First, Newsweek “exposed” the creator of bitcoin. Then the Internet lost its mind.
The magazine published its investigative feature Thursday, claiming that it had, thanks to some intrepid sleuthing, located Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious Japanese-American who purportedly invented the cryptocurrency.
“Satoshi Nakamoto” had long been thought to be a pseudonym for a person or group of programmers who in 2008 launched the digital-currency craze with a nine-page paper outlining a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash,” which was introduced shortly thereafter.
Newsweek‘s yarn, which portrays a terse, hermetic man who has chosen to sit on hundreds of millions of dollars in bitcoin instead of cashing in, is fascinating, if for nothing else but a case study in how to awaken the angry, tech-savvy corner of the Internet.
But whether the father of bitcoin is an unassuming libertarian residing in Los Angeles’s San Bernardino foothills or some genius kid hacker based in Tokyo likely does little to change the regulatory trajectory of bitcoin and other volatile virtual currencies. Regulators still have to figure out how to oversee the burgeoning industry, the IRS still has to figure out how to tax it, and lawmakers still need to figure out how they feel about it.
“There’s nothing more, there’s nothing different, they’re still saying they have to find a way to regulate it, etc., etc.,” said Barrie VanBrackle, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips who specializes in payments systems.
Knowing Satoshi Nakamoto’s real identity also doesn’t change the basic regulatory challenge in overseeing the currency — there is no central issuer of bitcoin, which is “mined” by computers as they solve complex math problems, and the currency lacks a network operator, as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen explained last month.
But that didn’t stop Reddit, the online community, from predictably pouncing on the story. Users, many of them self-described bitcoin devotees, swiftly questioned the story’s veracity and the integrity of journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, with one thread racking up more than 1,500 comments.
“Here you know a guy has a way to securely and semi-anonymously transfer hundreds of millions of dollars AND you have the location and names of all his children,” user caducus wrote. “Do you think that maybe you’ve just made them a target for kidnapping? When someone has made every effort to remain 100% unknown this sort of callous disregard for their safety and privacy just blows my mind.”
Another user, pegasaur, chimed in: “Shame that they didn’t bother to respect his privacy at all. This article reveals so much about him that he’s now easy to find. In just a few minutes on Google, you can get the house up on Google Maps.”
To be fair, the concerns shouted from the bowels of the Internet are not so much about the future of bitcoin but about the potential ethical and privacy violations wrought by a publication attempting to revive itself.
But whether Newsweek “doxxed” bitcoin’s father or not, his gift to alternative-currency zealots remains intact. And one investigative story isn’t about to change that.
UPDATE: Apparently, the advice to “calm down” was not heeded by journalists, who decided to engage in a frenzied car chase of Nakamoto around the Los Angeles area.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In an interview with the Associated Press, Satoshi Nakamoto denied having anything to do with the creation of bitcoin. The saga continues.
What We're Following See More »
The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.