America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been asked a fairly broad question regarding bitcoin in a freedom of information request.
We can’t quite confirm the veracity of the document, but it appears legitimate. It’s a response by NSA to an unidentified individuals who asked them:
“For any and all records pertaining to NSA’s involvement in Bitcoin, either as a consultant, or pertaining to the research teams involved in its creation.”
Now that’s not quite a simple: did you create bitcoin. The question is in fact very complex, so it is no surprise NSA gave the following answer, which boils down to: it’s classified.
They rely on an exception stated in Executive Order 13526 signed by then President Obama in December 2009. The specific section they rely upon says as follows:
“Sec. 1.4. Classification Categories. Information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security in accordance with section 1.2 of this order, and it pertains to one or more of the following:
(c) intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology.”
Cryptology is the study of codes, or the art of writing and solving them. NSA of course deals with information. A good way to hide information is with cryptography. A good way to find hidden information is by cracking such crypto.
Technically, therefore, NSA is in some way related to bitcoin as far as it pertains the cryptography it uses. But bitcoin’s usage of such crypto is more of a plug and play.
Bitcoin itself doesn’t use any new cryptography, nor was any invented by Nakamoto for the purpose of making bitcoin run. A good guess however would be that Nakamoto, or the team, or whatever it was/is, probably knew what is good crypto and what isn’t.
So if NSA wanted to be less canned in their response and wanted to not feed conspiracy sites like Zero Hedge, they could have probably said they may have had involvement in some crypto used by bitcoin prior to bitcoin’s invention, but that they did not actually invent bitcoin or the blockchain.
Yet, no one can say for sure whether they did or didn’t because we don’t know who did invent it, so it can be anyone.
As far as common sense goes, however, we’d be quite surprised if a bloated massive bureaucracy like NSA was involved, and we would be even more surprised if that had not already come out either through Snowden or in some other way.
Snowden, of course, has said he used bitcoin to buy a VPN prior to setting up his environment for communicating with journalists.
So if bitcoin is safe for spies whistleblowing classified information, then trustnodes won’t be losing any sleep over what if it was NSA.
Not least because we don’t think such bureaucracy could be so inventive, nor do they have the mandate to go on doing that sort of research. Instead, if there was any government involvement, it would have probably been DARPA.
The point of open source code, however, is that it doesn’t matter where it came from. But there are quite a few things here that strongly suggest there was no government involvement.
Primarily, and the strongest such evidence, is the way Nakamoto left. At the height of popular revolt against the Iraq war, when Wikileaks published all those diplomatic cables, the administration started behaving in a leashing out manner.
That culminated with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and with Wikileaks cut off from the banking system. Some suggested in bitcointalk they could start accepting bitcoin. Nakamoto pleaded with Wikileaks to not do so. PC World published an article suggesting bitcoin could come to the rescue of Wikileaks. Around December 2010 Nakamoto said, effectively, the government was headed bitcoin’s way. Nakamoto has made no public statements since then.
Now if we wanted to what if, there can be many what ifs here, including that’s exactly what gov would do to keep cover, but, common sense would suggest probabilities are heavily skewed towards non government actors.
Now who exactly those were or are we do not know, but we would think a university department, or perhaps a group of scientists, or perhaps a young genius.
It would be nice to perhaps one day know who it was, but Nakamoto the man can probably never live up to Nakamoto the myth. A myth of great symbolism. So perhaps it would be just as nice to not know. We have no preference, nor do we think it is a decision for us to make even if we could, but for the individual/s themselves.