One of the most debated topics in the cryptocurrency space is the identity of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
While some names often reappear as potential owners of the Satoshi Nakamoto identity, the wider community has still not been able to agree on a definitive answer over a decade after Bitcoin’s creation.
My goal today is to discuss weather or not knowing the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto really matters at this point, and why I personally believe having an anonymous founder might have benefited Bitcoin.
Essentially, there are two main reasons why I believe this:
- Privacy protects individuals from outside threats and enables digital immunity (good and bad)
- It’s harder to coerce the most trusted source if said source is unknown, improving overall censorship resistance
Of course, there are many exceptions – like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash – that have survived the perils of the regulated financial world.
Nevertheless, Bitcoin remains the most successful project, and not knowing the founder could have been the catalyst to trusting the code.
Individuals need privacy to innovate
One of the most interesting aspects of innovation is how it usually happens.
Even though some people may think big corporations like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Apple are incredibly innovative, it’s not usually these large-scale companies that make the biggest leaps.
There’s no doubt that they were once the most innovative companies during their creation and rise, but with size comes regulation.
Instead, the most innovative and disruptive companies are usually not really companies. They’re open-source software projects.
From Linux to BitTorrent and Open Street Maps (OSM), these organisations were built through open communities based on equal permissions and the same right to innovate.
Much like Bitcoin, all these technologies did not ask for permission. They just came to be.
I don’t imagine Google was happy to learn about Waze, the most downloaded GPS navigator app, using OSM as its infrastructure instead of Google Maps. And Microsoft certainly wasn’t enthusiastic about losing some of its market share to Linux.
My point is, private individuals are usually the backbone of innovation. They don’t do it for the money, they only care about a vision, goal, or mission.
Given the current panorama, we should argue – much like crypto evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos does in the video above – that individuals have the right to privacy, otherwise we’ll see less and less innovation happening.
Censorship resistance needs anonymity
The second point I would like to draw attention to is the fact there can’t really be censorship resistance without privacy.
Since Bitcoin’s main value proposition is to enable censorship-resistant money, not knowing who the project founder is could have been a blessing.
Looking at past examples like BitGold and E-gold, those projects were dead in the water because the people behind them could be coerced to stop or change how they worked.
By granting a high level of immunity to the team or person behind the wheel, the return is open-source code. Because it is open to verification, it can be audited in order to guarantee there are no hidden back doors or faulty functionality.
In addition, by making the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto private, we gain an extra layer of protection against outside threats.
The prize for the founder usually is a hefty portion of the total supply. In Satoshi Nakamoto’s case, this is around 5%, or one million Bitcoins.
Imagine knowing who owns all that wealth. Or to put it more accurately, imagine how many hackers and criminals would be after the private keys of the Satoshi Nakamoto address.
Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with such a scenario since the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto remains a secret.