Stop Microsoft’s Discriminatory Policy!

Stop Microsoft’s Discriminatory Policy!

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NiceHash Mining started this petition to Microsoft

Allow mining software before Microsoft destroys decentralization! Many legitimate coin-mining software applications are being incorrectly labeled as malware and / or being flagged as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications) by Windows operating systems.

We believe that this is an illogical and dangerous practice that needs reviewed since it:

  • Endangers the decentralization of cryptocurrencies by limiting their use to large mining farms. (appendix. 1)
  • Reduces trust in Windows Defender and anti-virus software by inaccurately flagging legitimate software based on policy and not valid technical reasons, making users doubt it’s efficiency. (appendix 2)
  • Forces users to disable Windows Defender, increasing their risks of being infected with real malware from elsewhere (appendix 10) and does not account for the fact that people installing the software want to use it. (appendix 9)
  • Damages the reputation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in general. (appendix 4)
  • Decreases the security of blockchain projects since the technology relies on decentralization as a security mechanism. (appendix 5)
  • Raises questions concerning anti-competitive behavior on the part of Microsoft, since they have filed patents for their own mining applications indicating that they likely plan to present their own product in the future. (appendix 3)

This dangerous policy also:

  • Turns away newcomers and potential talent to the field since it discourages new users getting into blockchain technology. (appendix 6)
  • Contributes to damaging the environment since it encourages large mining farms, instead of small home mining rigs that use less power and can more easily obtain energy from sustainable sources. (appendix 7)
  • Has a negative impact on the wealth gap since it contributes to increasing the wealth of big mining farms controlled by a small percentage of people, given that individuals and small miners are prevented from mining digital currencies.
    (appendix 8)

Who Is Affected:

  • Well over 3 million users of mining software.
  • Millions of potential newcomers to the technology who are being driven away by Microsoft's indiscriminate policy.
  • Everyone who uses or is interested in cryptocurrencies, and who cares about the future stability, sustainability and security of blockchain technologies.

The Solution:

We request that mining software that is from trusted sources, EG. software that has an EV certificate, has its code signed, comes from a publicly known author, and is proven to be safe, be allowed by Windows Defender and allowed to run smoothly when installed by the user. Mining software cannot be installed by a third party for nefarious purposes without additional software components, so Windows Defender must stop blocking legitimate software in
order to protect users from real malware.

How You Can Help:

  • Sign this petition to help protect blockchain technology and the mining community.
  • Spread the word of the current threat to decentralization and the dangers of Microsoft policy.
  • Share this petition with anyone who cares about cryptocurrencies and show them why signing matters.

This petition benefits everyone in the mining community, as all users will have a smoother experience mining on Windows with less interruptions, and the result will also increase the adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Appendix:
The following information details our stance and the imminent dangers and consequences of not taking action.


Appendix 1: Decentralization
Decentralization is a key factor in the usability of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Without it, many projects will either fail or are subject to security issues or price manipulations. The current situation is headed dangerously towards less and less decentralization (notably with Bitcoin, among others). By blacklisting or blocking mining software, Windows Defender is essentially contributing to the centralization of blockchains as their policy prevents or discourages individuals from mining, resulting in
increasing the share of big mining farms. This is a very dangerous practice.


Appendix 2: Policy
The response from Microsoft support informed us that “mining software uses device resources and results in the degradation of user experience and productivity” and therefore is labeled as a PUA. This simply does not make any sense since by that definition, computer games, bench-marking tools, rendering apps and similar types of software should also be considered as PUAs. We can only conclude that this is simply Microsoft's policy and not a valid technical reason, which highlights the dangers of such policies: discriminating against certain types of legitimate software is a dangerous practice that threatens the democracy of organizations such as Microsoft, and can lead to a widespread view of corruption in Microsoft’s own reputation. This also raises questions as to anti-competitive behavior.

Appendix 3: Anti-competitive behavior
Microsoft has filed patents for their own mining applications*, and while this is aimed at using alternative methods of mining, it still demonstrates that Microsoft is actively looking at their own products in the mining sphere. Given that the current behavior is based on policy and not technical reasons, this raises a question as to whether Microsoft is deliberately blocking other mining software in order to later promote their own product. If this is proven to be the case, Microsoft faces serious consequences for their practices, and presents an even bigger threat to decentralization and other companies. This would not be the first time in Microsoft’s history, since they are well known for malicious marketing tactics.


Appendix 4: Reputation
As with all new technologies, blockchain relies on a certain amount of user trust as well as the technical fundamentals. Incorrectly flagging mining software as PUAs or malware adds negativity to the image of cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects, not to mention negatively affecting the reputation of the companies and start ups making the software (such as NiceHash) who are working hard to encourage decentralization. This practice goes further since it also damages Microsoft’s own reputation in their abilities to produce effective anti-virus software.


Appendix 5: Security
Blockchain technologies rely on decentralization as a security mechanism, therefore it goes without saying that encouraging the centralization of cryptocurrencies, as Microsoft is doing, decreases the security of many projects around the world. Preventing people from mining small amounts on their own computers is not increasing security as Microsoft suggests, it is actually making the security situation worse. Users are forced to completely disable Windows Defender in order to mine small amounts of cryptocurrencies. This diminishes the security of their computers. Microsoft's’ blog points out that their policy is designed to prevent crypto-jacking of computer systems, and on their own website cites that “coin miners aren't inherently malicious” and in reality their approach is counter productive.

Appendix 6: Newcomers
For many people interested in blockchain technologies, one of the typical ways to get into the field is by experimenting with mining to get a better understanding of how things work. By discouraging new users with Windows Defenders’ excessive warnings and labeling policies, many potential new talents to the industry are turned away, and users will simply be less likely to use cryptocurrencies.


Appendix 7: Environment
Forcing away home-sized miners pushes the computing power into the hands of large mining farms. Home users of mining software typically have one or two GPUs that have significantly lower power usage. A home user can more easily switch to sustainable energy than a large mining farm, many of which still use coal as a power source. Encouraging large scale farming like Microsoft is doing by blocking home users, is essentially contributing to intense power use in centralized clusters and indirectly promoting the use of non-renewable energy.


Appendix 8: Wealth gap
The consequences of hampering decentralization have other impacts too. Notably, in increasing the gap between rich and poor, since if small miners are blocked from generating revenue, the hash power falls into the hands of big mining farms. These are owned by a very small percentage of people, who then control all the supply of wealth which can therefore easily be used to manipulate the market. We ask why Microsoft wishes to contribute to impoverishment, instead of helping to promote equality.


Appendix 9: The user’s choice
It goes without saying that if a user downloads and installs mining software, then they actually want to use that software with their computer hardware (which they own). We would like to think that with the technical capacities of Microsoft, that Windows Defender could recognize that it is the computer user who is downloading and manually running the software. It should not be necessary to block every single mining application just to prevent misuse. Microsoft is under-using their capacities to fix this issue.

Appendix 10: Open source software
Many mining software applications are open source or use open source repositories. It is well known that open sourcing software code has a huge benefit towards combating malware, since anyone can review the code, resulting in it being made more stable and secure. Code that is signed with an EV digital signature is further enhanced, as it has been through a a rigorous screening process. We therefore see no justifiable reason to block these applications.

 

Conclusion: 

Given the above information, and NiceHash having been provided with no adequate explanation from Microsoft, nor any guidelines for mitigating this problem, we believe that the large number of signatures here brings awareness to Microsoft to the extent of the problem. The issues of their policy reach far beyond what NiceHash is trying to achieve, affecting the whole mining community, and must be addressed to prevent further damage to coin mining and blockchain technologies.

We encourage you to sign this and let your voice be heard.


Do not let Microsoft kill cryptocurrencies! 


Thank you for your support,
(for the entire crypto community!)


NiceHash

 

Sources:
1 https://github.com/nicehash/NiceHashQuickMiner/wiki/Security-Mechanisms
1 https://www.digicert.com/signing/code-signing-certificates#EV-Code-Signing
2 https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/bitcoin-miners-bln-earnings-how-they-make-money-transactions-2021-2-1030103871
3 https://101blockchains.com/decentralized-vs-centralized/
3 https://www.livebitcoinnews.com/report-bitcoin-is-becoming-more-centralized/
3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerhuang/2021/12/29/the-chinese-mining-centralization-of-bitcoin-and-ethereum/
3 https://fortune.com/2020/11/18/the-return-of-20000-bitcoin-whats-different-this-time-around/
3 https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-dangers-of-mining-pools-centralization-and-security-issues
4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/haileylennon/2021/01/19/the-false-narrative-of-bitcoins-role-in-illicit-activity/
4 https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-cops-criminals
5 https://www.technologyreview.com/2018/04/25/143246/how-secure-is-blockchain-really/
5 https://www.itproportal.com/features/a-weak-link-is-blockchain-as-secure-as-we-think-it-is/
5 https://hbr.org/2017/03/how-safe-are-blockchains-it-depends
5 https://www.ibm.com/topics/blockchain-security
6 https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/threat-protection/intelligence/coinminer-malware
7 https://fortune.com/2021/04/20/bitcoin-mining-coal-china-environment-pollution/
8 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-08/the-bitcoin-whales-1-000-people-who-own-40-percent-of-the-market
9 https://opensource.com/article/17/8/enterprise-open-source-advantages
* https://techhq.com/2020/05/what-microsofts-latest-patent-on-crypto-mining-tech-could-mean/
* https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2020060606
* https://cointelegraph.com/news/microsoft-files-patent-for-crypto-mining-system-using-body-activity-data
* https://kryptografen.com/news/microsoft-gets-patent-approved-for-new-mining-venture/

0 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!
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