By Spencer Kellogg | United States
Vitalik Buterin is back in the news heading into the weekend after comments he made suggesting that Bitcoin was created by the US government spy agency NSA. In a post published under his screen name on the well know cryptocurrency forum BitcoinTalk, Buterin was blunt in his assessment regarding Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin’s shadowy creation myth:
I wouldn’t be surprised if he is actually an American working for the NSA specializing in cryptography. Then he got sick of the government’s monetary policies and decided to create Bitcoin. Or the NSA itself decided to create Bitcoin.
things as big as megacorps and governments work against themselves all the time, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the NSA has some part in at least supporting it.
Bitcoin’s origin is shrouded in lore after an anonymous person named ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ released the whitepaper to little fanfare in January of 2009. With the global financial sector in near collapse, Bitcoin’s genesis block was encoded with the following text: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” Ideologically, the point seems clears. However, to those of a more conspiratorial bent, the first words on Bitcoin’s chain seemed likely the bidding of government agents interested in identifying and guaranteeing anarchist and libertarian-leaning as adopters. Which is exactly what happened.
From Bitcoin’s inception, it has been used to buy drugs, guns and all fashions of illegal materials without the eye of a paternalistic government. Allegedly. When Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the silk road, was busted for hiring a hitman and creating an underground marketplace for illegal goods, his BTC wallet was backdoored and all his funds taken. For governments with a desire to keep their eyes on ‘terrorists’ (or perhaps just everyday citizens), the idea of a public ledger of recorded transactions is exactly the kind of system you would employ.
And then there’s the bit about Satoshi Nakamoto. Some have come forward to claim they are the creator, most notably Craig Wright. In the end, his proof and others have been deemed unconvincing. The truly anonymous identity to the creator of a more than 100 billion dollar market has led to rampant speculation regarding his/her/their intentions. From what we know today, we can’t yet discount that the producer of the first ‘global, decentralized currency’ could very well be a team of American scientists hell-bent on devising the largest single ecosystem of surveillance in the history of the world.
None of this takes into account the very real fact that it is China who controls large tracks of Bitcoin and its mining operation. Speaking before a conference in Boston this week, Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse was direct in his criticism of BTC: “Bitcoin is really controlled by China. There are four miners in China that control over 50 percent of Bitcoin.” If anyone appears to influence the sentiment and market force of Bitcoin it would appear to be the Chinese.
Ironically, it has been Buterin who has felt the conspiracy burn recently as he has been hounded by claims that Ethereum is not particularly decentralized in its application. Furthermore, he has been lambasted by parts of the crypto community for his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. With cryptocurrencies still in their budding infancy, speculation regarding the founders, developers and participants are at an all-time high. Is Bitcoin an NSA product? We will have to wait and see. Until then BTFD.
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