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Oracle’s BlueKai tracks you across the web. That data spilled online – TechCrunch

Article included for those not wanting all the trackers and scripts

Oracle’s BlueKai tracks you across the web. That data spilled online – TechCrunch

Zack [email protected] / 2:30 pm GMT•June 19, 2020
Have you ever wondered why online ads appear for things that you were just thinking about?
There’s no big conspiracy. Ad tech can be creepily accurate.
Tech giant Oracle is one of a few companies in Silicon Valley that has near-perfected the art of tracking people across the internet. The company has spent a decade and billions of dollars buying startups to build its very own panopticon of users’ web browsing data.
One of those startups, BlueKai, which Oracle bought for a little over $400 million in 2014, is barely known outside marketing circles, but it amassed one of the largest banks of web tracking data outside of the federal government.
BlueKai uses website cookies and other tracking tech to follow you around the web. By knowing which websites you visit and which emails you open, marketers can use this vast amount of tracking data to infer as much about you as possible — your income, education, political views, and interests to name a few — in order to target you with ads that should match your apparent tastes. If you click, the advertisers make money.
But for a time, that web tracking data was spilling out onto the open internet because a server was left unsecured and without a password, exposing billions of records for anyone to find.
Security researcher Anurag Sen found the database and reported his finding to Oracle through an intermediary — Roi Carthy, chief executive at cybersecurity firm Hudson Rock and former TechCrunch reporter.
TechCrunch reviewed the data shared by Sen and found names, home addresses, email addresses and other identifiable data in the database. The data also revealed sensitive users’ web browsing activity — from purchases to newsletter unsubscribes.
“There’s really no telling how revealing some of this data can be,” said Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TechCrunch.
“Oracle is aware of the report made by Roi Carthy of Hudson Rock related to certain BlueKai records potentially exposed on the Internet,” said Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger. “While the initial information provided by the researcher did not contain enough information to identify an affected system, Oracle’s investigation has subsequently determined that two companies did not properly configure their services. Oracle has taken additional measures to avoid a reoccurrence of this issue.”
Oracle did not name the companies or say what those additional measures were, and declined to answer our questions or comment further.
But the sheer size of the exposed database makes this one of the largest security lapses this year.

The more it knows

BlueKai relies on vacuuming up a never-ending supply of data from a variety of sources to understand trends to deliver the most precise ads to a person’s interests.
Marketers can either tap into Oracle’s enormous bank of data, which it pulls in from credit agencies, analytics firms, and other sources of consumer data including billions of daily location data points, in order to target their ads. Or marketers can upload their own data obtained directly from consumers, such as the information you hand over when you register an account on a website or when you sign up for a company’s newsletter.
But BlueKai also uses more covert tactics like allowing websites to embed invisible pixel-sized images to collect information about you as soon as you open the page — hardware, operating system, browser and any information about the network connection.
This data — known as a web browser’s “user agent” — may not seem sensitive, but when fused together it can create a unique “fingerprint” of a person’s device, which can be used to track that person as they browse the internet.
BlueKai can also tie your mobile web browsing habits to your desktop activity, allowing it to follow you across the internet no matter which device you use.
Say a marketer wants to run a campaign trying to sell a new car model. In BlueKai’s case, it already has a category of “car enthusiasts” — and many other, more specific categories — that the marketer can use to target with ads. Anyone who’s visited a car maker’s website or a blog that includes a BlueKai tracking pixel might be categorized as a “car enthusiast.” Over time that person will be siloed into different categories under a profile that learns as much about you to target you with those ads.
The technology is far from perfect. Harvard Business Review found earlier this year that the information collected by data brokers, such as Oracle, can vary wildly in quality.
But some of these platforms have proven alarmingly accurate.
In 2012, Target mailed maternity coupons to a high school student after an in-house analytics system figured out she was pregnant — before she had even told her parents — because of the data it collected from her web browsing.
Some might argue that’s precisely what these systems are designed to do.
Jonathan Mayer, a science professor at Princeton University, told TechCrunch that BlueKai is one of the leading systems for linking data.
“If you have the browser send an email address and a tracking cookie at the same time, that’s what you need to build that link,” he said.
The end goal: the more BlueKai collects, the more it can infer about you, making it easier to target you with ads that might entice you to that magic money-making click.
But marketers can’t just log in to BlueKai and download reams of personal information from its servers, one marketing professional told TechCrunch. The data is sanitized and masked so that marketers never see names, addresses or any other personal data.
As Mayer explained: BlueKai collects personal data; it doesn’t share it with marketers.

‘No telling how revealing’

Behind the scenes, BlueKai continuously ingests and matches as much raw personal data as it can against each person’s profile, constantly enriching that profile data to make sure it’s up to date and relevant.
But it was that raw data spilling out of the exposed database.
TechCrunch found records containing details of private purchases. One record detailed how a German man, whose name we’re withholding, used a prepaid debit card to place a €10 bet on an esports betting site on April 19. The record also contained the man’s address, phone number and email address.
Another record revealed how one of the largest investment holding companies in Turkey used BlueKai to track users on its website. The record detailed how one person, who lives in Istanbul, ordered $899 worth of furniture online from a homeware store. We know because the record contained all of these details, including the buyer’s name, email address and the direct web address for the buyer’s order, no login needed.
We also reviewed a record detailing how one person unsubscribed from an email newsletter run by an electronics consumer, sent to his iCloud address. The record showed that the person may have been interested in a specific model of car dash-cam. We can even tell based on his user agent that his iPhone was out of date and needed a software update.
The more BlueKai collects, the more it can infer about you, making it easier to target you with ads that might entice you to that magic money-making click.
The data went back for months, according to Sen, who discovered the database. Some logs dated back to August 2019, he said.
“Fine-grained records of people’s web-browsing habits can reveal hobbies, political affiliation, income bracket, health conditions, sexual preferences, and — as evident here — gambling habits,” said the EFF’s Cyphers. “As we live more of our lives online, this kind of data accounts for a larger and larger portion of how we spend our time.”
Oracle declined to say if it informed those whose data was exposed about the security lapse. The company also declined to say if it had warned U.S. or international regulators of the incident.
Under California state law, companies like Oracle are required to publicly disclose data security incidents, but Oracle has not to date declared the lapse. When reached, a spokesperson for California’s attorney general’s office declined to say if Oracle had informed the office of the incident.
Under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, companies can face fines of up to 4% of their global annual turnover for flouting data protection and disclosure rules.

Trackers, trackers everywhere

BlueKai is everywhere — even when you can’t see it.
One estimate says BlueKai tracks over 1% of all web traffic — an unfathomable amount of daily data collection — and tracks some of the world’s biggest websites: Amazon, ESPN, Forbes, Glassdoor, Healthline, Levi’s, MSN.com, Rotten Tomatoes, and The New York Times. Even this very article has a BlueKai tracker because our parent company, Verizon Media, is a BlueKai partner.
But BlueKai is not alone. Nearly every website you visit contains some form of invisible tracking code that watches you as you traverse the internet.
As invasive as it is that invisible trackers are feeding your web browsing data to a gigantic database in the cloud, it’s that very same data that has kept the internet largely free for so long.
To stay free, websites use advertising to generate revenue. The more targeted the advertising, the better the revenue is supposed to be.
While the majority of web users are not naive enough to think that internet tracking does not exist, few outside marketing circles understand how much data is collected and what is done with it.
Take the Equifax data breach in 2017, which brought scathing criticism from lawmakers after it collected millions of consumers’ data without their explicit consent. Equifax, like BlueKai, relies on consumers skipping over the lengthy privacy policies that govern how websites track them.
In any case, consumers have little choice but to accept the terms. Be tracked or leave the site. That’s the trade-off with a free internet.
But there are dangers with collecting web-tracking data on millions of people.
“Whenever databases like this exist, there’s always a risk the data will end up in the wrong hands and in a position to hurt someone,” said Cyphers.
Cyphers said the data, if in the hands of someone malicious, could contribute to identity theft, phishing or stalking.
“It also makes a valuable target for law enforcement and government agencies who want to piggyback on the data gathering that Oracle already does,” he said.
Even when the data stays where it’s intended, Cyphers said these vast databases enable “manipulative advertising for things like political issues or exploitative services, and it allows marketers to tailor their messages to specific vulnerable populations,” he said.
“Everyone has different things they want to keep private, and different people they want to keep them private from,” said Cyphers. “When companies collect raw web browsing or purchase data, thousands of little details about real people’s lives get scooped up along the way.”
“Each one of those little details has the potential to put somebody at risk,” he said.
Send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849.Oracle’s BlueKai tracks you across the web. That data spilled online – TechCrunch
Zack [email protected] / 2:30 pm GMT•June 19, 2020
Have you ever wondered why online ads appear for things that you were just thinking about?
There’s no big conspiracy. Ad tech can be creepily accurate.
Tech giant Oracle is one of a few companies in Silicon Valley that has near-perfected the art of tracking people across the internet. The company has spent a decade and billions of dollars buying startups to build its very own panopticon of users’ web browsing data.
One of those startups, BlueKai, which Oracle bought for a little over $400 million in 2014, is barely known outside marketing circles, but it amassed one of the largest banks of web tracking data outside of the federal government.
BlueKai uses website cookies and other tracking tech to follow you around the web. By knowing which websites you visit and which emails you open, marketers can use this vast amount of tracking data to infer as much about you as possible — your income, education, political views, and interests to name a few — in order to target you with ads that should match your apparent tastes. If you click, the advertisers make money.
But for a time, that web tracking data was spilling out onto the open internet because a server was left unsecured and without a password, exposing billions of records for anyone to find.
Security researcher Anurag Sen found the database and reported his finding to Oracle through an intermediary — Roi Carthy, chief executive at cybersecurity firm Hudson Rock and former TechCrunch reporter.
TechCrunch reviewed the data shared by Sen and found names, home addresses, email addresses and other identifiable data in the database. The data also revealed sensitive users’ web browsing activity — from purchases to newsletter unsubscribes.
“There’s really no telling how revealing some of this data can be,” said Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TechCrunch.
“Oracle is aware of the report made by Roi Carthy of Hudson Rock related to certain BlueKai records potentially exposed on the Internet,” said Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger. “While the initial information provided by the researcher did not contain enough information to identify an affected system, Oracle’s investigation has subsequently determined that two companies did not properly configure their services. Oracle has taken additional measures to avoid a reoccurrence of this issue.”
Oracle did not name the companies or say what those additional measures were, and declined to answer our questions or comment further.
But the sheer size of the exposed database makes this one of the largest security lapses this year.

The more it knows

BlueKai relies on vacuuming up a never-ending supply of data from a variety of sources to understand trends to deliver the most precise ads to a person’s interests.
Marketers can either tap into Oracle’s enormous bank of data, which it pulls in from credit agencies, analytics firms, and other sources of consumer data including billions of daily location data points, in order to target their ads. Or marketers can upload their own data obtained directly from consumers, such as the information you hand over when you register an account on a website or when you sign up for a company’s newsletter.
But BlueKai also uses more covert tactics like allowing websites to embed invisible pixel-sized images to collect information about you as soon as you open the page — hardware, operating system, browser and any information about the network connection.
This data — known as a web browser’s “user agent” — may not seem sensitive, but when fused together it can create a unique “fingerprint” of a person’s device, which can be used to track that person as they browse the internet.
BlueKai can also tie your mobile web browsing habits to your desktop activity, allowing it to follow you across the internet no matter which device you use.
Say a marketer wants to run a campaign trying to sell a new car model. In BlueKai’s case, it already has a category of “car enthusiasts” — and many other, more specific categories — that the marketer can use to target with ads. Anyone who’s visited a car maker’s website or a blog that includes a BlueKai tracking pixel might be categorized as a “car enthusiast.” Over time that person will be siloed into different categories under a profile that learns as much about you to target you with those ads.
The technology is far from perfect. Harvard Business Review found earlier this year that the information collected by data brokers, such as Oracle, can vary wildly in quality.
But some of these platforms have proven alarmingly accurate.
In 2012, Target mailed maternity coupons to a high school student after an in-house analytics system figured out she was pregnant — before she had even told her parents — because of the data it collected from her web browsing.
Some might argue that’s precisely what these systems are designed to do.
Jonathan Mayer, a science professor at Princeton University, told TechCrunch that BlueKai is one of the leading systems for linking data.
“If you have the browser send an email address and a tracking cookie at the same time, that’s what you need to build that link,” he said.
The end goal: the more BlueKai collects, the more it can infer about you, making it easier to target you with ads that might entice you to that magic money-making click.
But marketers can’t just log in to BlueKai and download reams of personal information from its servers, one marketing professional told TechCrunch. The data is sanitized and masked so that marketers never see names, addresses or any other personal data.
As Mayer explained: BlueKai collects personal data; it doesn’t share it with marketers.

‘No telling how revealing’

Behind the scenes, BlueKai continuously ingests and matches as much raw personal data as it can against each person’s profile, constantly enriching that profile data to make sure it’s up to date and relevant.
But it was that raw data spilling out of the exposed database.
TechCrunch found records containing details of private purchases. One record detailed how a German man, whose name we’re withholding, used a prepaid debit card to place a €10 bet on an esports betting site on April 19. The record also contained the man’s address, phone number and email address.
Another record revealed how one of the largest investment holding companies in Turkey used BlueKai to track users on its website. The record detailed how one person, who lives in Istanbul, ordered $899 worth of furniture online from a homeware store. We know because the record contained all of these details, including the buyer’s name, email address and the direct web address for the buyer’s order, no login needed.
We also reviewed a record detailing how one person unsubscribed from an email newsletter run by an electronics consumer, sent to his iCloud address. The record showed that the person may have been interested in a specific model of car dash-cam. We can even tell based on his user agent that his iPhone was out of date and needed a software update.
The more BlueKai collects, the more it can infer about you, making it easier to target you with ads that might entice you to that magic money-making click.
The data went back for months, according to Sen, who discovered the database. Some logs dated back to August 2019, he said.
“Fine-grained records of people’s web-browsing habits can reveal hobbies, political affiliation, income bracket, health conditions, sexual preferences, and — as evident here — gambling habits,” said the EFF’s Cyphers. “As we live more of our lives online, this kind of data accounts for a larger and larger portion of how we spend our time.”
Oracle declined to say if it informed those whose data was exposed about the security lapse. The company also declined to say if it had warned U.S. or international regulators of the incident.
Under California state law, companies like Oracle are required to publicly disclose data security incidents, but Oracle has not to date declared the lapse. When reached, a spokesperson for California’s attorney general’s office declined to say if Oracle had informed the office of the incident.
Under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, companies can face fines of up to 4% of their global annual turnover for flouting data protection and disclosure rules.

Trackers, trackers everywhere

BlueKai is everywhere — even when you can’t see it.
One estimate says BlueKai tracks over 1% of all web traffic — an unfathomable amount of daily data collection — and tracks some of the world’s biggest websites: Amazon, ESPN, Forbes, Glassdoor, Healthline, Levi’s, MSN.com, Rotten Tomatoes, and The New York Times. Even this very article has a BlueKai tracker because our parent company, Verizon Media, is a BlueKai partner.
But BlueKai is not alone. Nearly every website you visit contains some form of invisible tracking code that watches you as you traverse the internet.
As invasive as it is that invisible trackers are feeding your web browsing data to a gigantic database in the cloud, it’s that very same data that has kept the internet largely free for so long.
To stay free, websites use advertising to generate revenue. The more targeted the advertising, the better the revenue is supposed to be.
While the majority of web users are not naive enough to think that internet tracking does not exist, few outside marketing circles understand how much data is collected and what is done with it.
Take the Equifax data breach in 2017, which brought scathing criticism from lawmakers after it collected millions of consumers’ data without their explicit consent. Equifax, like BlueKai, relies on consumers skipping over the lengthy privacy policies that govern how websites track them.
In any case, consumers have little choice but to accept the terms. Be tracked or leave the site. That’s the trade-off with a free internet.
But there are dangers with collecting web-tracking data on millions of people.
“Whenever databases like this exist, there’s always a risk the data will end up in the wrong hands and in a position to hurt someone,” said Cyphers.
Cyphers said the data, if in the hands of someone malicious, could contribute to identity theft, phishing or stalking.
“It also makes a valuable target for law enforcement and government agencies who want to piggyback on the data gathering that Oracle already does,” he said.
Even when the data stays where it’s intended, Cyphers said these vast databases enable “manipulative advertising for things like political issues or exploitative services, and it allows marketers to tailor their messages to specific vulnerable populations,” he said.
“Everyone has different things they want to keep private, and different people they want to keep them private from,” said Cyphers. “When companies collect raw web browsing or purchase data, thousands of little details about real people’s lives get scooped up along the way.”
“Each one of those little details has the potential to put somebody at risk,” he said.
Send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849.
submitted by PrivacyPostMaster to privacypostIO [link] [comments]

Why is Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc trying to pretend AXA isn't one of the top 5 "companies that control the world"? AXA relies on debt & derivatives to pretend it's not bankrupt. Million-dollar Bitcoin would destroy AXA's phony balance sheet. How much is AXA paying Greg to cripple Bitcoin?

Here was an interesting brief exchange between Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc and u/BitAlien about AXA:
https://np.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/62d2yq/why_bitcoin_is_under_attack/dfm6jt?context=3
The "non-nullc" side of the conversation has already been censored by r\bitcoin - but I had previously archived it here :)
https://archive.fo/yWnWh#selection-2613.0-2615.1
u/BitAlien says to u/nullc :
Blockstream is funded by big banks, for example, AXA.
https://blockstream.com/2016/02/02/blockstream-new-investors-55-million-series-a.html
u/nullc says to u/BitAlien :
is funded by big banks, for example, AXA
AXA is a French multinational insurance firm.
But I guess we shouldn't expect much from someone who thinks miners unilatterally control bitcoin.
Typical semantics games and hair-splitting and bullshitting from Greg.
But I guess we shouldn't expect too much honesty or even understanding from someone like Greg who thinks that miners don't control Bitcoin.
AXA-owned Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc doesn't understand how Bitcoin mining works
Mining is how you vote for rule changes. Greg's comments on BU revealed he has no idea how Bitcoin works. He thought "honest" meant "plays by Core rules." [But] there is no "honesty" involved. There is only the assumption that the majority of miners are INTELLIGENTLY PROFIT-SEEKING. - ForkiusMaximus
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5zxl2l/mining_is_how_you_vote_for_rule_changes_gregs/
AXA-owned Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc is economically illiterate
Adam Back & Greg Maxwell are experts in mathematics and engineering, but not in markets and economics. They should not be in charge of "central planning" for things like "max blocksize". They're desperately attempting to prevent the market from deciding on this. But it will, despite their efforts.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/46052e/adam_back_greg_maxwell_are_experts_in_mathematics/)
AXA-owned Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc doesn't understand how fiat works
Gregory Maxwell nullc has evidently never heard of terms like "the 1%", "TPTB", "oligarchy", or "plutocracy", revealing a childlike naïveté when he says: "‘Majority sets the rules regardless of what some minority thinks’ is the governing principle behind the fiats of major democracies."
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/44qr31/gregory_maxwell_unullc_has_evidently_never_heard/
AXA-owned Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc is toxic to Bitcoin
People are starting to realize how toxic Gregory Maxwell is to Bitcoin, saying there are plenty of other coders who could do crypto and networking, and "he drives away more talent than he can attract." Plus, he has a 10-year record of damaging open-source projects, going back to Wikipedia in 2006.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/4klqtg/people_are_starting_to_realize_how_toxic_gregory/
So here we have Greg this week, desperately engaging in his usual little "semantics" games - claiming that AXA isn't technically a bank - when the real point is that:
AXA is clearly one of the most powerful fiat finance firms in the world.
Maybe when he's talking about the hairball of C++ spaghetti code that him and his fellow devs at Core/Blockstream are slowing turning their version of Bitcoin's codebase into... in that arcane (and increasingly irrelevant :) area maybe he still can dazzle some people with his usual meaningless technically correct but essentially erroneous bullshit.
But when it comes to finance and economics, Greg is in way over his head - and in those areas, he can't bullshit anyone. In fact, pretty much everything Greg ever says about finance or economics or banks is simply wrong.
He thinks he's proved some point by claiming that AXA isn't technically a bank.
But AXA is far worse than a mere "bank" or a mere "French multinational insurance company".
AXA is one of the top-five "companies that control the world" - and now (some people think) AXA is in charge of paying for Bitcoin "development".
A recent infographic published in the German Magazine "Die Zeit" showed that AXA is indeed the second-most-connected finance company in the world - right at the rotten "core" of the "fantasy fiat" financial system that runs our world today.
Who owns the world? (1) Barclays, (2) AXA, (3) State Street Bank. (Infographic in German - but you can understand it without knowing much German: "Wem gehört die Welt?" = "Who owns the world?") AXA is the #2 company with the most economic poweconnections in the world. And AXA owns Blockstream.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5btu02/who_owns_the_world_1_barclays_2_axa_3_state/
The link to the PDF at Die Zeit in the above OP is gone now - but there's other copies online:
https://www.konsumentenschutz.ch/sks/content/uploads/2014/03/Wem-geh%C3%B6rt-die-Welt.pdfother
http://www.zeit.de/2012/23/IG-Capitalist-Network
https://archive.fo/o/EzRea/https://www.konsumentenschutz.ch/sks/content/uploads/2014/03/Wem-geh%C3%B6rt-die-Welt.pdf
Plus there's lots of other research and articles at sites like the financial magazine Forbes, or the scientific publishing site plos.org, with articles which say the same thing - all the tables and graphs show that:
AXA is consistently among the top five "companies that control everything"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2011/10/22/the-147-companies-that-control-everything/#56b72685105b
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025995
http://www98.griffith.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/handle/10072/37499/64037_1.pdf;sequence=1
https://www.outsiderclub.com/report/who-really-controls-the-world/1032
AXA is right at the rotten "core" of the world financial system. Their last CEO was even the head of the friggin' Bilderberg Group.
Blockstream is now controlled by the Bilderberg Group - seriously! AXA Strategic Ventures, co-lead investor for Blockstream's $55 million financing round, is the investment arm of French insurance giant AXA Group - whose CEO Henri de Castries has been chairman of the Bilderberg Group since 2012.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/47zfzt/blockstream_is_now_controlled_by_the_bilderberg/
So, let's get a few things straight here.
"AXA" might not be a household name to many people.
And Greg was "technically right" when he denied that AXA is a "bank" (which is basically the only kind of "right" that Greg ever is these days: "technically" :-)
But AXA is one of the most powerful finance companies in the world.
AXA was started as a French insurance company.
And now it's a French multinational insurance company.
But if you study up a bit on AXA, you'll see that they're not just any old "insurance" company.
AXA has their fingers in just about everything around the world - including a certain team of toxic Bitcoin devs who are radically trying to change Bitcoin:
And ever since AXA started throwing tens of millions of dollars in filthy fantasy fiat at a certain toxic dev named Gregory Maxwell, CTO of Blockstream, suddenly he started saying that we can't have nice things like the gradually increasing blocksizes (and gradually increasing Bitcoin prices - which fortunately tend to increase proportional to the square of the blocksize because of Metcalfe's law :-) which were some of the main reasons most of us invested in Bitcoin in the first place.
My, my, my - how some people have changed!
Greg Maxwell used to have intelligent, nuanced opinions about "max blocksize", until he started getting paid by AXA, whose CEO is head of the Bilderberg Group - the legacy financial elite which Bitcoin aims to disintermediate. Greg always refuses to address this massive conflict of interest. Why?
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/4mlo0z/greg_maxwell_used_to_have_intelligent_nuanced/
Previously, Greg Maxwell u/nullc (CTO of Blockstream), Adam Back u/adam3us (CEO of Blockstream), and u/theymos (owner of r\bitcoin) all said that bigger blocks would be fine. Now they prefer to risk splitting the community & the network, instead of upgrading to bigger blocks. What happened to them?
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5dtfld/previously_greg_maxwell_unullc_cto_of_blockstream/
"Even a year ago I said I though we could probably survive 2MB" - nullc
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/43mond/even_a_year_ago_i_said_i_though_we_could_probably/
Core/Blockstream supporters like to tiptoe around the facts a lot - hoping we won't pay attention to the fact that they're getting paid by a company like AXA, or hoping we'll get confused if Greg says that AXA isn't a bank but rather an insurance firm.
But the facts are the facts, whether AXA is an insurance giant or a bank:
  • AXA would be exposed as bankrupt in a world dominated by a "counterparty-free" asset class like Bitcoin.
  • AXA pays Greg's salary - and Greg is one of the major forces who has been actively attempting to block Bitcoin's on-chain scaling - and there's no way getting around the fact that artificially small blocksizes do lead to artificially low prices.
AXA kinda reminds me of AIG
If anyone here was paying attention when the cracks first started showing in the world fiat finance system around 2008, you may recall the name of another mega-insurance company, that was also one of the most connected finance companies in the world: AIG.
Falling Giant: A Case Study Of AIG
What was once the unthinkable occurred on September 16, 2008. On that date, the federal government gave the American International Group - better known as AIG (NYSE:AIG) - a bailout of $85 billion. In exchange, the U.S. government received nearly 80% of the firm's equity. For decades, AIG was the world's biggest insurer, a company known around the world for providing protection for individuals, companies and others. But in September, the company would have gone under if it were not for government assistance.
http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/09/american-investment-group-aig-bailout.asp
Why the Fed saved AIG and not Lehman
Bernanke did say he believed an AIG failure would be "catastrophic," and that the heavy use of derivatives made the AIG problem potentially more explosive.
An AIG failure, thanks to the firm's size and its vast web of trading partners, "would have triggered an intensification of the general run on international banking institutions," Bernanke said.
http://fortune.com/2010/09/02/why-the-fed-saved-aig-and-not-lehman/
Just like AIG, AXA is a "systemically important" finance company - one of the biggest insurance companies in the world.
And (like all major banks and insurance firms), AXA is drowning in worthless debt and bets (derivatives).
Most of AXA's balance sheet would go up in a puff of smoke if they actually did "mark-to-market" (ie, if they actually factored in the probability of the counterparties of their debts and bets actually coming through and paying AXA the full amount it says on the pretty little spreadsheets on everyone's computer screens).
In other words: Like most giant banks and insurers, AXA has mainly debt and bets. They rely on counterparties to pay them - maybe, someday, if the whole system doesn't go tits-up by then.
In other words: Like most giant banks and insurers, AXA does not hold the "private keys" to their so-called wealth :-)
So, like most giant multinational banks and insurers who spend all their time playing with debts and bets, AXA has been teetering on the edge of the abyss since 2008 - held together by chewing gum and paper clips and the miracle of Quantitative Easing - and also by all the clever accounting tricks that instantly become possible when money can go from being a gleam in a banker's eye to a pixel on a screen with just a few keystrokes - that wonderful world of "fantasy fiat" where central bankers ninja-mine billions of dollars in worthless paper and pixels into existence every month - and then for some reason every other month they have to hold a special "emergency central bankers meeting" to deal with the latest financial crisis du jour which "nobody could have seen coming".
AIG back in 2008 - much like AXA today - was another "systemically important" worldwide mega-insurance giant - with most of its net worth merely a pure fantasy on a spreadsheet and in a four-color annual report - glossing over the ugly reality that it's all based on toxic debts and derivatives which will never ever be paid off.
Mega-banks Mega-insurers like AXA are addicted to the never-ending "fantasy fiat" being injected into the casino of musical chairs involving bets upon bets upon bets upon bets upon bets - counterparty against counterparty against counterparty against counterparty - going 'round and 'round on the big beautiful carroussel where everyone is waiting on the next guy to pay up - and meanwhile everyone's cooking their books and sweeping their losses "under the rug", offshore or onto the taxpayers or into special-purpose vehicles - while the central banks keep printing up a trillion more here and a trillion more there in worthless debt-backed paper and pixels - while entire nations slowly sink into the toxic financial sludge of ever-increasing upayable debt and lower productivity and higher inflation, dragging down everyone's economies, enslaving everyone to increasing worktime and decreasing paychecks and unaffordable healthcare and education, corrupting our institutions and our leaders, distorting our investment and "capital allocation" decisions, inflating housing and healthcare and education beyond everyone's reach - and sending people off to die in endless wars to prop up the deadly failing Saudi-American oil-for-arms Petrodollar ninja-mined currency cartel.
In 2008, when the multinational insurance company AIG (along with their fellow gambling buddies at the multinational investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehmans) almost went down the drain due to all their toxic gambling debts, they also almost took the rest of the world with them.
And that's when the "core" dev team working for the miners central banks (the Fed, ECB, BoE, BoJ - who all report to the "central bank of central banks" BIS in Basel) - started cranking up their mining rigs printing presses and keyboards and pixels to the max, unilaterally manipulating the "issuance schedule" of their shitcoins and flooding the world with tens of trillions in their worthless phoney fiat to save their sorry asses after all their toxic debts and bad bets.
AXA is at the very rotten "core" of this system - like AIG, a "systemically important" (ie, "too big to fail") mega-gigantic multinational insurance company - a fantasy fiat finance firm quietly sitting at the rotten core of our current corrupt financial system, basically impacting everything and everybody on this planet.
The "masters of the universe" from AXA are the people who go to Davos every year wining and dining on lobster and champagne - part of that elite circle that prints up endless money which they hand out to their friends while they continue to enslave everyone else - and then of course they always turn around and tell us we can't have nice things like roads and schools and healthcare because "austerity". (But somehow we always can have plenty of wars and prisons and climate change and terrorism because for some weird reason our "leaders" seem to love creating disasters.)
The smart people at AXA are probably all having nightmares - and the smart people at all the other companies in that circle of "too-big-to-fail" "fantasy fiat finance firms" are probably also having nightmares - about the following very possible scenario:
If Bitcoin succeeds, debt-and-derivatives-dependent financial "giants" like AXA will probably be exposed as having been bankrupt this entire time.
All their debts and bets will be exposed as not being worth the paper and pixels they were printed on - and at that point, in a cryptocurrency world, the only real money in the world will be "counterparty-free" assets ie cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin - where all you need to hold is your own private keys - and you're not dependent on the next deadbeat debt-ridden fiat slave down the line coughing up to pay you.
Some of those people at AXA and the rest of that mafia are probably quietly buying - sad that they missed out when Bitcoin was only $10 or $100 - but happy they can still get it for $1000 while Blockstream continues to suppress the price - and who knows, what the hell, they might as well throw some of that juicy "banker's bonus" into Bitcoin now just in case it really does go to $1 million a coin someday - which it could easily do with just 32MB blocks, and no modifications to the code (ie, no SegWit, no BU, no nuthin', just a slowly growing blocksize supporting a price growing roughly proportional to the square of the blocksize - like Bitcoin always actually did before the economically illiterate devs at Blockstream imposed their centrally planned blocksize on our previously decentralized system).
Meanwhile, other people at AXA and other major finance firms might be taking a different tack: happy to see all the disinfo and discord being sown among the Bitcoin community like they've been doing since they were founded in late 2014 - buying out all the devs, dumbing down the community to the point where now even the CTO of Blockstream Greg Mawxell gets the whitepaper totally backwards.
Maybe Core/Blockstream's failure-to-scale is a feature not a bug - for companies like AXA.
After all, AXA - like most of the major banks in the Europe and the US - are now basically totally dependent on debt and derivatives to pretend they're not already bankrupt.
Maybe Blockstream's dead-end road-map (written up by none other than Greg Maxwell), which has been slowly strangling Bitcoin for over two years now - and which could ultimately destroy Bitcoin via the poison pill of Core/Blockstream's SegWit trojan horse - maybe all this never-ending history of obstrution and foot-dragging and lying and failure from Blockstream is actually a feature and not a bug, as far as AXA and their banking buddies are concerned.
The insurance company with the biggest exposure to the 1.2 quadrillion dollar (ie, 1200 TRILLION dollar) derivatives casino is AXA. Yeah, that AXA, the company whose CEO is head of the Bilderberg Group, and whose "venture capital" arm bought out Bitcoin development by "investing" in Blockstream.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/4k1r7v/the_insurance_company_with_the_biggest_exposure/
If Bitcoin becomes a major currency, then tens of trillions of dollars on the "legacy ledger of fantasy fiat" will evaporate, destroying AXA, whose CEO is head of the Bilderbergers. This is the real reason why AXA bought Blockstream: to artificially suppress Bitcoin volume and price with 1MB blocks.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/4r2pw5/if_bitcoin_becomes_a_major_currency_then_tens_of/
AXA has even invented some kind of "climate catastrophe" derivative - a bet where if the global warming destroys an entire region of the world, the "winner" gets paid.
Of course, derivatives would be something attractive to an insurance company - since basically most of their business is about making and taking bets.
So who knows - maybe AXA is "betting against" Bitcoin - and their little investment in the loser devs at Core/Blockstream is part of their strategy for "winning" that bet.
This trader's price & volume graph / model predicted that we should be over $10,000 USD/BTC by now. The model broke in late 2014 - when AXA-funded Blockstream was founded, and started spreading propaganda and crippleware, centrally imposing artificially tiny blocksize to suppress the volume & price.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5obe2m/this_traders_price_volume_graph_model_predicted/
"I'm angry about AXA scraping some counterfeit money out of their fraudulent empire to pay autistic lunatics millions of dollars to stall the biggest sociotechnological phenomenon since the internet and then blame me and people like me for being upset about it." ~ u/dresden_k
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5xjkof/im_angry_about_axa_scraping_some_counterfeit/
Bitcoin can go to 10,000 USD with 4 MB blocks, so it will go to 10,000 USD with 4 MB blocks. All the censorship & shilling on r\bitcoin & fantasy fiat from AXA can't stop that. BitcoinCORE might STALL at 1,000 USD and 1 MB blocks, but BITCOIN will SCALE to 10,000 USD and 4 MB blocks - and beyond
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5jgkxv/bitcoin_can_go_to_10000_usd_with_4_mb_blocks_so/
AXA/Blockstream are suppressing Bitcoin price at 1000 bits = 1 USD. If 1 bit = 1 USD, then Bitcoin's market cap would be 15 trillion USD - close to the 82 trillion USD of "money" in the world. With Bitcoin Unlimited, we can get to 1 bit = 1 USD on-chain with 32MB blocksize ("Million-Dollar Bitcoin")
https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/5u72va/axablockstream_are_suppressing_bitcoin_price_at/
Anyways, people are noticing that it's a little... odd... the way Greg Maxwell seems to go to such lengths, in order to cover up the fact that bigger blocks have always correlated to higher price.
He seems to get very... uncomfortable... when people start pointing out that:
It sure looks like AXA is paying Greg Maxwell to suppress the Bitcoin price.
Greg Maxwell has now publicly confessed that he is engaging in deliberate market manipulation to artificially suppress Bitcoin adoption and price. He could be doing this so that he and his associates can continue to accumulate while the price is still low (1 BTC = $570, ie 1 USD can buy 1750 "bits")
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/4wgq48/greg_maxwell_has_now_publicly_confessed_that_he/
Why did Blockstream CTO u/nullc Greg Maxwell risk being exposed as a fraud, by lying about basic math? He tried to convince people that Bitcoin does not obey Metcalfe's Law (claiming that Bitcoin price & volume are not correlated, when they obviously are). Why is this lie so precious to him?
https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/57dsgz/why_did_blockstream_cto_unullc_greg_maxwell_risk/
I don't know how a so-called Bitcoin dev can sleep at night knowing he's getting paid by fucking AXA - a company that would probably go bankrupt if Bitcoin becomes a major world currency.
Greg must have to go through some pretty complicated mental gymastics to justify in his mind what everyone else can see: he is a fucking sellout to one of the biggest fiat finance firms in the world - he's getting paid by (and defending) a company which would probably go bankrupt if Bitcoin ever achieved multi-trillion dollar market cap.
Greg is literally getting paid by the second-most-connected "systemically important" (ie, "too big to fail") finance firm in the world - which will probably go bankrupt if Bitcoin were ever to assume its rightful place as a major currency with total market cap measured in the tens of trillions of dollars, destroying most of the toxic sludge of debt and derivatives keeping a bank financial giant like AXA afloat.
And it may at first sound batshit crazy (until You Do The Math), but Bitcoin actually really could go to one-million-dollars-a-coin in the next 8 years or so - without SegWit or BU or anything else - simply by continuing with Satoshi's original 32MB built-in blocksize limit and continuing to let miners keep blocks as small as possible to satisfy demand while avoiding orphans - a power which they've had this whole friggin' time and which they've been managing very well thank you.
Bitcoin Original: Reinstate Satoshi's original 32MB max blocksize. If actual blocks grow 54% per year (and price grows 1.542 = 2.37x per year - Metcalfe's Law), then in 8 years we'd have 32MB blocks, 100 txns/sec, 1 BTC = 1 million USD - 100% on-chain P2P cash, without SegWit/Lightning or Unlimited
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5uljaf/bitcoin_original_reinstate_satoshis_original_32mb/
Meanwhile Greg continues to work for Blockstream which is getting tens of millions of dollars from a company which would go bankrupt if Bitcoin were to actually scale on-chain to 32MB blocks and 1 million dollars per coin without all of Greg's meddling.
So Greg continues to get paid by AXA, spreading his ignorance about economics and his lies about Bitcoin on these forums.
In the end, who knows what Greg's motivations are, or AXA's motivations are.
But one thing we do know is this:
Satoshi didn't put Greg Maxwell or AXA in charge of deciding the blocksize.
The tricky part to understand about "one CPU, one vote" is that it does not mean there is some "pre-existing set of rules" which the miners somehow "enforce" (despite all the times when you hear some Core idiot using words like "consensus layer" or "enforcing the rules").
The tricky part about really understanding Bitcoin is this:
Hashpower doesn't just enforce the rules - hashpower makes the rules.
And if you think about it, this makes sense.
It's the only way Bitcoin actually could be decentralized.
It's kinda subtle - and it might be hard for someone to understand if they've been a slave to centralized authorities their whole life - but when we say that Bitcoin is "decentralized" then what it means is:
We all make the rules.
Because if hashpower doesn't make the rules - then you'd be right back where you started from, with some idiot like Greg Maxwell "making the rules" - or some corrupt too-big-to-fail bank debt-and-derivative-backed "fantasy fiat financial firm" like AXA making the rules - by buying out a dev team and telling us that that dev team "makes the rules".
But fortunately, Greg's opinions and ignorance and lies don't matter anymore.
Miners are waking up to the fact that they've always controlled the blocksize - and they always will control the blocksize - and there isn't a single goddamn thing Greg Maxwell or Blockstream or AXA can do to stop them from changing it - whether the miners end up using BU or Classic or BitcoinEC or they patch the code themselves.
The debate is not "SHOULD THE BLOCKSIZE BE 1MB VERSUS 1.7MB?". The debate is: "WHO SHOULD DECIDE THE BLOCKSIZE?" (1) Should an obsolete temporary anti-spam hack freeze blocks at 1MB? (2) Should a centralized dev team soft-fork the blocksize to 1.7MB? (3) OR SHOULD THE MARKET DECIDE THE BLOCKSIZE?
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5pcpec/the_debate_is_not_should_the_blocksize_be_1mb/
Core/Blockstream are now in the Kübler-Ross "Bargaining" phase - talking about "compromise". Sorry, but markets don't do "compromise". Markets do COMPETITION. Markets do winner-takes-all. The whitepaper doesn't talk about "compromise" - it says that 51% of the hashpower determines WHAT IS BITCOIN.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/5y9qtg/coreblockstream_are_now_in_the_k%C3%BCblerross/
Clearing up Some Widespread Confusions about BU
Core deliberately provides software with a blocksize policy pre-baked in.
The ONLY thing BU-style software changes is that baking in. It refuses to bundle controversial blocksize policy in with the rest of the code it is offering. It unties the blocksize settings from the dev teams, so that you don't have to shop for both as a packaged unit.
The idea is that you can now have Core software security without having to submit to Core blocksize policy.
Running Core is like buying a Sony TV that only lets you watch Fox, because the other channels are locked away and you have to know how to solder a circuit board to see them. To change the channel, you as a layman would have to switch to a different TV made by some other manufacturer, who you may not think makes as reliable of TVs.
This is because Sony believes people should only ever watch Fox "because there are dangerous channels out there" or "because since everyone needs to watch the same channel, it is our job to decide what that channel is."
So the community is stuck with either watching Fox on their nice, reliable Sony TVs, or switching to all watching ABC on some more questionable TVs made by some new maker (like, in 2015 the XT team was the new maker and BIP101 was ABC).
BU (and now Classic and BitcoinEC) shatters that whole bizarre paradigm. BU is a TV that lets you tune to any channel you want, at your own risk.
The community is free to converge on any channel it wants to, and since everyone in this analogy wants to watch the same channel they will coordinate to find one.
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/602vsy/clearing_up_some_widespread_confusions_about_bu/
Adjustable blocksize cap (ABC) is dangerous? The blocksize cap has always been user-adjustable. Core just has a really shitty inferface for it.
What does it tell you that Core and its supporters are up in arms about a change that merely makes something more convenient for users and couldn't be prevented from happening anyway? Attacking the adjustable blocksize feature in BU and Classic as "dangerous" is a kind of trap, as it is an implicit admission that Bitcoin was being protected only by a small barrier of inconvenience, and a completely temporary one at that. If this was such a "danger" or such a vector for an "attack," how come we never heard about it before?
Even if we accept the improbable premise that inconvenience is the great bastion holding Bitcoin together and the paternalistic premise that stakeholders need to be fed consensus using a spoon of inconvenience, we still must ask, who shall do the spoonfeeding?
Core accepts these two amazing premises and further declares that Core alone shall be allowed to do the spoonfeeding. Or rather, if you really want to you can be spoonfed by other implementation clients like libbitcoin and btcd as long as they are all feeding you the same stances on controversial consensus settings as Core does.
It is high time the community see central planning and abuse of power for what it is, and reject both:
  • Throw off central planning by removing petty "inconvenience walls" (such as baked-in, dev-recommended blocksize caps) that interfere with stakeholders coordinating choices amongst themselves on controversial matters ...
  • Make such abuse of power impossible by encouraging many competing implementations to grow and blossom
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/617gf9/adjustable_blocksize_cap_abc_is_dangerous_the/
So it's time for Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell u/nullc to get over his delusions of grandeur - and to admit he's just another dev, with just another opinion.
He also needs to look in the mirror and search his soul and confront the sad reality that he's basically turned into a sellout working for a shitty startup getting paid by the 5th (or 4th or 2nd) "most connected", "systemically important", "too-big-to-fail", debt-and-derivative-dependent multinational bank mega-insurance giant in the world AXA - a major fiat firm firm which is terrified of going bankrupt just like that other mega-insurnace firm AIG already almost did before the Fed rescued them in 2008 - a fiat finance firm which is probably very conflicted about Bitcoin, at the very least.
Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell is getting paid by the most systemically important bank mega-insurance giant in the world, sitting at the rotten "core" of the our civilization's corrupt, dying fiat cartel.
Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell is getting paid by a mega-bank mega-insurance company that will probably go bankrupt if and when Bitcoin ever gets a multi-trillion dollar market cap, which it can easily do with just 32MB blocks and no code changes at all from clueless meddling devs like him.
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[Table] IAmA: IAm Sheila Norman-Culp, leader of the AP “Dirty Game” investigation into match-fixing in soccer. AMA

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Date: 2013-02-20
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Questions Answers
Did you see that ludicrous display last night? I assume u are talking re Arsenal. yes, yes yes. Not as gut-slamming bad as Saturday's disaster against Blackburn, but no fun for sure.
What was the most surprising facet of the story that you discovered? I was shocked at the Amazonian river of money that sports betting generates... the Interpol chief Ron Noble says several billion euros a year, an ex-FIFA official has said up to $500 billion a year. BILLION...! if you are a criminal mastermind, all you have to do is use some fixed games to deliver a tiny sliver of that and you will be wealthier than you ever imagined. That's about the yearly GNP of Switzerland, no slouch economy.
This is the crazy thing to me, how many people are betting on what are ultimately not high level events. I would like to think that high levels of betting on one side of a small matchup could be observed and regulated. Until lately, no one thought to look for match-fixing in the soccer wilderness. but extremely low level games in Finland, Norway and Canada that were fixed proved that theory wrong. for fixers, best thing is virgin territory not already claimed by other fixers...
Which mobs were most involved? Turkish? Russian? Romanian? Prolly the shorter list would be what mobs DON'T want to get involved with match-fixing... AP talked to Turkish commentators who said fixing allegations have cropped up every year for at least 40 years, and even Turkish prosecutors in court documents noted that mobs had infiltrated Turkish soccer since at least 1980... As for Russia, one illegal Asian betting den that an AP reporter visited wouldn't even touch bets for Russia's 2nd division (or Greece's for that matter). Even illegal sites know when to run! Italy's match-fixing has produced over $2.6 billion for the Camorra and the Mafia. And since the vast majority of sports betting money originates in Asia, Asian crime gangs are said to be intimately involved in fixing games.
Where in Asia is the money coming from? It's coming both from billions of small bettors (betting is a way of life i many Asian countries) and from Asian crime gangs who are recycling dirty money to launder it.
How is the research going on the dinamo zagreb - olimpique game, where olimpique scored just enough goals to kick Ajax out of the champions league? Ah yes, where a zagreb player winked on a YouTube clip. plenty of suspicions, Ajax started howling immediately, no good evidence ever emerged. was about the same time in which Croatian first league (where dinamo played) was riddled with match-fixing (see our story about Croatia Seveste player Mario Cizmek) but dinamo never implicated in those trials.
To borrow from Grantland's Brian Phillips, "How #*%!ed is the beautiful game?" It's more &&#$ than top officials want to publicly admit. There are large areas of the world where football has been not only infiltrated by criminals but is being run by criminals. Last year in China, two ex-chiefs of its FA (football association for American fans) got 10 1/2 years in prison for corruption. In 2011, the national TV channel in China REFUSED to broadcast matches from the Chinese League due to widespread match-fixing. I can't imagine the reax here in London if Sky or the BBC refused to broadcast Premier League games...
What is the highest level that you believe some form of match fixing has taken place? European competition? WC qualifying? Where is match fixing most prevalent? Well, our FIFA correspondent Graham Dunbar says that depends if you include the 1982 World Cup West Germany-Austria game, which appeared to be a deal with the teams. FIFA changed its rules after that so games at the end of rounds start simultaneously. More recently you have the 2010 WC qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland ... and Latam types will always debate whether the WC 1978 Argentina 6, peru 0 was fixed, sent host Argentina into final...
So...Juventus. As a fan, I just have to know. How involved are they in match fixing? They're always surrounding by rumors of it. Hmmm. where to start? well, going way back, juventus reputedly bough the ref in the 193 European Cup semifinal, according to one of our top football guys... and they were pretty front and center in Italy's 2006 match-fixing scandal, where they were regulated to Serie B (2nd division), got 9 points deducted, got hit by a massive fine, got stripped of their 2006-07 league titles, got tossed out of the Champions League for a year. Their club president at the time was fined and banned from the sport for five years. Their current coach, Antonio Conte, just got back in December from a 4-month FIFA ban for a separate match-fixing allegation. As Premier Mario Monti said, maybe Italian football should just shut down for a few years to get rid of that corruption thing...
I have to ask. Have you or anyone in your agency been approached or threatened as a result of your investigations? Gotta give kudos here to Chris Brummett, our Vietnam bureau chief, who visited a Wild West betting boomtown on the border of Cambodia. Going around illegal Asian betting dens, talking with bettors about fixed matches, looking for hints of Asian triad involvement. Not a place that you could take TV cameras or where bettors would let u take a picture, that's for sure. And when I was filming a TV segment at a Zagreb stadium with a player convicted of match-fixing, all of a sudden we saw that a photog with a long lens was zooming in on us. The guy came over to see what we were doing, I made sure not to speak a word of English and our photographer Darko talked to him. After that, Darko said "it's time to go." When a photog who just got back from Syria says its time to go, u go.
Do you think that this type of match fixing also extends into American sports such as Major League Baseball or the National Football League? I think of a game like the Super Bowl with all the money bet on it and I can't help but wonder if games are often fixed or the outcome affected artificially. Super Bowl betting is big in the US but is tiny in relation to global soccer betting. And the Super Bowl has one big thing that keeps it from being fixed -- very high player salaries. Players in countries like Croatia are match-fixing sometimes for as little as 2500 euros ($3300). Major league baseball salaries and NFL salaries are too high -- and you need to involve too many players to ensure a rock-solid fix. In soccer, the goalie alone has enough influence to fix a game by himself.
Where do the criminal gangs get the action on? Betfair? For a blow-by-blow account of how it all goes down, check out these links: Player who rues getting involved in match-fixing: Link to apne.ws Unwritten rules of match-fixing: Link to apne.ws
How exactly does it work? The players just play terribly when instructed? The criminals have money on the over? In terms of the betting, there's about five-six levels of betting in Asia, which leads from local illegal betting shops that deal in cash to next level, regional betting houses, still in cash, to next level, super betting sites, to online betting sites that take credit cards and are openly operating. Asian betting sites don't know their customers, so its easier to disguise large wagers as many small ones. European betting sites know their customers via credit cards, but criminals can use fake credit cards. anyone who knows about a fixed game can bet on whichever betting site offers the odds
Where are most of these criminal organizations based? What country? Are international matches ever fixed(England vs San Marino or something) or just club matches? Actually 'friendlies' between two nations are a prime target for fixers, because football associations can hire agencies (some of which later turn out to be fronts for fixers) to arrange the games and give a cut of the proceeds (or even bribes) to corrupt FA officials Just imagine, in a friendly you can get world-class talent for free and they can generate gobs of TV revenues. some suspect friendlies in recent times: Nigeria-Argentina 2011, one or more South Africa friendlies right before the World Cup, Bolivia-Latvia 2011, Bulgaria-Estonia 2011, several Latam games involving Venezuela and Bolivia. These are all men's games, so far no whiff of suspicion among women's friendlies.
Is there any suspicion of fixing in women's soccer in the past Olympics? It has bothered a lot of people the way the gold medal game finished. It didn't make any sense at all. Edit: I did mean semi final. My bad. No, so far no reports of match-fixing in any women's games. in fact, some of the bettors AP interviewed in the illegal Cambodian den were at the time betting on live women's U-20 game between New Zealand and Japan just because they felt it was not fixed.
Has there been any instances when you had suspicion BEFORE a match? What do you think about the recent EUROPOL expose about the 380 european matches? What does only 1 english match (liverpool v debrecen)(albeit english team not involved) say about how things are done in uk v thing elsewhere.what is it that they are doing right/others doing wrong? Me and another AP reporter have visited a betting monitoring site that runs 31,000 games thru computer models to see if they may be fixed. Companies like that can often see if games are suspicious up to two days before a match _ ie they know if XXX amount bet on a Italian league game is normal or way off. They also keep tabs on 110,000 players, teams, refs and officials and give them match-fixing credit scores... they have seen where a suspicious player changes teams and infects a previously untouched team with his knowlege of fixing... Only one match in England reflects high premier league salaries that protect the players and the game. But bet monitors do have one person on their top 20 'to watch' match-fixing suspicions list that lives in the UK.
What is the best part about your job? The sheer variety. I mean there are some things we can plan for _ we know when the 2012 London Olympics will start _ but you never know each day what will happen. Will an Icelandic volcano erupt and blow the travel plans of 10 million people to bits? Or maybe a meteor will hit Russia? i am constantly amazed.
How has the series been received by soccefootball officials? It seems to expose some dirty laundry and gotten news and TV pickups across the globe. Yes, we were very happy with the wide range of media that picked up the stories _ everything from papers in Thailand to ESPN and Sports Illustrated to non-sports outlets like Huffpost and Salon.com.
Which team do you support and who is your favorite player? Well, i live and work now in north London, so i would be crucified if I didnt keep up with Arsenal (condolences will be accepted here today). Favorite player, hmm. got two. Fernando Torres because i was living in Zurich during Euro 2008 (he was electric then) and he looks just like my hubby did years ago with his freckles; Robin van Persie now because the man just dances on the field, a joy to watch.
Fernando Torres is my favorite too, and believe me he will be electric again! and another question, what is the most memorable match you have ever watched live at a stadium? At a family level, I brought my ten-year-old daughter and her soccer team to see the American women play at Giants stadium in NJ when the US hosted the Women's World Cup in 1999... Mia Hamm and her buddies really inspired a generation.
Do you see any problem/conflict with betting companies (such as Bwin) being significant sponsors of the game? Betting companies are always going to advertise next to matches, its the smart operating model for their business. but it is interesting how they can be in severe denial about match-fixing. I went to a London betting conference in Nov, and a top representative from Ladbrokes insisted to me that 'maybe 5-6' games were fixed a year. he claimed that some betting monitoring companies have an incentive to say there are hundreds of possibly fixed games a year just so they would get contracts from FIFA, UEFA, national leagues. On the other hand, his own industry has a HUGE interest in not talking about fixed games -- who is going to bet if they think things are fixed? he did me a big favor though - AP reporters could not get into the monitoring sites until we reported his ludicrous comment to them.
How does it start? Does someone from the criminal organization approach a player in a shady alley? Do players that fix games do so repeatedly? Do multiple players on a team need to be bought to pull off the fix? And finally, how do the criminal organizations actually make money off fixed games? Presumably by placing the bets they've arranged, but don't the people taking their bets get suspicious? What i'm going to do is give u some link to our stories that explain all this. ironically, match-fixers often groom players just like pedophiles groom targets, according to a major 2012 study on sports corruption. Players can be seduced into fixing by other coaches or players or agents. Or they can be ordered to fix by their corrupt soccer club bosses. Or they can have no idea a game is fixed because the refs were bought off instead. so many ways to match-fix...!
How in the world would FIFA (or possibly another organization) go about fixing this or at least starting to fix it? Is the problem already too deep that anything other than a complete scrub of all teams and parties involved would fail? And could the sport even survive something like that or would it be best for the game if everyone just operated like business as usual? FIFA's latest anti-match-fixing project is to educate players and refs about the problem. A noble idea, for sure, one that no one can find fault with. but it's kinda like warning your kids not to play with matches when your kitchen is already on fire and that may burn down your whole house. Time to get out the big firehose. Let's not forget how doping has driven sponsors and TV revenues away from cycling or even track. And soccer authorities also have another problem -- their own officials may be the ones driving the fixing. A major sports corruption report last year even gave that a label "chairman-to-chairman" fixing. in turkey last year, 93 people went on trial for match-fixing, and only 14 were players. I think the best model to emulate is germany's, its FA has a omsbudman where players, refs, anyone can call to report fixing worries anonymously.
Is it anyway connected to the fixed cricket games and why is this not getting as much coverage considering soccer is a much larger sport? And do you think the Ireland v France world cup 2010 qualifier was fixed, where Thiery Henry blatantly hand-balled to knock Ireland out of the competition? That was one darn obvious handball but absolutely no suggestion of fixing in that. as we say in our Dirty Game series, referees and players can perform poorly for all sorts of legitimate reasons. Gotta say, American fans could never stomach bad ref calls like that, that's why they love NFL instant replay. the concept that such a bad call could knock a team out... it's why the NFL had to end its referee lockout...
It's amazing how deep seeded the corruption is in the sport. Do you know how much money was made globally from the match fixing (an estimate)?? FIFA has estimated between $5 billion and $15 billion a year. not chump change.
I think it's more spot-fixing than match-fixing, right? Or at least the higher up the leagues go, the more it deviates towards spot rather than match. If you got any knowlege of this, let FIFA/UEFA/the national leagues know. AP took a deep dive into fixing in Croatia's first division, (let me tell u google translator is a mess with croatian court transcripts) and found both match and spot fixing in the same games. one sports expert, David Forrest of University of Salford, says that's a great way for gangs to increase revenues, you get to place two-three-four bets on the same fixed game.
Do you think that the punishment for participants should be more severe the further up the ladder the investigation goes? That is, should the first-year first-teamer found to have been involved be given less of a penalty than the national team star? Or should a message be sent with uniform penalties for even the least involvement? Hmm. it's kinda like doping in that you need zero tolerance. That said, its clear that match-fixers target players like lions on the savannah, picking off the young (easy to manipulate) the old (nearing the end of their employment, fearing what's next) and the weak (those with betting problems or financial difficulties. Young players lured into fixing by older players should get lesser sentences if it's found that they were forced or pressured into it. Older players (or refs hitting age limits) should get harsher penalties because they absolutely knew what they were doing. national stars who fix bring shame upon an entire nation but the fixing penalities should be the same no matter what the league.
Do you feel like, historically, there has been more corruption in Italian leagues, or is it more a matter of the Italian investigations being more frequent and successful in revealing the corruption and making cases stick? There's no question that Italy has had repeated, major match-fixing instances at least since 2005. And each case seems to bring new amazing allegations. My all time favorite is the goalie who wanted to fix a game, so he drugs the water bottles of his teammates to play poorly. they stink, lose the game, and one even crashes his car afterward. Since Italy takes drunk driving quite seriously, the driver gets a blood test which shows he is full of sedatives, and the whole fixing operation is unveiled. can't make this up. I give plenty of kudos to Italian prosecutor Roberto Di Martino but the country has had plenty of corruption issues in all walks of life ... , so i dont think we can just credit good prosecutors for us hearing about italian match-fixing
At what point do you as an organisation decide that you will look into that matter. How did this all start - or better yet, what event triggered this investigation? We noticed that AP was doing about a dozen match-fixing spot stories around the world a month... but it was country by country. This trial, that arrest, this investigation. It was time to look at the whole of the sport, something that fits an international news agency better than a local or national paper. I had been interested in match-fixing since i covered FIFA for AP in 2007-2008 and did a story when they first set up their EWS monitoring site. got promoted to London, distracted by volcanos and a wonderful London Olympics, but began interviewing people last june.
Glad to oblige blatter? justkidding. What i should have said yesterday -- this AMA is about match-fixing, not Blatter. Blatter is such a vast topic that he needs a whole 'nuther forum. Maybe ask him to come on himself.
How do you stop match fixing? Whoever figures that out gets a nobel peace prize.
Do you have any knowledge of match fixing in Latin America? Specifically Libertadores Cup and Brazilian and Argentinian national leagues? Bolivia and Venezuela have had several suspicious friendlies, Guatemala had 3 players banned in recent months for fixing.
What do you have to say about one of the most outrageous things that happened in the last decade: Lyon 7-1 Zagreb leaving Ajax out of CL? Everyone seems to have forgotten about that thing and no one ever really talked or investigate that game further. That is certainly the one game that Europeans came away thinking must be fixed. it would be a great subject for a magzine piece. maybe when everyone in that game has retired, more might come out.
Which league do you believe to be the most corrupt? Even if it isn't one you've investigated. Impossible to say. too many candidates.
My dad used to bet on soccer matches with his buddies frequently, and pointed out how he would know if a match is fixed or not depending on the players' reactions during a penalty kick. Apparently, whenever a player looks backwards before taking a penalty, he is always looking for a signal as to whether or not he is allowed to make the goal. Is there any merit to this conspiracy theory that my dad and his friends developed? Wild theory, too bad it's prolly not true -- they must have been drinking pretty heavily! If a game is fixed by players, they know beforehand and they know exactly what marks they need to hit: X-X score at halftime, X-X final result, X goal differential. No need to look over their shoulder, they already know if they should make it or not. If the game is fixed by club officials, they have already told their players what to do. If the game is fixed by referees, often players don't even know. They might think it's a ridiculous penalty call but they are not going to hurt their stats, they are going to try to make the penalty.
Who's going to win the European Cup? Going to leave all game analysis to commentators and Match of the Day boys. I'm just all about corruption.
Are there times when two different groups try to fix a match with conflicting goals? This was a significant problem in Asia, and its a terrible business model when two crime gangs are trying to fix the same game. That propeled at least Asian gangs to seek out more European games, which were considered several years ago to be much cleaner. One monitor told me about a match in which his company's spotters at the game saw thugs from two different crime gangs shouting with the ref at halftime. Only one side won. (think the ref in that case had a death wish or was just blinded by greed)
What is the most common betting market on fixed games? A straight win? or something like over 2.5 goals? Or even corners or number of cards? Do you bet on any games? I don't bet on sports, not after seeing all this...! The most common bets on fixed games are four things: final score, half-time score, total number of scores and score differential. who is taking the corner doesnt bring in enough money...
Where does the actual money the gangs win come from? Is straight from the betting agencies pockets? David Forrest, the UK economist who specializes in sports betting, tells us that fixed sports betting is a fabulous way to launder money. You take cash from drug or trafficking operations, you bet on fixed games, not only do u make a profit but dirty money comes back clean. He says some crime gangs are trying to buy soccer clubs just to launder money through them.
Was the Qatar bid for hosting the 2022 world cup involved in bribery of any kind? Sri, this AMA is on match-fixing. The FIFA decision to give the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively is a whole separate (and vast) discussion.
Did your investigation have any overlap with Declan Hill's investigations in the past? Declan is a pioneer, kudos to him. Suggest everyone interested in this topic read his book "The Fix: Organized Crime and Soccer"
a comment: Kudos to you and your team for really doing some real investigative journalism. Too much TMZ-style or reactive news these days so it's refreshing to see some real shit. Second my question: I saw the amount of profit gained from this scheme was a seemingly paltry $11m. In 2012, $94m was bet on the Super Bowl alone. Is the $11m as truly insignificant as it appears? What percentage of the pie is legitimate vs illegitimate? You maybe are just looking at one Italian match-fixing investigation. Multiply that by investigations in 50 nations last year, add to it all the bribe money that is linked to organizing friendlies that can generate big TV revenue... the point about match-fixing is not illegal or legal betting. It is tainting all betting with a fix. European betting agencies pride themselves on their legality, but anyone can be undermined by a fix. In asia, illegal gambling dens thrive because gambling in an ingrained cultural habit that is going to occur even if govts ban it.
Does this only happen with football? are there stories of match fixing happening in the European basketball, volleyball, handball, water polo leagues? All sports can be vulnerable to match-fixing, especially if there is betting on them. add tennis, cricket, horse racing to that mix.
I don't really understand soccer but how and what makes a game suspicious? Huge amounts of late bets on an obscure game. In-game live betting in which lots of bettors put money on another goal and the referee orders a penalty for an unfathomable reason. Games in which all scoring is due to penalty kicks. Games in which scoring is so high that it looks more like baseball. Games in which many goals are disqualified for offsides. so many options i just cant list them all
Does anyone know if Domenico Cricito is still being investigated or if they've finished with him? Cricito, an Italian defender who plays for the St. Petersburg club Zenit, was cleared, not charged with any match-fixing. He has said that he's trying not to be angry but still is about how he was dropped from the Italian team playing in Euro 2012 due to allegations that turned out to be unproven.
How are investigations going in regard to serie a? i know the mafias in Italy have a lot of control over players and referees. Big break on Thursday (feb 21, day after this AMA). a top suspected fixer was arrested by Italian police, Admir Sulijic. he reportedly has links to singapore money man Dan Tan. --- Big break on Friday, Dan Tan being interviewed by Singapore police!!!
Is there a chance Chelsea has been involved with match fixing please say no? I'm such a cynic that I can't say 'No' about any team. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, that's a 'known unknown' -- we know there are some things we do not know. that applies to all teams, not just Chelsea.
Have there been any murders or serious crimes committed in the name of covering up max fixing? In Bulgaria, over a dozen soccer officials have been slain over the last decade. and the crime gangs there don't even pretend to make it look like an accident, they just gun people down in the street.
Due to the nature of your work, do you ever feel in danger? Our medical writer tells us that sitting at a computer for hours on end is the most deadly thing for reporters. if she's right, we are all doomed.
Which top leagues would you say are the least corrupt? Certainly the premier league, due to the players' huge salaries.
Why do FIFA or UEFA never step in to take action on the obviously corrupt English FA, more specifically, Referee's decisions going heavily in the way of a certain Alex Ferguson? There is plenty of evidence, but you just leave them to get away with it. Why? Gotta say, FIFA and UEFA are clearly not fans of the English FA and are certainly not favoring them in any way re refereeing decisions.
I like how this question is dodged. Glad to oblige.
Please tell me the Celtic v Barcelona game wasn't fixed! I have to be sure... Hey even amazing teams lose sometimes! Plus this doesnt match the typical M.O. of the most successful match-fixers. When great teams lose, it always raises more suspicions among bet monitoring companies than when bad teams lose (our reporters visited some secret betting monitoring sites). A convicted midfielder who talked to us about match-fixing says it's always better to simply have bad teams lose once again -- criminals just pre-determine HOW MUCH that team will lose by and play those odds.
Whoever figures that out gets a nobel peace prize. Sri don't mean to be flippant. You go for zero tolerance, you establish anti-match-fixing officials in every national league, you teach players and refs and soccer officials how to recognize approaches by fixers, you increase criminal penalities for fixing, you don't stop investigating serious allegations just because a referee has retired 'from the football family,' (FIFA) you protect whistleblowers better. Italian defender Simone Farina told police about being approached by a fellow player to fix, and that effectively ended his playing career and made him a pariah in italy...happily months and months later Aston Villa made him a 'community coach'
No question, but thanks for doing what you do. This kind of high quality investigative journalism is what the free press is all about. Very kind to hear. are we related? jk. hope you got a chance to read, watch or hear all the eight Dirty Game stories, three sidebars, online video, broadcast video, radio reports, etc.
What's amazing is how ESPN hasn't said a word about this yet. Because they'd rather show more Tim Tebow praying coverage, or Mark Sanchez picking his asshole coverage, or LeBron James changing shampoo types coverage, or Erin Andrews trimming her fingernails coverage. ESPN online did pick up the AP Dirty Game story... and they did a video piece after Europol cited 680 suspicious games. but on that video piece they got an Italian soccer commentator who thought this was being overblown...
Could you please investigate the NBA now pls. Hmm. I saw an NBA rep at the London conference on sports betting. the major difference, obviously, is the huge number of scores in basketball and low number of scores in soccer. 1-0 wins a soccer game, but you need what, 35-50 scores to win an NBA game? So many more scoring variables in the NBA and such high salaries. I would think college ball (no salaries) would be much much more vulnerable to spread fixing.
I am Sheila Norman-Culp, AP’s Assistant Editor for Europe, who led the AP's “Dirty Game” multiformat team that investigated match-fixing in football. FTFY. Ahh, you say football, i say tomato. Let's call a truce. Otherwise Americans in this chat will start talking about Alabama
Last updated: 2013-02-25 02:10 UTC
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