Crypto Conspiracies – Fact or Fiction?

The following is a collection of speculative internet conspiracy theories and should not be taken as fact, or as the opinions of Hacked.

Cryptocurrency was born in mystery, and much of its young life thus far has been enveloped in the same enigma which followed its anonymous creator.

Such beginnings make fertile ground for conspiracy theories, and the noble denizens of the internet have not failed us on that regard.

There are probably too many crypto-conspiracies for any common journalist to cover in the space of one article; but we’ve got time for a few particularly juicy ones.

Before you go reaching for your tinfoil hat, be aware that some of these are tinged with a shadow of truth. Often times the theatre of the conspiracy theory distracts from the real issue at its core.

Bilderberg Bitcoin Conspiracy

This conspiracy has a few moving parts, but it can be summarized thus: The Bilderberg Group are really the ones behind Blockstream and the Lightning Network, and are responsible for crippling BTC so they can then control it via their own private methods.

If you remove the Bilderberg aspect from this equation then what you have is a fairly reasonable complaint. Depending on how you view it, you could easily make the case that Blockstream’s handling of Bitcoin has been poor; and big questions still remain over the Lightning Network’s ability to be truly decentralized.

Even back in 2016 community members were voicing these concerns, with Nodecounter releasing announcements like this:

“These Blockstream-paid Bitcoin developers (for the Bitcoin ‘Core’ software) are enforcing a limit on how much information can be transacted in Bitcoin. This is limiting the number of transactions to just 3 per second, approximately. Blockstream is concurrently developing a ‘solution’ to this problem, called the ‘Lightning Network’. This ‘solution’ is to be placed on top of the crippled Bitcoin network to allow it to scale. Blockstream will monetize the Lightning Network in the form of fees required to use their service.”

So where do the Bilderbergs come into it?

Well, in 2016, then president of AXA, Henri de Castries, invested $55 million in the Blockstream project. However, Henri was also president of another group – the Bilderbergs.

Another source of Blockstream’s funds was Digital Currency Group, which was headed up by Glenn Hutchins – Hutchins is also on the board of directors for the Federal Reserve.

So if we follow the money trail, then one could easily draw connections between the mainstream financial elites and Bitcoin.

Financial institutions have slowly started to dip in to the crypto pot in recent years; and the downside is that they bring their own methods along with them. Such shared interests and investments are common in the everyday business world – but crypto was supposed to be open-source; community driven and decentralized.

If one small group alone – Bilderbergs, or merely whales – can dictate the direction of Bitcoin, then what does that say for the ideals of the original whitepaper?

Corporate interference in blockchain and crypto tech is a growing concern which should worry us all, whether the Bilderbergs are involved or not.

NSA and SHA-256

According to this conspiracy, the NSA are behind the creation of Bitcoin is one that has been floated for years. The core proposition is that the NSA invented Bitcoin and have been using it as a way to observe and spy upon the population for years – with crypto users taking the role of guinea-pigs in a socio-economic experiment conducted by the government.

This theory hangs on the fact that the SHA-256 hashing algorithm used by Bitcoin was originally invented by the NSA, and published in a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) paper in the early 2000s.

It’s certainly true that the NSA was involved in the creation of the hashing algorithm, but that should come as no real surprise – the Tor Browser was created by the American military, and firms like IBM and Microsoft have been collaborating with government agencies on tech projects for years. IBM’s dealing with government groups (both domestic and foreign) goes back all the way to World War 2.

While it’s no stretch to imagine the government running rampant over basic human liberties, it’s also important to remember that governments want good cryptography to exist just as much, or more than, everyone else. And assuming the NSA could leave a backdoor in Bitcoin, how long would it be before it was discovered by the legions of hackers who pull open the hood of Bitcoin on a daily basis?

Another factor to take into consideration is that the Bitcoin code is freely available online in open-source form, and has been studied and pored over for almost a decade now.

Additionally, in 2016 the NSA revealed they were switching their cryptography methods to bolster them against the actions of hackers using quantum computing methods. This was accompanied by an announcement that they no longer considered SHA-256 to be secure.

Satoshi Nakamoto or CIA

In a video released by a group of anti-secrecy campaigners, it is alleged that the name Satoshi Nakamoto is actually a Japanese translation of Central Intelligence. According to this conspiracy, the idea is that Bitcoin has been a CIA project all this time, and they decided to play a joke on us by dropping hints about the name.

The truth about the translation of the name itself is not too far off: Satoshi is a Japanese name meaning wise, clear-headed, observant. While Nakamoto is a surname descending from the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan which means of central origin, or one from the middle.

Whether this constitutes proof in your eyes is completely up to you, but you should know that several Satoshi Nakamotos have been found both in America and Japan; including one Satoshi who claimed he was the enigmatic inventor of Bitcoin. However he was soon revealed to be no more than a lathe machinist.

Whatever your view of the conspiracies surrounding cryptocurrency, you’d be hard pressed to deny that they make for intriguing reading. More conspiracies are born every day; and it seems the lifespan of cryptocurrency may forever be enshrouded in the same mystery that characterized its invention, and its inventor.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.