Bits and stuff: Equifax, ICO tax and stock photos – Sept 9, 2017

The Equifax hack and subsequent theft of personal data from 143 million Americans is… staggering doesn’t quite seem to cover it.

“Never waste a good crisis,” said Winston Churchill, and this one brings data security front and center. We can expect to see over the next few days an increasing number of experts explaining how it could have been avoided (and no, the answer is not necessarily “the blockchain”).

It should go farther, though. The issue speaks to centralization, not only of data storage but also of financial influence. Why does Equifax need that much data? Credit scoring, yes, but why does one firm hold that kind of power? A safer construction would be to use a combination of inputs, each gathered by a different entity, with relevant information fragmented and distributed. And yes, here is where blockchain technology could play a part – a relatively decentralized system with many, smaller and more insignificant points of failure.

If, on top of it all, you can get an identity system in which the information resides with the user, and all the aggregators see is the verification that the information satisfies certain requirements (without seeing what that information is), then we are looking at a potentially secure service.

This crisis has to drive home the point that the current vertical and siloed business and information structures need to evolve. The verticality of finance – inherited from the previous generation of powerful corporations – is at odds with the liquid nature of today’s principal product, data.

It’s also a welcome reminder that all corporations should have a “we’ve been hacked” protocol in place. And it should be rehearsed regularly, because the simulated horror should be enough to remind the IT executives to make sure this doesn’t happen. If it does, at least the firm could avoid irreparable damage to its reputation by handling it with more empathy and ethics than the current management seems to be doing.

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This is interesting (from ICOs: Compelling Advantages, Real Risk, on CoinDesk):

“When a company sells equity to raise money, it doesn’t pay any income tax on the proceeds. When a company raises money through a token sale, the proceeds are treated as revenue, and therefore subject to tax.” (my emphasis)

In the US, that could equate to 40%. So, if the threat of SEC scrutiny and sanctions weren’t enough to put you off the idea of doing an ICO, there’s the fiscal efficiency of the proceeds. Not that investors would care in this get-rich-quick market… But they should.

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via giphy
via giphy

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The New York Times published a fascinating timeline of best-selling stock photos for the search term “woman”, which shows a stark trend towards less focus on beauty, more on activity. Less on serenity and more on personality. Less on youth and more on achievement.

“In 2017, based on the Getty photos most chosen by marketers and the media, to be a woman is to be on your own, physically active and undeterred by either sweat or circuit boards.”

We all know it’s not that simple, and media trends do not always reflect reality. They can influence it, though.

It’s a good time to be alive, and a good time to be a woman.

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