For three years the man that solved the computer complexities behind the invention of the crypto-currency has faded off the grid. Satoshi Nakamoto, possibly one individual or an organization, stopped contributing changes to Bitcoin’s code, and withdrew from forum conversations he once actively participated in. But finally, after media of every kind followed Newsweek’s example of pointing fingers at Dorian S. Nakamoto, a privacy-prerfering code expert in California, the true developer behind the original operation spoke out. “I am not Dorian Nakamoto,” was all Satoshi Nakamoto said. It was all he had to say. It seems that the creator of Bitcoin has stepped out from behind the curtain long enough to deny that he was discovered before, and will likely be returning to silence.
The resulting media coverage of Dorian Nakamoto has since revealed his complete lack of understanding of Bitcoin and what he meant when his use of his second language was completely misinterpreted.
It turns out that there is a lot to learn about a person by looking into the computer code they write and reference. When Satoshi Nakamoto first released the concept and explanation of the new peer-to-peer money it was in a document posted publicly. Since then, that document and the Bitcoin code has been read and analyzed extensively and some personal clues can be seen, for instance, there are clues about the coder’s age.
In Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, there are outdated terms such as “disk space” which is an old concern from a past millennium. Also included are citations of contemporaries that date all the way back to work done in 1957. Nakamoto’s original code also contained methods that, though effective, have long been out of use.
The code also suggests he was working alone. Part of the point of having a team developing together is the editing they can provide for each other. The original version of Bitcoin was not tidy but instead filled with fraying edges that a team would have assisted in polishing. But then, far more telling than age or preferred working environment, there are quirks. or small, personal oddities. Certainly a quirk of Satoshi’s was interchangeably using both British and American spelling. Many of these were used to force Dorian Nakamoto into the spotlight because he shares several of these tendencies. But there were also others that did not match.
However, that much analysis is rarely required to understand communication, especially when it is so adamantly interwoven into a person’s life. Such was Dorian’s need for his privacy, as said by many people and especially his family. It is interesting how suddenly, people across the globe can confidently say this about a man they have never met. And that happened because a journalist chose to publish that information along with Dorian Nakamoto’s face, house, and license plate.
The original story that revealed Dorian had Nakamoto plenty of circumstantial evidence to be a candidate for the mysterious Satoshi, also documented the incredible but highly intrusive lengths that the reporter went to in digging up information.
A big player in this story and Bitcoin’s existence is Gavin Andresen, who worked with Satoshi Nakamoto closely. They never met or discussed private matters, however they did communicate closely online several times a week for nearly a year. In the beginning, Andresen saw the proposal and sent an email to Nakamoto simply stating his interest and asking what work was needed on the project. In this case, the lack of exchanging personal information is likely not a personal quirk of Satoshi, but a necessary safety measure. Andresen explained that when they started it was unclear if the project was more legal or criminal. It was only common sense that he was careful about his constructed anonymity.
But there were concerns about how many people interpreted him as a “mysterious shadowy figure.” Nakamoto contacted Andresen to explain his fear that protecting his identity was fueling the negative opinions of Bitcoin. He urged Andresen to publicly focus on the open source operation and how the community assists in running Bitcoin. His involvement slowed but when Andresen informed Nakamoto that he was going to talk to the CIA, legendary Satoshi Nakamoto flickered out of the public eye completely.
Andresen had no reason to be wary of media attention as it was just a developing job, though admittedly one he did care about. He was invited to personally speak at the Central Intelligence Agency. He accepted and saw it as an opportunity to answer their questions directly with the goal of showing them Bitcoin was simply a more advanced and efficient currency that could not get caught up in politics or make bankers wealthy just because “they hold the keys” to the money. It is not an invention exclusively for the black-market that would be funding the idea of burning down the systems already in place, and he was going to prove it to them.
After the article came out, Andresen made comments on Twitter and in an open letter to Reddit that he was disappointed in both reporter and editors who allowed so much personal information to be published that people could easily find Dorian and his family. He admitted she had worked hard, but that other people wanting to track down Satoshi Nakamoto would not be professionals and Dorian could be at risk.
The article certainly did take a lot of hard work. It convinced a large enough group of people to cause the end of the silence and force a statement that he had not been discovered straight from Bitcoin creator himself. It was a two-month long process of looking through a database containing naturalized US citizens, then once that led to Dorian Nakamoto’s name (which used to be Satoshi until he changed it when he was young) the writer contacted everyone closest to Dorian. This included interviewing his family and the developers who worked with him, all of whom said the same thing. Dorian Satoshi places a high value on his privacy.
In the end, most of the hard work done is what the Internet considers doxxing, which is invasive and inappropriate. Doxxing is the term for uncovering someone’s personal information by using small details such as their user name or email address. It is technically legal, as long as the information found is already publicly available, such as what you would find on a Google search, and not used to force discovery of SSN or credit card number.
But the Internet has had this negative view of that process, even within legal boundaries, for too long. After all, public information like name, address, and phone number being connected to an internet identity that is by default considered fairly anonymous can easily cause problems or lead to a user being harassed. Because the demographic of Internet users that view doxxing this way are the same people interested in the article, public opinion has been in-supportive and sometimes angry. There have even been users waiting to see what happens when someone retaliates and uncovers that much information about the Newsweek journalist since she has created such a negative stir.
The reporter began by getting Dorian Nakamoto’s email from the company where he buys model trains, the building and designing of which has been his hobby since teen years. She then contacted him under the guise of discussing this passion, and for a time he did talk with her when the focus was on the trains. Unsurprisingly, he did not answer her calls and immediately ceased correspondence once she asked about his involvement in Bitcoin. Then, she pushed his son and several other family members to question him about the topic of being Satoshi and to see if they could get him to discuss it. None of them could. So she showed up at his house.
Dorian Satoshi did not answer the door and only talked to her after he called the police and waited for the officers to arrive. He finally stated dismissively that he was no longer involved and could not discuss anything. He had no connection, Dorian Nakamoto insisted.
When the article was published, the press, including local, national, and foreign reporters, showed up to his house in overwhelming numbers. He avoided them for hours before announcing that until he had eaten he would not talk. A reporter of AP was quick to the draw and offered to buy him lunch. It turned into a spectacle, but the end result was a two-hour exclusive interview where Dorian was able to share his side of the connections made by Newsweek. In the article released Thursday, he occasionally called it “bitcom,” when denying his involvement with this company. Of course, Bitcoin is not a company at all. And finally, he unraveled his meaning when his quote made it sound like he was saying he was not currently involved, instead of never involved.
When he said he was “no longer involved and I cannot discuss it,” he was addressing how he is no longer a software engineer, then he referred to the non-disclosure agreements he had signed in the past. He is legally bound from saying what projects he has worked on and thought mentioning this would turn the reporter away. During the AP interview, when shown the Bitcoin proposal, Dorian questioned the use of “peer-to-peer” in the title. “That’s just a matter of address. What the hell? It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The tale of two Nakamotos for now wraps up with the real creator’s statement and the efforts to prove it was him. Satoshi Nakamoto’s post used his old P2P Foundation account on the forum where he announced Bitcoin’s existence in 2009 and he replied to the discussion topic he created for the unveiling. His last two posts were on March 24, 2010 and Jan. 7, 2011. But even could no longer remain silent, and all the real Bitcoin creator had to say was a simple denial that he has been discovered. Josef Davies-Coates, an admin for the site, verified over tweet that the account used for the post was registered under the same email on the Bitcoin document. Another informal statement came from the site saying as of late into Thursday, they were working to verify and would give an official statement on the results in the following hours.
By: Whitney Hudson