As a disoriented Julian Assange attempts to fight extradition to the U.S. in the British courts, having earlier claimed to have made a 50,000% return on bitcoin in the years following Satoshi’s disappearance, it’s interesting to look back to that period – December, 2010 – when Satoshi’s retreat began and Wikileaks’ investment in bitcoin started being seriously discussed. This was a true fork in the road, significant not only to the history of bitcoin but also to state surveillance and those who would kick back at it.
You might wonder why Bitcoin’s founder was so alarmed by the news that Wikileaks was seeking to raise funds using the decentralized payment system. After all, bitcoin was designed to bypass gatekeepers and obviate the need for a central authority – and here was a perfect use case to prove its merits.
In response to a forum member positively touting Wikileaks’ embracement of bitcoin, published exactly one week before his final forum post, Satoshi said: “No, don’t “bring it on”… Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.”
The problem was very clear, as Satoshi saw it: unwanted government interest in the nascent digital currency was the last thing it needed at that point in time. And since just about every other payment gateway was refusing to process donations to Wikileaks, Julian Assange’s solicitation of donations via bitcoin seemed to be a matter of time. At the very least, Satoshi wanted such a move to be discouraged – and he conveyed as much to Assange, as recounted by the latter in a 2014 Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session and also in his book “When Google Met WikiLeaks”:
WikiLeaks read and agreed with Satoshi’s analysis, and decided to put off the launch of a Bitcoin donation channel until the currency had become more established. WikiLeaks’ Bitcoin donation address was launched after the currency’s first major boom, on June 14, 2011.
Interestingly, the besieged organization opened the floodgates for bitcoin donations just two months after Satoshi’s last ever correspondence – an email to collaborator Gavin Andresen.
The rest, as they say, is history: Wikileaks received tens of millions of dollars in bitcoin donations between 2011 and 2018 (the exact figure continues to be disputed), Assange spent years in London’s Ecuadorian embassy before being arrested, and in Satoshi’s absence, Bitcoin was to kick many more hornets’ nests only to emerge, each time, stronger.
Bitcoin History is a multipart series from news.Bitcoin.com charting pivotal moments in the evolution of the world’s first and finest cryptocurrency. Read part 18 here.
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The post Bitcoin History Part 19: Wikileaks and the Hornet’s Nest appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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