Internet Shames Newsweek After Possibly Outing Bitcoin Creator
An article published by Newsweek today is making headlines of its own, as it claims to have identified the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. According to the article, he’s a Japanese American man living in Southern California, and he’s not too happy about the publication’s efforts to find him. Likewise, many readers and commenters online have taken Newsweek to task for “doxing” Nakamoto and his family.
That particular criticism came from Gavin Andresen, the lead developer of the BitCoin Project, who was interviewed for the article, and now is sorry he agreed to speak with the article’s author:
I’m disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) March 6, 2014
There are a few elements to the people’s negative reaction to the piece, but most of criticism comes from the fact that Nakamoto’s photo is featured in the article, not to mention a picture of his house and, until it was taken down after public outcry, a picture of his car’s license plate. Not only that, the article prints the names of his family members, very few of whom agreed to even speak with the author of the piece. In fact, the opening of the piece explains that Nakamoto called the police upon the author’s arrival to his house.
In short, there’s plenty that makes this piece seem like it’s crossed the line from “journalism” to “invasion of privacy.”
On the one hand, the identity of bitcoin’s creator is important, if for no other reason than the fact that the crypto-currency is becoming a more relevant aspect of our lives every day. To know who made it, how they made it, and why, could certainly be a help in terms of reckoning with what may be the future of money. If the man profiled in the article is indeed that man, it’s a good bit of reporting that brought his identity to light.
On the other hand, the piece lists the names of many members of his family, not to mention more than a few personal detailsabout his life, like health issues and his marital status, that really don’t have anything to do with bitcoin. Add those elements to photos of his house and license plate, and you open up a man to a major invasion of privacy beyond the article itself.
It’s a questionable act committed by Newsweek, and it remains to be seen what the end result will be. Clearly the online community isn’t especially happy about the piece—but it’d be a lie to say that people weren’t interested in reading what it has to say.
[Source: Newsweek, Forbes]