To the percentage of the population who know something about cryptocurrency and its history, the name “Satoshi Nakamoto” represents the reclusive creator(s) of blockchain technology and Bitcoin. It’s a mystery an intrepid crypto-journo recently tried to solve, by petitioning the two scariest institutions in America – the CIA and the FBI!
Right now, Satoshi Nakamoto is less a name, and more a trivia question in the conspiracy theory section of a quiz. To the clueless, he could be a Japanese WW2 admiral, a Japanese soccer player, maybe an actor. To those who know a little about crypto, he’s the mythical figure behind Bitcoin and the blockchain. Here’s how that quiz question would go:
Question: “Who or what is Satoshi Nakamoto and what is he famous for?”
Answer: “Satoshi Nakamoto is believed to be an alias, a fictional character, and is the name used by the individual or group who created the science behind blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. His name is also given as the creator of the first ever cryptocurrency – Bitcoin – in 2008.”
Satoshi Nakamoto – This Millennium’s Greatest Mystery
However, the answer to the question of who was/were the individual/individuals behind Satoshi Nakamoto is up there with who shot JFK, did Neil Armstrong really walk on the moon, was Princess Diana murdered and what happened to Lord Lucan, as one of great unanswerable questions of our lifetime.
Of course, because blockchain technology and cryptocurrency is only a decade old, the chances are high that the individual or individuals behind Satoshi Nakamoto are still very much alive, and doing an incredible job in keeping their secret. Whoever were to solve the mystery and expose Satoshi to be Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, or maybe Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger working in tandem, would pull off one of the great modern “scoops”, and guarantee themselves a degree of journalistic immortality.
Motherboard’s Intrepid Daniel Oberhaus
Founded in 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Vice magazine is a Canadian-American publication focused on arts, culture, and news topics which has a global circulation of 900,000 per month. Vice’s multi-channeled website Vice.com now oversees the magazine as well as Vice News on HBO. An indication of how influential Vice.com is can be seen by their Alexa rank of 85th in the US.
One of Vice.com’s channels is Motherboard, a hard-hitting investigative platform. Earlier this week, Motherboard’s cryptocurrency expert Daniel Oberhaus had the inspired idea of petitioning the CIA and FBI to find out exactly how much they knew about Satoshi Nakamoto. Unfortunately, Daniel kind of killed 90% of the interest in his article by titling it “The CIA ‘Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ It Has Documents on Satoshi Nakamoto”.
Despite the suspense-killing title, it’s a fun, informative and well written piece. The article begins with a wrap-up of all of the Nakamoto exposures that never were, including Ross Ulbricht whom the New York Times was convinced was the Japanese genius, to Craig Wright, who claimed to be Satoshi, but couldn’t prove it on any level.
Do The FBI & CIA Know Satoshi’s Identity?
Oberhaus decided to petition the two agencies in the world who between them probably know the answer to every question ever, the FBI and the CIA. Here’s how Daniel approached this scary duo:
“I decided to start broad and request all internal emails containing Satoshi Nakamoto’s name from the FBI and CIA. Agencies generally ask for these sorts of requests to be narrowed down with information you’re unlikely to have in advance, but sometimes they’ll just dump a trove of emails on your plate and say good luck.”
At the time of writing, Daniel is still waiting for a reply from the Feds. The CIA however was a different matter. After a month, he received this somewhat “terse” reply:
“the request (for the emails) has been rejected, with the agency stating that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the requested documents.”
Oberhaus then explains that this is what is known as a “Glomar response.” This is the CIA’s standard reply when it wants to avoid releasing information about open investigations. Apparently, so notorious and well known is the Glomar response, the CIA even parodied it with their very first tweet from the official CIA twitter account, tweeting:
“We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.”
So, for the time being at least, Satoshi Nakamoto remains THE great modern mystery of the 21st century. Long may he reign!