Hunt for Bitcoin's secretive founder takes a turn

LOS ANGELES -- Since the founding of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2009, its inventor - or inventors - have been shrouded in mystery.

See Full Article

For six years, that individual or group has lurked behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto and hoarded a pile of the digital currency so large it might crash the market if sold today.

The hunt for Bitcoin's secretive founder has taken a turn. The technology magazine Wired and the website Gizmodo both published investigative pieces this week that sorted through a trove of leaked (and possibly hacked) emails and documents that pointed to Craig Stephen Wright, a 44-year-old Australian bitcoin entrepreneur living in a posh suburb of Sydney.

While neither report was conclusive - no attempt at identification can be without the founder sending a message or moving bitcoins using Nakamoto's own encrypted signature, known as a PGP key - both raised startling circumstantial evidence that puts a bright spotlight on Wright.

Attempts to reach Wright on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The hunt for Bitcoin's founder has become a cottage industry among some journalists. The chase has veered from a Finnish sociologist to a Japanese mathematician to a Japanese-American engineer, all of whom denied it - the latter after a car chase with reporters that ended at the offices of The Associated Press in Los Angeles in March 2014.

Why anyone cares boils down to three key things:

- Bitcoin is designed for secure financial transactions that require no central authority - no banks, no government regulators. That makes it attractive to off-the-grid types such as libertarians, people who want to evade tax authorities, and criminals, even though Bitcoin doesn't guarantee anonymity, since it documents every transaction in a public forum. Still, it attracts conspiracy theorists interested in the very conspiracy that created it.

"It's part of the mystery of Bitcoin," said James Angel, associate professor of finance at Georgetown University. "Usually when people invent something really cool, they're more than happy to take credit for it. Here, we have this obsessive anonymity. You kind of wonder, 'Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?'"

- Bitcoin is still working out kinks and problems, one of which is a dispute over an arbitrary cap on the number of bitcoins that are created each day by so-called miners who keep the system running. Some advocates would like Nakamoto to re-emerge and resolve the conflict, even though the founder hasn't been involved for years.

- Nakamoto's encrypted PGP key can unlock a huge stash of bitcoins - a million or so worth more than C$523 million, accounting for about 7 per cent of all bitcoins in existence. No one has touched that bitcoin hoard. Should the real Nakamoto begin cashing in those bitcoins, it could destabilize the cryptocurrency.

According to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, bitcoins are thinly traded. Only about $1.9 million in real dollars flow into the system every day to buy the roughly 3,600 bitcoins created by "miners" who run intensive computations necessary to keep track of bitcoin transactions in exchange for new bitcoins.

"The amount of bitcoin in the early Satoshi-mined blocks would totally swamp the current demand," Weaver said, making the founder's identity crucial to faith in the system itself. "What happens if there's someone with a million shares who you don't know, you don't know where they are, you don't know what their motives are?"

Wired, for one, couched its conclusion guardedly: "Either Wright invented bitcoin, or he's a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Warming climate could affect life in Arctic Ocean, says new study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Climate change is transforming the Arctic Ocean in ways that could permanently alter the food chain and impact ocean species, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at the concentration of the chemical element radium-228 in the central Arctic Ocean and found that between 2007 and 2015 the concentration doubled. Source
  • No drunk or stoned droning: New Jersey passes ban

    Tech & Science CTV News
    New Jersey has added drunk droning to the statute books, outlawing the flying of unmanned aircraft after one too many drinks. The law makes it an offense to operate a drone under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 per cent or more. Source
  • Environmental impact of N.S. turbines must be researched: executive director

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's bid to become a world leader in tidal energy received a boost today when Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan announced a new competition for research funding. MacLellan says $150,000 is being offered to support five research projects that will involve the use of Dalhousie University's Aquatron -- one of Canada's largest aquatic research facilities. Source
  • World's largest sea turtle could come off 'endangered' list

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Federal ocean managers say it might be time to move the East Coast population of the world's largest turtle from the U.S.'s list of endangered animals. An arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received a petition from a fishing group asking that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean's leatherback sea turtles be listed as "threatened," but not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. Source
  • No increase in earthquakes during full or new moons, study suggests

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The moon may be the cause of some things that happen on Earth, but earthquakes aren't one of them, a new study suggests. There's been an ongoing debate as to whether or not more earthquakes occur when the moon's tidal forces — its pull — is strongest. Source
  • BlackBerry's 'Jarvis' scans connected, autonomous cars for software vulnerabilities

    Tech & Science CTV News
    At the Detroit motor show, BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, unveiled the firm's new cybersecurity software, Jarvis, designed to analyze the many software systems used in connected and autonomous cars to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Jarvis aims to analyze all of the complex IT systems onboard connected and autonomous vehicles with speed and reliability. Source
  • Welcome to the neighbourhood. Have you read the terms of service?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The L-shaped parcel of land on Toronto's eastern waterfront known as Quayside isn't much to look at. There's a sprawling parking lot for dry-docked boats opposite aging post-industrial space, where Parliament Street becomes Queens Quay. To its south is one of the saddest stretches of the Martin Goodman trail, an otherwise pleasant running and biking route that spans the city east to west. Source
  • Canada's deepest cave discovered by Calgary-based expedition

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It's definitely not for the claustrophobically inclined. A Calgary-based expedition has recently documented what's believed to be Canada deepest cave just north of Fernie, B.C. Kathleen Graham and Jeremy Bruns were part of a nine-person team of volunteer explorers who made the discovery around the new year. Source
  • Tips on how to protect yourself online

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The case of an Ontario man who allegedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars by peddling massive troves of personal information obtained on the so-called dark web is a sobering reminder of the scale of online threats Canadians face every day. Source
  • B.C. man charged in alleged 'spambot' attack on video streaming platform

    Tech & Science CTV News
    COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A British Columbia man has been charged with mischief after a U.S.-based social media platform was allegedly flooded with thousands of spam messages, effectively shutting down many of its channels. Brandan Lukus Apple of Coquitlam was charged Dec. Source