Fresh from our inboxes on Wednesday:
They remind us, as if we needed reminding, that:
Mais bien sur! They continue (emphasis ours):
If all of that makes little sense to you, it’s because this case is rather a strange and complex one, even for Craig-Toshi himself. What he is alleging is that a year ago, someone managed to hack into his computer and access the private keys to the addresses of two bitcoin wallets, which contained more than $3.5bn at current market rates (though rather a lot less than that at market rates of a year ago, given bitcoin’s recent sharp rally).
But Wright is not going after the hackers. Oh no that would be much too simple. Wright is taking action against the developers, as in the people who write the code, of bitcoin; bitcoin cash (BCH); bitcoin cash ABC; and, bizarrely even bitcoin SV, which is his own branch of bitcoin (yes these days there are multiple bitcoins).
That’s not because he believes the developers are the ones who stole his bitcoin, but because he believes that bitcoin “was designed to work within the law” so that illegal activity could be reversed. In other words, Wright believes that the idea that the blockchain that underpins bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies should be “immutable” — what might fairly be called its USP — is wrong. So while he does not believe that the developers are at fault, he is taking legal action against them because he believes they have the ability to return the coins that he says have been stolen from him — ie, to make the blockchain . . . mutable.
We are not quite sure how many developers he is going after with his case, but in order for Wright to succeed, he would need to have more than 50 per cent of the nodes that keep the various blockchains running agreeing to reverse the transactions on these stolen bitcoins. So does Wright believe that the system is far more centralised than we are led to believe?
The whole thing seems rather odd. We asked why this $3.5bn worth of crypto was only kept in just two wallets, given that was a bit of a security risk, and Craig replied:
We should also point out that his PR also told us:
So we’ve held back, here, from the kind of crime-condoning we’d usually do.
Update 13:20pm: Craig Wright’s team has been in touch to clarify he is not asking for the network to be rendered immutable, but rather to have the stolen tokens replaced with new ones, all with a full train and under court order.
The idea, it seems, is to ensure both the thief and the victim can keep the money. This differs to a conventional payment network, where an illicit transaction can be reversed, thus reimbursing the victim but also confiscating the proceeds of crime from the thief. The question then is: who is on the hook for reimbursing the victim?
Related links: Bitcoin’s lien problem - FT Alphaville