In case you haven’t heard, Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin was recently dragged into a controversy surrounding the origin of Bitcoin. A June 15 report on a British publication claimed that Buterin believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States was involved in the creation of Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency by market cap.
Interestingly, the publication cited a seven-year-old conversation between Buterin and a user of the online forum, Bitcointalk, to support its claim. While the report itself did not create much brouhaha, as sensational stories usually do, it prompted a quick and categorical denial from the Ethereum cofounder.
NSA Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive creator of Bitcoin, has long triggered all kinds of rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding the origin of Bitcoin. Understandably so — after all, nobody seems to have any idea about the true identity of the person (or group) masked by that pseudonym.
One such theory is that the U.S. intelligence apparatus had a role to play in the creation of Bitcoin. If you’re thinking it is just yet another ridiculous conspiracy theory bordering the shady area of urban legends, you would be mistaken. The proponents of this theory include even the likes of Natalya Kaspersky, co-founder of Russian-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
The Kaspersky boss made it to the headlines earlier this year after suggesting that American, British and Canadian intelligence agencies created Bitcoin as an alternative and faster funding option to support their overseas activities.
But how was Vitalik Buterin dragged into all these? Back in 2011, Buterin was part of a Bitcointalk discussion on the origin of cryptocurrency. A user named Bazil wrote:
“Satoshi never let anyone know who he was. […. ] 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.”
Buterin was among those who responded:
“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.”
The publication that brought the story to the limelight said that it tried contacting Buterin to confirm if it was him participating in that discussion. But the Ethereum cofounder didn’t respond.
Buterin Responds on Social Media
Shortly after the report was published, Buterin took to Twitter to dismiss the story as a “crazy misinterpretation” of what he said.
He explained that he never categorically implied that Bitcoin was a handiwork of the NSA but merely pointed it out as a possibility. The tweet read:
“I wouldn’t be surprised” = “10-50% chance”, not “claims it’s true.“
He also clarified that the controversial Bitcointalk post is seven years old, and his “opinions have obviously changed a lot since then.”
So that was Buterin clearing the air to get out of a seemingly unnecessary controversy. But what about you? Do you think the NSA had something to do with the creation of Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.