Internet, Calm Down. It Doesn’t Matter Who Invented Bitcoin.

Newsweek’s story may agitate privacy zealots, but it does little to change the trajectory of digital currencies.

James MacWhyte, a member of bitcoin trading club poses with bitcoin medals at the club's meeting in Tokyo on February 27, 2014.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
March 6, 2014, 9:24 a.m.

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.

Catherine Hollander contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×