December 23, 2013

We are all Satoshi Nakamoto

Rumours continue to circulate as to the person who wrote the Bitcoin paper. Occasionally they are directed at self, but they can equally be directed at all the superlative financial cryptographers listed on this site and many others.

Let's take a moment to ask what we are doing here.

*Satoshi Nakamoto chose to do his work in anonymity*.

Or more technically in psuedoanonymity, as someone who claims to be 'anon' leaves no individual name and cannot be connected forward or backwards in time.

He, assuming it is a he, probably had good reasons for this. Which leaves us pondering why we would disrespect those reasons?

We, all of us, in today's Bitcoin world and yesterday's precursors to that world: cypherpunks, crypto, FC, privacy, mobile money, Tor, the Internet in general, ... we all hold privacy as an article of faith. We built the thing to protect people, and protect their privacy.

If Satoshi Nakamoto chose privacy, by what right or motive do we breach that? None.

There is no doctrine that permits anyone out there to arbitrarily strip out someone's privacy and remain one of us. Quite the opposite: our beliefs and existence call for protecting this person.

Indeed, revealing a stated secret of someone is more or less a crime in many contexts. Intelligence agencies can of course spy on whosoever, but they are not allowed to reveal that information (or, so says the doctrine). Police can demand information, but only pursuant to a crime -- probable cause and all that.

Freedom of the press? Public figures are by their nature afforded less 'privacy' because they are public; but they chose that path, and the courts grant the ability of the paparazzi only certain abilities, in line with the public figures' choice of public life. Paparazzi aren't allowed to chase ordinary folk, and Satoshi Nakamoto clearly chose to be out of that game.

Freedom of the press doesn't cut it. Nor does whistleblower status. Nor does 'public interest' as the public has no conceivable benefit to knowing more.

Those people who are digging around trying to strip this person's privacy are doing so because they haven't been called on it. Because they think it is cool. Because they feel intellectually challenged by the use of nyms, and using a nym is a licence to curiosity.


I call you now: what you are doing is wrong.

In some places it is a crime, because breaching privacy presumes there is another crime to follow: theft or fraud or extortion. It's a good presumption. In all civilised places, breaching privacy is an anathema. We all in this business -- save those sad damned souls with 5 eyes -- are working to *protect our community* not single out vulnerable persons and burn them at the stake.

Get you gone, get you out of our community. Anyone who publically reveals anyone else's private information has no common part with us. Anyone who goes on a witchhunt is our enemy. We are not doing all this work to give a few paparazzi a special scoop. To the person who eventually outs Satoshi Nakamoto I say this: the only place you'll be welcome is the NSA. Get ye there, scum.

In the words of that old film, we are all Satoshi Nakamoto.

Posted by iang at December 23, 2013 03:37 AM | TrackBack

Apparently no one seems to know the identity of banksy,

Or, at least, those in the know pretend that they don't know his identity.

Perhaps this is the most that one can expect?

Posted by: darren at December 31, 2013 09:44 AM

" The bitcoin story is the same, but with a twist. It may be the first business/economic creation myth where technology, rather than a human, is the star of the show. As Colas concludes, in a decentralized and tech-driven world, we are all Spartacus. "

Posted by: We are all... at March 12, 2014 07:23 AM

FYI here an article published in 2013 with an analysis of the topic, esp. from chapter 8 "Glory" onwards

Posted by: Jaromil at December 14, 2015 04:23 AM
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