“Monetary bioweapon”: Is Bitcoin an invention of US spies?

The origin of Bitcoin is mysterious. A steep hypothesis: The US NSA is behind the cryptocurrency. The idea is quite old and not particularly convincing, but it is now getting new nourishment.

Bitcoin and the coronavirus have one thing in common: there are a lot of conspiracy stories surrounding them. When it comes to cryptocurrency, for example, there is a persistent idea that the US foreign secret service NSA is behind it. And she received new nourishment.

The origin of Bitcoin is actually not entirely clear. It was first outlined in a paper published in October 2008 under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto – shortly after the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, which massively increased the uncertainty in the financial system and thus fueled the global financial and economic crisis. Who is behind the pseudonym is still a mystery.

Bitcoin enthusiast Nic Carter, who has more than 300,000 followers on the social network X (formerly Twitter), has been claiming for years that the NSA had something to do with the invention of the cryptocurrency. The spy agency owns and develops cyber weapons and hacking tools. She also conducts research in the area of ​​cryptography, i.e. the encryption and decryption of communication.

“I call this the Bitcoin lab theory,” Carter posted, referring to the theory that the Covid-19 virus came from a government research lab in Wuhan, China. “I think, [Bitcoin] “was a dormant internal research and development project that a researcher thought was too good to let go and then secretly released it,” Carter said.

“Okamoto – Nakamoto”

He and his colleagues believe they have now found crucial evidence: a 1996 paper written by NSA employees entitled “How to Mint Money/Make a Fortune: The Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Money.” For supporters of an alleged NSA invention, this title convincingly suggests that Bitcoin emerged from a US espionage project. The paper cites the work of a researcher named Tatsuaki Okamoto – which is somewhat similar to the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. For some conspiracy theorists, this is also a sign of the NSA.

However, the content of the paper argues against the idea that Bitcoin is an invention of the NSA. It is simply an overview of cryptographic ideas that could be used for digital cash. The revolutionary thing about Bitcoin is that it is structured in a decentralized manner. In contrast, the NSA paper describes systems that rely on a supervisory authority. It also discusses how electronic money makes taxation and law enforcement more difficult.

“The idea that the NSA would develop a decentralized, trustless cryptocurrency as a ‘monetary bioweapon’ that would compromise the functions of its own government is implausible,” The Economist quotes cryptocurrency skeptic David Rosenthal as saying. The British magazine therefore draws another parallel between cryptocurrency and the coronavirus: both cannot be killed. Despite the crash last year, one Bitcoin currently costs $27,600.

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