Bitcoin Evangelist Has Podcast Go Bad, Threatens To Sue After It's Posted

from the that's-not-how-it-works dept

Folks in the Bitcoin/blockchain world can be fairly opinionated — that’s no surprise. But just because you have an interview go sideways, it doesn’t mean you get to threaten a lawsuit over it. That’s not how it works. Perianne Boring founded and runs a lobbying organization focused on Bitcoin/blockchain issues called the Chamber of Digital Commerce. I have to admit to not being that familiar with the organization (I’m more familiar with another organization called Coin Center). However, late last week, Boring appeared on a podcast called Bitcoin Uncensored. To say the interview did not go well… would be an understatement.

Again, there are lots of different opinions around Bitcoin and blockchains, and the hosts of the show are pretty clearly skeptical of both Boring’s position and knowledge on the issues — and they don’t hide their skepticism at all. The interview is basically a long attempt to pick apart Boring’s knowledge of Bitcoin/blockchain and the regulatory issues related to it. It doesn’t really get very confrontational in terms of yelling. They just keep asking questions that lead to more buzzwordy answers than substance, and then ask followups that highlight that. It does come across as a bit of badgering by the hosts who are playing a game of gotcha. But, still…

Not surprisingly, the interview doesn’t go over well. They close it out by highlighting that she doesn’t appear to understand a number of issues related to Bitcoin/blockchains, and they worry about what happens when people think she represents the technology and the regulatory questions. They point out that there are tons of scams in the space, and they worry that when someone represents the space and can’t understand what’s a scam and what’s legit, it can lead to very bad results overall.

Fine. That kind of thing happens. People give bad interviews with people who are deliberately trying to make them look foolish. It doesn’t necessarily mean they really are foolish, just that they got caught in such an interview. What happens next is where things go weird. Boring apparently emailed one of the hosts of the show, Chris DeRose, to demand he take down the episode. Like so many people who are angry about content online, she trots out all the ridiculous reasons why:

If you can’t read that, it says:

Incredibly disappointed by what happened today. Please delete the episode (link referenced below) immediately — you are not authorized to publish this content. A cease and desist letter is forthcoming, and charges of harassment and slander will follow if you do not comply.

Yeah, so that’s not how any of this works. She clearly agreed to go on the program, so there’s no “authorization” needed to publish the interview. Publishing her own interview is also neither harassment nor slander. She does get credit for being correct that “slander” is the word for defamatory speech (whereas it’s libel if it’s written), but having listened to the entire interview, I don’t hear anything that comes even remotely close to slander. They do mock her, and are perhaps a little harsh, but it’s not slander. And, of course, threatening them only makes this worse. I never would have heard about any of this if she hadn’t sent such a bogus threat email, and now it’s getting more attention because of it. There’s a term for that somewhere…

I actually think it’s good that there are people working to educate politicians on Bitcoin and blockchain technologies. I’m not nearly as skeptical as the guys who run the podcast are of the technology, though I agree that there are lots of questions about where it will go and if it will ultimately be as useful as some expect. I also recognize that sometimes interviews can go weird and not come out the way people expect. But to react by demanding it be taken down and waving around bogus legal threats doesn’t seem particularly productive, and only seems likely to call into greater question Boring’s other claims.

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Comments on “Bitcoin Evangelist Has Podcast Go Bad, Threatens To Sue After It's Posted”

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GMacGuffin (profile) says:

A Couple Thoughts...

1) Bitcoin Uncensored’s MO is to grill. Going on their podcast and expecting otherwise is much like letting The Daily Show do a piece on you and expecting to be coddled.

2) Blockchain is the fundamental issue, and it’s not terribly difficult to understand. So Ms. Boring (in the space for several years) should have a better grip.

3) Private blockchains, on Ms. Boring’s radar and being looked at by the “real” money players, are antithetical to the concept of a true distributed ledger. If it’s private, it’s not truly a distributed network, and thus subject to tampering. “The whole point is lost …” (to paraphrase Dr. Strangelove)

4) Redditors (where intelligent discussion of Bitcoin does take place) peg Ms. Boring as someone who can do more harm than good to cryptocurrencies, as she is trying to be a liason between the Bitcoin world and the govt. (aka lobbyist). One needs more than word-salad buzzwords. Regulators are confused enough already.

5) Ms. Boring followed up her threats by playing the gender card. Intelligent, articulate women in the Bitcoin space, of which there are plenty, were not happy about that.

6) The phrase “Streisand Effect” figured prominently in online discussions of this. Indeed. This was a small-subset issue (previously).

Ms. Boring, meet Ms. Streisand.

Svante Jorgensen (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Couple Thoughts...

Any pointers to those specific cases? After several years of studying Bitcoin and Blockchain, I have yet to see one example that would not be better suited to a (comparatively) simple replicated database and cryptographic signatures.

The value of a blockchain is not in data transfer or authentication. It is a trust system independent of central authority.

Blockchain only have real value to those who are willing to massively trade efficiency to get rid of central authority. To make a closed “private blockchain”, you need trust in a central authority to define who can and cannot access that blockchain. Therefor a “private blockchain” is a self-defeating concept.

Or at least that is my current view. I would be happy to learn something new.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

My experience

I am occasionally interviewed on radio shows and podcasts, and all of them went fine for me except for the last one I did (about a year ago).

While that was not comparable to this one in the sense that the host was not only supportive of me, he did his level best to make me sound good. The problem was me — I was ill, and my brain was not really firing on all cylinders. Also, I’d had a bit too much caffeine.

The end result was that I sounded like a hyperactive idiot.

It was so bad that I never told anyone about it, not even my friends. But you know what never occurred to me to do?

Ask that it be taken down.

Ms. Boring, a word of advice: bad interviews happen. When they do, the best thing you can possibly do is just let it go. If you’re worried about PR, then do another interview with someone who is “on your side” and publicize the hell out of that.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Ms. Boring's bio offers the explanation

Here’s her bio from the Chamber of Digital Commerce website:

Perianne Boring founded the Chamber of Digital Commerce in July 2014, and currently serves as President overseeing the Chamber’s operations, government affairs and public policy initiatives. She previously worked in network broadcast news and as a Forbes contributor. She began her career as a legislative analyst in the US House of Representatives, advising on finance, economics, tax and healthcare policy.

She’s a news broadcaster and lobbyist, not a technology person. She may be unaware that technologists tend to care more about technical correctness than messaging.

JustMe (profile) says:

Making up random crapola

Lady, I clearly get the sense that you enjoy making up random titles (because you are entitled? ha ha) but founding a bogus organization to make yourself the president (and chief cook and bottle washer methinks) isn’t the way to engage with either techs or lawmakers. Perhaps put some time in learning the topics and becoming a recognized expert in the field before purporting to speak for the community. Who knows, it might keep you from looking so stupid… twice.

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