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Recode Daily: How to lose $40 million of bitcoin overnight

Uber drivers go on strike, New York tenants win the right not to have a smart lock, and new legislation could put limits on digital game upselling to kids.

A picture of gold coins with a B dollar sign on them to represent bitcoin.
Hackers recently stole $40 million of bitcoin from one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, Taiwan-based Binance.
Photo Illustration by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Hackers recently stole $40 million of bitcoin from one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Luckily, customers of Taiwan-based Binance won’t incur losses since the company is paying them out using an insurance fund. But the whole debacle brings up a bigger question, as Emily Stewart writes, “If bitcoin is so safe, why does it keep getting hacked?” As Stewart explains, while bitcoin itself is based on secure blockchain ledger technology, the method for storing and saving access to it is not. Bitcoin “keys” — which are “basically, a set of letters and numbers corresponding to your bitcoin” — lose their security as soon as they’re shared with someone else. And “[t]he thing with bitcoin is that once it’s gone, it’s gone. You no longer have the key, someone else does. That same fundamental security of the blockchain that you took advantage of, the hacker now does, too.”
[Emily Stewart / Vox]

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Driver strikes didn’t break Uber — but they showed gig economy workers are mad. Demanding higher wages and benefits, thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in more than two dozen cities around the world protested yesterday. In several cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, Uber said the protests didn’t affect daily operations. But, as Shirin Ghaffary writes, “the fact that drivers protested at all on the same day in various cities around the world is a major feat of drivers’ organizing capacity — and one of the largest coordinated protests by gig economy workers in recent history.” Another win for protestors: They got several major Democratic progressive politicians on their side, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
[Shirin Ghaffary / Recode]

A New York judge ruled that tenants have the right not to use a smart lock, in a first-of-its-kind case. A group of tenants successfully settled to gain the right to use a standard lock instead of a type of smart lock, Latch, arguing that it “violated their right to privacy and amounted to tenant harassment.” The technology lets people open doors with an app as well as a keycard. With regard to privacy concerns, a Latch spokesperson told Gothamist’s Elizabeth Kim in a statement that “the software neither collects nor stores GPS data and it does not share users’ personal information with third parties for marketing purposes.” Although Kim notes that “the statement did not address whether the app collects usage data other than GPS.”
[Elizabeth Kim / Gothamist]

Forthcoming legislation could outlaw the sale of some digital goods targeted toward children. The soon-to-be-introduced Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act would make it illegal for companies to target the sale of “loot boxes,” which the Post describes as “randomized assortments of digital weapons, clothing and other items,” to minors. As the article states, Howley’s act “takes aim at a growing industry revenue stream that analysts say could be worth more than $50 billion — but one that increasingly has triggered worldwide scrutiny out of fear it fosters addictive behaviors and entices kids to gamble.” Howley pointed to the popular game Candy Crush as an example, which sells a $149.99 bundle of virtual goods including virtual currency that “make the game easier to play.”
[Tony Romm and Craig Timberg / The Washington Post]

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