Block head Jack Dorsey’s new legal fund for BTC developers who refuse to honor their fiduciary obligations will push the modified blockchain protocol even further down the road to anarchic illegality.
Last week, Dorsey announced the so-called Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit entity established to assist BTC developers who find themselves under “legal pressure.” While Dorsey pitched the fund as a potential source of relief for all BTC developers, he and the fund’s two other board members will decide which cases they will support. To date, the only fund-worthy case involves (surprise!) the legal actions brought by Bitcoin creator Dr. Craig Wright following the 2020 theft of over 111,000 Bitcoin tokens via a hack of his computer.
Wright’s claims are intended to compel developers of the BTC, BCH, BCH ABC and Bitcoin SV blockchains to acknowledge their fiduciary duties to users of these blockchains who find themselves victims of theft. Wright is asking these developers to deploy the necessary code to restore his access to and control of his stolen coins.
To be clear, Wright isn’t seeking monetary damages from any of the centralized protocol developers; he only wants them to use the tools at their disposal to right a clear wrong. So far, the BTC protocol developers have shown no interest in complying and the deep-pocketed Dorsey’s financial support seems likely to further stiffen their spines. But in doing so, Dorsey has put himself on the wrong side of both history and the law.
After all, there is clear legal precedent for the developers being liable for the actions of their users, as seen in the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in MGM Studios v. Grokster, which found that distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software could be held responsible for copyright infringement by users of said software.
All the fun, none of the responsibility
On the surface, aiding the recovery of stolen property offers the opportunity for the kind of good press the blockchain community sorely needs right now to offset lingering concerns over widespread crypto-related criminality. As such, the BTC protocol developers’ resistance to assisting Dr. Wright’s coin recovery efforts—and self-professed BTC maxi Dorsey’s support for said resistance—suggests a more selfish justification is at play. It also shows that Jack Dorsey is already the centralized leader of BTC.
Wright’s development and promotion of the BSV protocol has led to his coming under fierce attack from the BTC developer community, particularly those affiliated with Blockstream. The latter’s Lightning Network—a layer 2 ‘solution’ of which Dorsey is an enthusiastic supporter—is only necessary because BTC developers refused to allow the original “Bitcoin” (in the form of BTC) to scale to handle a sufficient volume of transactions.
Twitter infamously suspended Wright’s account in 2019 for reasons that remain opaque (besides Dorsey’s obvious desire to keep Wright’s message from reaching the masses). Dorsey later acknowledged that Twitter’s ban of U.S. President Donald Trump bordered on political censorship, a situation Dorsey claimed to abhor but nonetheless used to promote BTC as “a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity.”
Dorsey appears to prefer a system in which he himself doesn’t have to face any hard decisions that might please half the world and enrage the other half, where he can just build things that make scads of money and earn loads of laudatory press coverage while someone else deals with the fallout. But the world isn’t about to let him off the hook that easy.
Not your keys, not your missiles
Consider North Korea’s ongoing hacking of crypto platforms, which Chainanalysis data shows earned the Hermit Kingdom nearly $400 million last year alone. These ill-gotten gains have undoubtedly helped fund the regime’s recent flurry of provocative missile launches; mafia-like moves intended to extract concessions from countries who don’t want to see these missiles topped with actual warheads and targeted at their shores.
No doubt law enforcement agencies around the world would eagerly welcome the assistance of blockchain developers in assisting efforts to take these stolen coins out of Kim Jung-un’s hands and return them to their rightful owners. But that apparently wouldn’t sit well with Dorsey, Blockstream or other members of the ‘censorship-resistant’ crowd.
In order to wash its stolen coins clean, North Korea reportedly funnels its crypto through ‘mixers’ that help obfuscate their origin. That presumably isn’t a problem for BTC protocol developers like Blockstream’s Adam Back and Greg Maxwell, who helped ensure last year’s approval of BTC’s controversial ‘Taproot’ upgrade that added new features intended to disguise transaction details.
No one, least of all Wright, is saying privacy is a bad thing. But insisting on privacy through complete anonymity, regardless of the circumstances, is dogmatic adherence to anarchic beliefs that spits in the face of long-established concepts of justice. The same can be said for the belief that Bitcoin transactions cannot and should not ever be reversed, even when evidence of a crime is painfully obvious to all concerned.
The notion that we live in a society that venerates justice and fair play is treasured by the bulk of the non-crypto population. Showing these crypto-skeptics that justice still prevails in a blockchain world will go a long way in furthering widespread adoption of the technology.
That should be the ultimate goal of BTC maxis like Dorsey, but instead they continue to press for a proprietary, self-beneficial state of affairs that preserves their jurisdiction over BTC at the expense of the greater good. As the old pro-union chestnut goes, which side are you on, boys?
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