Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Bitcoin "Lab Leak" Theory

In the late '80s and early '90s electronic cash was a hot topic among cryptographers. People such as David Chaum published extensively in journals such as Springer's Advances in Cryptology. Staff at the US National Security Agency (NSA) were naturally interested in developments in cryptography, so on 18th June 1996 the NSA's Laurie Law, Susan Sabett and Jerry Solinas reviewed the academic literature on electronic cash and published HOW TO MAKE A MINT: THE CRYPTOGRAPHY OF ANONYMOUS ELECTRONIC CASH :
This report has surveyed the academic literature for cryptographic techniques for implementing secure electronic cash systems. Several innovative payment schemes providing user anonymity and payment untraceability have been found. Although no particular payment system has been thoroughly analyzed, the cryptography itself appears to be sound and to deliver the promised anonymity.

These schemes are far less satisfactory, however, from a law enforcement point of view. In particular, the dangers of money laundering and counterfeiting are potentially far more serious than with paper cash. These problems exist in any electronic payment system, but they are made much worse by the presence of anonymity.
Alas, this understandable effort by NSA staff has become the keystone in a bizarre theory that Satoshi Nakamoto is an alias for the NSA, who developed Bitcoin in secrecy as a "monetary bioweapon" a decade before it somehow leaked and infected the world.

I must apologize that, below the fold, I devote an entire post to this conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Brief Remarks to IOSCO DeFi WG

Earlier this year I was invited to take part in a meeting of the DeFi Working Group of the International Organization of Securities Commissions' Fintech Task Force. IOSCO is the organization that links securities regulators worldwide. The goal of the meeting was to provide input for a follow-up to IOSCO's Decentralized Finance Report from March 2022. I was asked to keep this confidential until the report was published, which has now happened; Policy Recommendations for Decentralized Finance (DeFi): Consultation Report.

Below the fold is the text of my brief introductory remarks with links to the sources. I will discuss the report in a subsequent post once I have studied it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Microsoft Keys

Back in 2021 I gave a Talk At Berkeley's Information Access Seminar that summarized two long posts from two years before that:
On Friday 25th Dan Goodin had two posts documenting that even the biggest software companies haven't fixed the problems I was talking about:
Below the fold I update this sorry state of affairs, which I first started cataloging a decade ago.