Craig S. Wright, a long-established computer scientist and the frontman behind Bitcoin SV, has called out the segments of the crypto community that are pushing for freedom from existing legal systems. In addition to calling out Silk Road and other dark net markets, Wright has also vocally challenged WikiLeaks. In a new blog post ominously titled “Careful what you wish for…” he states:
“I do not like Wikileaks, and I have never been a fan of Assange’s methods. More importantly, I am strongly opposed to criminal markets and bucket shops…They are not freedom fighters, they are not libertarians. They simply are predators, and they are all that Bitcoin was designed to make far more difficult.”
No Anonymity For Criminals
As far as illegal uses of blockchain technology are concerned, Wright’s opposition is fairly straightforward. In his blog post, he denounces cybercrime and illicit activity while also praising the capacity for blockchains to be operated within the limits of existing laws. He also argues that blockchain privacy should only exist within legal limits, and that criminals should not expect anonymity. As Wright explains:
“Any blockchain is able to be controlled and made to work within the legal frameworks of where it exists. It does not stop government taxing, and it does not bring down banks…No blockchain will ever be crime friendly… The audit trail allows the authorities to track from one criminal to another.”
In his blog post, Wright additionally calls out the Lightning Network, a crypto payment platform that is compatible with Bitcoin and Litecoin. Wright says that off-chain channels like Lightning only exist to evade the law and create a successor to the Silk Road. Ironically, Wright’s criticism comes just days after Bitcoin SV itself became the target of a controversy concerning illegal content hosting. Illegal activity, clearly, is not an isolated issue.
WikiLeaks Strikes Back
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks, as a whistleblowing organization, has become critical of Wright’s enforcement-friendly views. On Twitter, the group has called out Wright’s “pro-state” sympathies, repeating Wright’s claim that he worked for “the prosecution” during his time in the forensics field—while also noting that Wright is attempting to escape prosecution himself.
Serial fabricator who claims to be inventor of Bitcoin, Craig S. Wright, now claims that Bitcoin was always pro-state and that he always worked for the prosecution, as he tries to raise money for business project and escape court action. https://t.co/sKgJ0240vl
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 12, 2019
Of course, WikiLeaks also has a vested interest in the anonymity of cryptocurrency. Centralized payment platforms such as PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard banned WikiLeaks in 2010. Although WikiLeaks now accepts those payment methods through a separate foundation, the site largely relies on anonymous crypto donations. Clearly, it finds cryptocurrency a valuable resource in light of past enforcement efforts.
However, WikiLeaks has also been engaged in a more petty battle with Craig S. Wright. Wright has often claimed that he is the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakomoto. Almost as often, WikiLeaks has claimed that Wright is not the actual inventor. Few people, if any, believe that Wright is Nakamoto, but the rumor has somehow managed to gain traction and turn into an unholy war.
In other words, this particular battle should be taken with a grain of salt—but the conflict between WikiLeaks and Wright does reflect a larger division in the blockchain world. Laws and regulations are increasingly brewing controversy, and the debate between compliance and freedom will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future.