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Uncovering Satoshi Nakamoto: The Reality Behind New Email Claims

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • New emails that surfaced in the Craig Wright vs COPA case has offered clues as to the identity of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • But industry leaders have cautioned against trying to decipher Nakamoto's identity from the clues, deeming such work irresponsible.
  • Various Nakamoto candidates have faced varying personal and familial distress from other attempts to establish Nakamoto's identity.
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Emails presented as evidence in the case of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance vs Craig Wright trial give clues as to Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity. But industry leaders say it is better to let things be after Hal Finney and his wife Fran suffered extortion threats.

Strike CEO Jack Mallers and Bitcoin podcaster Peter McCormack have criticized attempts to decipher Nakamoto’s identity from new emails.

What Emails Reveal About Satoshi

Last week, prosecutors of Craig Wright’s claim to the identity of the Bitcoin creator unsealed email evidence revealing new facts about the mysterious Bitcoin founder. Among the facts revealed were that Nakamoto sent emails from the Pacific timezone and solicited project donations in euros. Hashcash inventor Adam Back, a candidate for being Nakamoto, contributed the new evidence.

The new information excited the crypto community as it added to the lore of the mysterious founder. But it also elicited caution that the temptation to use the information to identify Nakamoto’s real-world identity was irresponsible and childish.

Jack Mallers, the CEO of Bitcoin payments company Strike, said that speculating on Satoshi’s identity was immature. He likened it to a “group of frat brothers trying to climb up the social curve.” Bitcoin podcaster McCormack said it was wrong to ‘dox’ or unveil the real-world identity of pseudonymous actors.

Read more: Anonymity vs. Pseudonymity: Understanding the Key Differences

satoshi nakamoto bitcoin anonymity
Visibility of Bitcoin Transactions | Source: Khan’s

“Any public speculation about who Satoshi is based on the email dump is irresponsible. Doxxing, right or wrong candidates, introduces serious risk to them and their family,” McCormack said.

In addition to the clues about Nakamoto’s identity, the emails revealed that Nakamoto aspired for Bitcoin to have 100,000 nodes. They also never wanted to pitch Bitcoin as an investment vehicle

What Doxxing Did to Hal Finney

Previous Satoshi candidates have faced harassment for their alleged links to the pseudonymous Bitcoin founder. Following the release of the new emails, Bitcoin core developer Matt Corallo warned that those who might be considered Satoshi because of circumstantial evidence face a very real risk.

“Ignore whether we should or shouldn’t, accusing someone of being Satoshi puts them at very real physical risk. There’s plenty of people who want to kidnap Satoshi seeking some bitcoin. Don’t do it,” Corallo pleaded.

Hal Finney, for example, who was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction, received anonymous calls demanding 1,000 BTC. Finney reportedly used his BTC to pay for medical bills. After he died in 2014, extortioners still harassed his widow, Fran Finney.

Read more: A Basic Guide On How Bitcoin Transactions Work

Adam Back, the inventor of the blockchain hashing algorithm used in some cryptocurrency mining software, faced a lawsuit for refuting Australian computer scientist Craig Wright’s claim of Bitcoin’s invention. Wright later dropped the suit.

Japanese-American physicist Dorian Nakamoto said that accusations of being the Bitcoin inventor had caused his family “stress and confusion.” BeInCrypto reached out to Vitalik Buterin to comment on his experience as a known founder of Ethereum. Buterin had yet to respond by press time.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...