How Blockchain Can Stamp Out China’s Fake Diplomas – Forbes Asia #NewTech

By Sharon Lam    October 8, 2017

CHENGDU, CHINA – FEBRUARY 25: (CHINA OUT) A policeman displays fake seals, diplomas and other certificates they seized from illegal producers at a building on February 25, 2005 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. Police have arrested three people suspected of counterfeiting certificates after days of investigation. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

In 2010, former president of Microsoft China Tang Jun, had his PhD from Pacific Western University called into question. Investigators found that not only was Pacific Western an unaccredited institution, but that his diploma had cost him $2,595 in tuition, and required no classroom instruction. A year later, legions of other high-ranking senior executives were, perhaps somewhat embarrassingly, caught up in widespread “degree scams”— dubious programmes offering enrollees credentials like PhD certificates for minimal, if any, academic work. The practice of academic forgery, where degrees from unaccredited or fake institutions are sold to customers both witting and unwitting, has long been popular among unscrupulous students in China, but is relatively new to the upper echelons of its business world.

Though not a uniquely Chinese phenomenon, a quick scroll through Chinese search engine Baidu reveals how easy it is to buy counterfeit certificates from websites like Yuhongzp and PhonyDiploma on the mainland. A fake diploma from The University of Hong Kong, for instance, costs only $250, and allows users to customize everything from the watermark to the quality of the paper stock (“aged,” “eggshell” or “cream” are all options).

More at: How Blockchain Can Stamp Out China’s Fake Diplomas – Forbes Asia #NewTech

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PwC and Arc-Net use blockchain to combat food fraud – Consultancy.uk

Global consultancy PwC and the Northern Irish Arc-Net will gather their knowledge to help the food industry fight fraud. At the heart of their joint efforts is the use of blockchain, an innovative technology that has emerged from financial services.

The blockchain concept was originally developed as an efficient and secure way to manage and register transactions made with cryptocurrencies (for example, Bitcoin). Until now, it has mostly been of interest to individuals and financial institutions. However, with its distributed-ledger technology (DLT) and smart contracts, blockchain has great potential to benefit all companies across the supply chain – not just banks.

One area where the innovative financial technology was perhaps thought of as an unlikely fit at best is the food industry. Worldwide food poverty has hit society in a number of ways, with PwC research suggesting food fraud, as some look to capitalise on people’s desperation, appears to cost the food industry $40 billion a year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in ten people worldwide are ill from eating contaminated foods every year, and 2.2 million people die every year.

More at: PwC and Arc-Net use blockchain to combat food fraud – Consultancy.uk

South African company to tackle ebook piracy with blockchain technology – IT News Africa

Custos Media Technologies, a South African company that provides a globally effective solution to piracy by outsourcing the detection of pirated content using Bitcoin and its blockchain, announced on Wednesday 13 September 2017 that the company will be participating in a new blockchain-based anti-piracy solution for ebooks, following the recent news that content protection giant Digimarc and ebook publisher Erudition are joining forces.

This new collaboration debuts the combination of Digimarc Barcode for digital documents and Custos’ infringement detection technology. This provides a more effective, reader-friendly way to combat ebook piracy.

Erudition and Custos have worked closely together over the past year. The Stellenbosch-based media protection company provides technology that adds Bitcoin deposits to ebooks. These digital bounties enable Custos to rapidly detect piracy after the first copy of a file is shared.

More at: South African company to tackle ebook piracy with blockchain technology – IT News Africa

Blockchain system tackles component counterfeiting – eeNews Europe

An anti-counterfeiting system based on blockchain could help the UK military and large manufacturers have more confidence in the electronic components they use.

UK consultancy Accenture has worked with French electronics maker Thales to develop a demonstrator that uses a number of different security techniques to provide security for electronic components throughout the supply chain using the same technology as digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The system is not just about security, but integration with the payment and business systems using smart contracts so that large OEMs can easily see the provenance of components says Mark Walton-Hayfield of Accenture Digital who led the development.

“Counterfeit parts are a real threat in manufacturing,” he said. “Earlier in 2017 the US armed services estimated that 15 per cent of the components in their machinery are counterfeit. We don’t even have an estimate for what that is in the UK military, but we should anticipate that it is comparable.”

More at: Blockchain system tackles component counterfeiting – eeNews Europe

The Diamond Industry Is Obsessed With the Blockchain – Fortune.com

Diamonds represent beauty, luxury, and true love—though some of them have a dark side. Unscrupulous companies mine “blood diamonds,” and counterfeiters flood the market with convincing fakes. It can be a challenge to ensure beyond a promise that you’re buying an authentic, conflict-free gem.

The blockchain, a distributed computing technology that powers Bitcoin and so many other cryptocurrencies, could be a solution. At its heart the blockchain produces an indelible, tamper-proof ledger. This new type of record-keeping has been heralded as an efficiency that could transform industries like shipping, insurance, and finance. But the diamond business has been one of the first to embrace the technology wholeheartedly.

A London-based company called Everledger has placed more than 1.6 million diamonds on a blockchain. Entries on the digital record include dozens of attributes for each diamond, including the color, carat, and certificate number, which can be inscribed by laser on the crown or girdle of the stone.

“We create a digital twin of the object on the blockchain,” says Leanne Kemp, Everledger’s chief executive.

The technology has enabled diamond suppliers (and intermediaries like border agents) to replace a paper certification process with a blockchain ledger. The process involves using computer scanning tools to access what Kemp calls a “digital vault” and to determine the provenance of any diamond.

More at: The Diamond Industry Is Obsessed With the Blockchain – Fortune.com

The Cornucopia Project: ‘Smart’ agriculture and the Internet of Tomatoes – The Brattleboro Reformer

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — What do you get when you cross The Internet of Things with farming? Why, the Internet of Tomatoes, of course.

Three organizations are working together to help boost and “future-proof” the New England food economy against some of the challenges facing 21st century farming with the help of the Internet, technology and good old fashioned farming.

Analog Devices, Inc., The Cornucopia Project and ripe.io are working together to teach future farmers how to use the Internet of Things and blockchain technologies to track the conditions and movement of produce from “Farm to Fork” to make decisions that improve quality, yields, and profitability.

Erick Olsen, who works with the Smart Agriculture team at Analog Devices — a company that makes sensor and measurement technology — said they weren’t sure where the project was going when it first got started. At first, he explained, they were just looking for someplace to use their technology and eventually wondered if agriculture might be a good fit.

“What we feel is an important part of this project as well as taking agriculture further into the 21st century is providing data,” said Olsen, “helping farmers to make decisions which today they make a lot based on their intuition or in generational knowledge they’ve gotten from their parents as they’ve taken over a farm or maybe from school. A lot of that is learned, it’s hands on, but a lot of times it’s not data driven. And technology could help that, help them sleep better at night, help them see how their decisions affect their profitability, how their decisions can make a higher quality food and ultimately a more profitable food for farmers.”

More at: The Cornucopia Project: ‘Smart’ agriculture and the Internet of Tomatoes – The Brattleboro Reformer

How blockchain solves the complicated data-ownership problem – TNW

Every minute of every day, billions of users are dutifully generating terabytes of data on the internet, from tweets to Facebook posts and Google searches, emails and chat messages, content, music, videos and much more. This data is either directly worth money or can be used to fuel business processes.

However, you have little or no ownership over the digital information that you create or the value that derives from it. All of it goes into the gaping maws of tech giants and corporations that use it to monetize their services.

The reason for this is the centralized architecture that has dominated internet services for the past decades. Under this model, you have to entrust our digital information to brokers such as Facebook and Google. These companies store our data, guarantee its security and integrity, and leverage it to improve their services. But they also use it for other business purposes, often without your consent and giving you little choice. If the broker decides to close down your account, or if their servers fail, all your data goes with it.

Blockchain technology provides an alternative that gives the ownership of data back to users. Blockchain is a decentralized database where data is replicated across several unrelated nodes. No single node can act as a gatekeeper and assume control of your data. Transactions in the ledger are stored in a permanent and verifiable way. Users who store information on the blockchain retain access to it through encryption keys, independent of the service or application that generated it.

Many companies are leveraging the blockchain to provide new business models and platforms where users are in full control and can decide which applications and services can access their data.

More at: How blockchain solves the complicated data-ownership problem – TNW