticity, data exchange and identity management.”

Implementation mode in 2019?

Of course, while there’s little doubt that the Partnership’s signatories are completely serious about DLT, there still remains the unavoidable question of when, exactly, it will produce and begin introducing the platforms it was set up to build. Well, despite there not being anything absolutely definite on this front, Pēteris Zilgalvis states that we may begin seeing actual output as early as next year:

“These deliverables [functional and technical specifications, governance model] will be addressed to the political representatives who signed the Declaration, and if approved, the Partnership could move into implementation mode in 2019.”

Once again, this time frame is ambitious. But even if certain differences of opinion may need to be ironed out between members before implementation can begin, the target of 2019 shows just how confident the European Commission is that the Partnership’s member states are on the same page with regards to blockchain, which is further indicated by them signing its Declaration in the first place. If the Partnership does indeed follow through with its plans and implements blockchain-based cross-border infrastructure, this will only have positive ramifications and knock-on effects for wider blockchain adoption elsewhere. All of which means that the future of blockchain adoption in Europe looks increasingly bright.

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US: Crypto Initiative Donates Monero to Bail Out Immigrants in ICE Detention

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In order to help immigrants in ICE custody pay their immigration bonds, the Bail Bloc project mines XMR using volunteers’ computer power.

The Bail Bloc initiative has started using cryptocurrency raised through charity to help people get out of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pretrial incarceration, according to a tweet posted by a Bail Bloc co-founder Nov. 15.

ICE is a law enforcement agency of the federal government of the U.S, the mission of which is to monitor cross-border crime and illegal immigration. In 2017, the agency conducted 143,470 overall administrative arrests, 92 percent of which resulted in a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge.

In ICE detention people are required to pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate-term release, although statistically only 47 percent of those in detention are given a bond hearing. Those who cannot afford to pay the bond, or who are not granted a bond at all, must wait for their court hearing while detained, which could last from months to years.

Bail Bloc has set a goal to help charged immigrants pay their bail with money raised through cryptocurrency mining. The initiative has released an app that consumes a small portion — from 10 percent by default to 50 percent optionally — of users’ computer power to mine Monero (XMR) once it is installed.

The organization states that at the end of every month it exchanges XMR for U.S. dollars and donates the earnings to the Immigrant Bail Fund in New Haven, Connecticut. Bail Bloc has reportedly mined 44.34 XMR, which equates to $7,356.36 U.S. dollars. This sum is enough to bail out 12 people, per the organization’s website.

Bail Bloc says it chose XMR as it is an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency, meaning that consumer-level computers are able to mine the coin “in a financially viable way,” while computers designed with the sole purpose of crypto mining cannot.

ICE’s approach to immigration policy enforcement has sparked significant controversy in the U.S. In May, reports of federal authorities losing track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in their custody made headlines. As the Washington Post reported, the children had been separated from their immigrant parents. Per the policy of prosecuting “100 percent” of those crossing the border illegally, children were separated from their parents as the adults were charged with a crime.

At press time, XMR is trading at around $87, down 0.82 percent over the past 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. The coin’s market capitalization is around $1.4 billion, while its daily trading volume is about $18.9 million.

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Report: Bitcoin Scam Compromising Google and Target Accounts Came from Third Party App

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Bitcoin scammers that recently hacked Google and Target verified accounts reportedly gained access via a third-party app authorized to post content.

A recent Bitcoin scam on Twitter that compromised several major companies verified accounts came from a third-party app, tech news outlet the Next Web (TNW) reports Friday, Nov. 16, citing social media officials.

Speaking to TNW, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the attack came from an outside software provider and not from Twitter’s own system. However, the official refrained from naming the app.

The spokesperson reportedly explained that the attackers exploited a third-party marketing solution to launch a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway from several verified accounts, including Google’s G Suite and major U.S. department store retailer Target.

The information was implicitly confirmed by Target. Its representatives told TNW that the hackers used a third-party marketing app, authorized to post content on Target’s behalf.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, hackers took over G Suite and Target accounts (800,000 and 1.92 million followers, respectively) and posted malicious cryptocurrency giveaway links. The message in G Suite’s account also falsely claimed that users could make payments in G Suite using cryptocurrencies.

Moreover, in early November several verified Twitter accounts, including those of film production firm Pathe U.K. and U.S. politician Frank Pallone Jr., were breached to pose as Elon Musk. Once hackers gained control of accounts, they changed the profile picture and name in order to pose as Elon Musk and offer scammy Bitcoin giveaways.

Bitcoin scammers have already posed as Elon Musk for several times, prompting the Tesla founder to seek help from Jackson Palmer, the creator of Dogecoin (DOGE), who claimed to have invented an anti-scam script.

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TRON Launches Accelerator Program for DApp Developers

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Cryptocurrency project TRON has announced an accelerator program to support developers building decentralized apps on the TRON protocol.

Decentralized Internet project TRON (TRX) is launching a $1 million accelerator program to support developers building DApps and products on the TRON protocol, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Nov. 16.

The initiative aims to facilitate consumer adoption of blockchain technology through TRON’s ecosystem following the recent acquisition of peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent, Project Atlas, and payment service Poppy app. TRON’s protocol currently processes more than one million transactions and 600,000 wallets.

The startup will purportedly accept submissions to its accelerator through December, while the winners will be announced at TRON’s first international summit in January.

In October, TRON and China’s largest Internet search provider Baidu announced they will cooperate on cloud computing resources. The partnership between the two firms remains focused on the purchase and use of Baidu’s basic cloud computing resources, rather than being a connection “at the blockchain business level.”

Also in October, TRON’s CEO Justin Sun claimed its update dubbed Odyssey 3.1 would see it beat Ethereum on speed and EOS on cost. The changes include the launch of the TRON Virtual Machine, which would allow developers to test smart contracts before they transfer to the TRON mainnet.

As of press time, TRX is the 11th top cryptocurrency, trading at around $0.018, up by 0.27 percent on the day, according to CoinMarketCap.

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