Using BitCoin as a Public Ledger

Using BitCoin as a Public Ledger

Interesting way to document “prior art”: create a one-way SHA256 hash of some work, then send the smallest Bitcoin amount possible to that address (use it as a wallet destination). Your hash is in the public blockchain, so you can give your document to someone else and tell them to hash it themselves, then compare to your record of the time and date.

Update: Not quite right; it’s actually a bit more more complex than that:

The document is certified via embedding its SHA256 digest in the Bitcoin blockchain. This is done by generating a valid bitcoin transaction to two specially crafted addresses which encode/contain the hash. The hash is cut in two fragments, each fragment contained in one of these addresses. The hash fragment is used as a replacement for the RIPEMD-160 hash of the public ECDSA key in the bitcoin address generation algorithm. This is why the bitcoins sent in this special transaction are unspendable, as the addresses are being generated from the document’s hash fragments instead of from a private ECDSA key.


Do Not Track in Google Chrome

Do Not Track

Shows the “Do Not Track” option in Google Chrome v.23 and up.

To turn this on, click Chrome’s Settings menu | Show advanced settings… | Privacy | “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic.”


Silent Circle’s privacy-enhancing service expected to launch later this year

The need for privacy-enhancing technologies continues. If all our communications are routinely intercepted and scrutinized, some of us will need the assurance that our good work is done without observance. Certain countries don’t like human rights workers “poking around,” for instance, or want to closely observe the movements of aid agency observers.

With that in mind, Phil Zimmermann, the original brain behind PGP, expects to launch Silent Circle later this year. The company’s main offering is a $20-a-month encryption service for voice, SMS, videoconference and e-mail traffic.


Life insurers deciding whether to use tracked Web data

Interesting. So apparently I missed that life insurers are looking at using tracked Web data (such as that collected by Acxiom) to evaluate whether or not to insure people. Of course Acxiom says that it “wouldn’t” share this info with insurers, but it makes more sense to me that they would follow the money instead, changing their rules if necessary.

Acxiom recently told investors it takes in three billion pieces of information daily as businesses seek to “monetize” information about their customers. Some retailers share information about purchases made by people, including item description, price and the person’s name.

Increasingly, information comes from people’s online behavior. Acxiom says it buys data from online publishers about what kinds of articles a subscriber reads—financial or sports, for example—and can find out if somebody’s a gourmet-food lover from their online purchases. Online marketers often tap data sources like these to target ads at Web users.


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