By far one of the biggest stories of yesterday was the revelations made by Newsweek that they had discovered the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the infamous and anonymous creator of the famous crypto-currency known as Bitcoin. The story goes that, shortly before pulling a disappearing act, Nakamoto proposed the concept of Bitcoin and developed the software that underpins the system in an academic paper.
Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman spent the better part of two months tracking down the man she is convinced is Satoshi Nakamoto, but shortly after her article exploded through the internet yesterday it swiftly became apparent that she wasn’t going to have it all her way. First came the comments below the newsweek article addressing the callous manner in which pictures of his house, car and its registration plates were published for all to see along with the assertion that he may have up to $400 million (a shade over R4 billion) worth of Bitcoin stashed away somewhere. Newsweek has since capitulated to popular pressure and changed the pictures in the online article to obscure both the registration plate and the house number of Nakamoto’s residence.
To add ink to the already murky waters surrounding Goodman’s claims, the man she identified emerged from his house to the torrent of journalists outside and asked if one of them would be willing to take him to lunch and with one Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto in tow, the Associated Press (AP) conducted a two-hour interview with the man who now vehemently denies any involvement at all with the Bitcoin project.
This is in direct conflict with the article penned by Goodman, which quotes Nakamoto as tacitly acknowledging his role in the Bitcoin project:
“I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,” he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. “It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
However in his interview with the AP, however, Nakamoto is very clear in his assertion that he had nothing to do with Bitcoin:
Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek’s report are correct, including that he once worked for a defence contractor, and that his given name at birth was Satoshi. But he strongly disputed the magazine’s assertion that he is “the face behind Bitcoin.”
Nakamoto attributes the misunderstanding in the Newsweek quote to the fact that his English, which is his second language having moved to the US from Japan in 1959, is far from perfect.
Far from remaining an impartial third-party observer, the internet, in the form of the Bitcoin subreddit, r/bitcoin, unleashed its considerable resources to find the personal contact information for Goodman which have since been deleted from the forum but nevertheless stood as a reminder of the kind of privacy invasion that it felt had been dolled out by Goodman.
The current lead of the Bitcoin project, and the man who succeeded Nakamoto, Gavin Andresen, who was also featured in the article also voiced his displeasure at the handling of the entire issue by Newsweek.
I’m disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) March 6, 2014
The story has descended into a ‘He said, She said’ saga that could take anything from a few days to a few months to resolve, that is of course if the truth ever even comes out.