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Bitcoin Privacy

Should Newsweek Have Outed Satoshi Nakamoto's Personal Details? 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the fame-and-misfortune dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman spent months tracking down the mysterious founder of Bitcoin, "Satoshi Nakamoto," a name that everybody seemed to believe was a pseudonym for either a single individual or a shadowy collective of programmers. If Satoshi Nakamoto, former government contractor and model-train enthusiast, is actually "Satoshi Nakamoto," Bitcoin founder, then he's sitting atop hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto-currency. Does the article's exhaustive listing of Nakamoto's personal details place his security at risk? Many in the Bitcoin community think so, and poured onto the Web to express that opinion. The Newsweek article has raised some interesting questions about the need for thorough journalism versus peoples' right to privacy. For example, should Goodman have posted an image of Nakamoto's house and car, even though information about both would probably be relatively simple to find online, anyway?"
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Should Newsweek Have Outed Satoshi Nakamoto's Personal Details?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @01:53AM (#46425899)

    And would the "real" Satoshi Nakamoto say anything different? It's pretty clear that whoever is behind bitcoin does not want the spotlight -- they could be on pretty much any media outlet they chose by now if they wanted. So why would anyone in their right mind take a denial as absolute proof that he isn't the "real" Satoshi Nakamoto, when that is more or less exactly what a reasonable person would expect the "real" Satoshi Nakamoto to do if identified?

  • Abhorent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday March 07, 2014 @01:54AM (#46425903)

    I found the story abhorent. Them showing up on his porch and confronting him as he was coming through the door with cameras like he's some criminal was equally disgusting.

    He's not famous, he's not a public figure, he's just some random guy they wrote a big story about and then confronted him like he's a movie star and they were paparazzi scum. I think newsweek and the people involved should burn in hell for what they did. When I read the story and saw the photo's and video I almost gagged at the complete lack of any kind of morals the people involved have for doing this. I will not be offering them any kind of future business because of this. Just like I don't frequent TMZ because of their paparazzi BS, I won't be reading NewsWeek anymore.

  • The more I read... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kajong0007 (3558601) on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:04AM (#46425943)

    The more I read about Dorian Nakamoto, the more I want him to be Satoshi. That would make it an even better story.

    Unfortunately as it stands, this is just a story of a journalist with an obsession and some amount of tunnel-vision. The more you want something to be true, the more blind you are to evidence against it.

    At least he got a free lunch.

  • Re:Bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:04AM (#46425945)

    It's just bad journalism all around. There's nothing newsworthy about chasing people around their front yard and ringing their doorbell at all hours.

    Journalists used to have a little class.

    pass that shit you're smoking bro

  • Yes. No. Maybe. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:17AM (#46425995)

    You have to set aside first whether or not this is Satoshi Nakamoto. Assume it was the victim of a terrible crime, or assume it was the perpetrator of that terrible crime. If you start saying it's okay for one to be outed, but not the other, you're already on shaky grounds of having to somehow define which is which in what case. You can argue "we can decide that on a case-by-case scenario", but then you'll inevitably overstep the boundaries. Doing a mea culpa and saying you're moving the boundary a bit is great for the future, but doesn't negate the overstepping that has already occurred.

    So, that out of the way.. I think at the heart of it are two things:

    1. The author's suggestion that this information is already public; and, given that she did indeed find the name through public records and went from there, one could argue that if it's already public, it doesn't matter that she published it all conveniently in one place.

    Or does it? Considering the information was indeed public, but nobody bothered with it until this article, and considering the response it has gotten (overwhelmingly: great journalism in finding the person, questionable journalism at best in publishing the details), clearly it does matter when you start aggregating all of those bits and pieces into a single document; doxxing.

    Some countries even have laws against doing that, fully acknowledging that the individual bits and pieces may well be public, but that aggregating them is not allowed.

    2. Whether or not these details added anything to the story besides sensationalism. I.e. the photo of the house which included house number; would the story have been worse, or less believable, etc. if that had been blurred out? While the internet sleuthing machine would undoubtedly have found the address without that bit of information eventually, it would certainly have taken substantially longer. Imagine next that there were no picture of the house, merely a description that the person lived in just an ordinary house. Now the internet sleuthing machine (and that includes other media) have a monumental task ahead of them; it could be any house in the city mentioned. Would you have taken the author's word for it, though? The evidence that they had found the person they were after would have to be a lot stronger to lend weight to words than does a picture - human nature tends to do that.

    Think of interviewees who agree upon the interview as long as they are not identified and are made unrecognizable (silhouette shots at best, voice warbled). This could be anybody making up any sort of story. The reason we often trust these interviews anyway is because what facts said can be verified, and because we tend to trust the interviewer based on their reputation.
    We generally don't say "well unless I can see the person's face and hear what they sound like, I'm going to dismiss this interview".

    You have to think to yourself how low the trust in the author of this piece has to be, and how shaky the facts on the actual subject material ("is this person Satoshi Nakamoto?") , that they saw no other recourse than to release personal details that could be verified instead ("we don't know truly if this is Satoshi Nakamoto, but it is 'A Guy', and 'A Guy' can be found here, go ahead and look him up for proof that it is 'A Guy'").

    Reputable investigative journalists usually allow people who don't want to be found to remain 'not found', no matter how much bits and pieces of public information end up pointing to them; be that victims or perpetrators of terrible crimes. Without that, they're just the next doxxing TMZ, chasing people downs streets with cameras and pummeling them with leading questions.

    Note that I'm just as opposed to doxxing of the author in question. While it seems like just deserts, it's really just perpetuating the problem. Rather than attacking the author, it would be more interesting to get an in-depth interview with her on her motives, thoughts (before/during/after), etc.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:28AM (#46426027) Journal

    I think it's absolutely wrong to out someone who is actively trying to remain out of the spotlight

    Let's say for argument sake that it is accurate. That is the bitcoin owner, who isn't spending any of the bitcoins.

    The person does not want to talk about it. If he is serious about that, waving microphones in front of the man is NOT going to encourage him to be forthcoming with personal stories.

    So what does it change? Nothing!

    There is no benefit to anyone. Now if the guy wanted to open up and share stories, that is what the media is hungering for. But he isn't doing that.

    The BEST thing the guy could do is say "Yes that is me. I have nothing more to say, and I don't think I ever will. Now get off my lawn." and then refuse to say anything more. In fact, judging by the story, that is EXACTLY what he did say. There is no story or controversy around it. This is just some guy who has access to something valuable.

    Some of the media folk may want to ask him questions, hoping to make a buck when he shares a story, but if he chooses not to share anything they'll quickly lose interest when the next something shiny comes around.

  • In fact, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @04:06AM (#46426285)

    In fact, there is at least one Satoshi Nakamoto in Japan who claims to be bitcoin's inventor (though nobody believes him, of course).

  • Re:But He Isn't (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday March 07, 2014 @04:25AM (#46426333) Journal
    Coincidences happen. There's a guy sharing my first and last name (my last name is very uncommon; it's spelled in an unusual way), went to the same university and faculty, and wrote his master's thesis on a subject close to my line of study. He's about my age, too. People often mistake us on LinkedIn, and I get asked sometimes about certain papers he wrote (he remained in academia). Sometimes it takes some effort to convince people that I am not the other guy.

    I'm just glad he's not a criminal... or founder of a cryptocurrency.
  • Re:But He Isn't (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raumkraut (518382) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:46AM (#46426861)

    So an "official" SN account has denied this being the "real" SN.
    The question I ask is: Why didn't that "official" account post a denial for each of the other times someone has been suggested to be "the guy"? Why does this Satoshi Nakamoto get a denial, and not the others?

    Methinks he does protest too much.

  • Re:But He Isn't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chad_r (79875) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:41AM (#46427615)
    Or pick the name of someone who was involved in secret IT contracts with the US government, who changed his name, and who is now paranoid about privacy.

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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