Satoshi Nakamoto was a Tor user

“Show me your ID!” How nullius does KYC.

This is my first post on the Tor Project’s new forum. Accordingly, I should provide evidence that this new forum account is truly controlled by nullius.

Never trust unauthenticated claims of identity. Always demand and verify digital signatures.

Know Your Cypherpunks:

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Hash: SHA512

As of the timestamp of this signature, I claim this profile
on the Tor Project’s forum:

https://forum.torproject.net/u/nullius

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PGP key 0xC2E91CD74A4C57A105F6C21B5A00591B2F307E0C:
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5233083.msg54320576#post_nullius_pgp_key
(Modern keyservers strip too much information, so I primarily maintain my key there.)

Continuity may be assured by grepping tor-dev for posts that I (nullius@nym.zone) made a few years ago—signed with the same PGP key, with the same fingerprint in my e-mail signature line.

Selfie:
nullius_logo

Documenting the historical (and historic) nexus of Bitcoin and Tor

As I prepare some Tor Forum posts to help align different privacy communities, I will cross-post here something that I recently (2022-07-11) wrote on the Zcash Forum:


Famous is the fact that Bitcoin was created by a strongly pseudonymous developer, known only as “Satoshi Nakamoto”. Yet alas, obscure remains is the fact that Satoshi was a Tor user. I would not be surprised if the Tor people may be unaware of this…

My source on this: In 2013, theymos, the Bitcoin Forum’s administrator, said that “he [Satoshi Nakamoto] always used Tor, as far as I [theymos] can tell.” That forum was founded by Satoshi in late 2009, originally at www.bitcoin.org/smf/ before various URL changes; Satoshi did most of his circa-2010-era public activity there. I presume that theymos must have IP access logs from the Satoshi era. Accordingly, I take theymos’ statement as authoritative primary-source historical information for documenting Satoshi as a Tor user.

I have frequently cited that theymos post to push back against people who want to ban Tor users from cryptocurrency sites: “So, you would ban Satoshi from cryptocurrency? :roll_eyes:

Similarly, I have frequently cited “Satoshi Nakamoto” as an incisive two-word argument rebutting those are against pseudonymous crypto-developers. It has been my standard argument for years.


As appropriate, I may collect on this thread additional information about Satoshi’s Tor usage.

On the significance of Satoshi as a Tor user

I suggest to the Tor community that this is an excellent counterpoint against anti-privacy FUD.

Anti-privacy propagandists who want to confine everyone to a global panopticon misrepresent Tor as a tool for criminals with “something to hide”. Surveillance-capitalist sales spiels brand Tor as a tool for “hackers” perpetrating malicious attacks—as seen in the above-linked Zcash Forum thread.

The inventor of a trustworthy, fast-growing, high-value financial network used a pseudonym, and interacted with the public from behind Tor.

It is better-known that Bitcoin and PGP share DNA, via Hal Finney. As Bitcoin rises to take over the world, I have seen how persuasive it can be to inform people that the very first non-coinbase Bitcoin transaction was sent from a PGP user, Satoshi, to PGP’s original co-author, Hal. Similarly, Bitcoin is an historic symbol of a public good created by a strongly pseudonymous user of a privacy network. Satoshi concealed his “real” name. He hid his network location. He didn’t do KYC.

The public does not learn from facts, reason, logical argumentation. If they did, the world would be a much better place. People tend to follow popularity, and appeals to authority. You can waste hours futilely explaining in the most cogent terms why Tor is good. Or you can blow away years of FUD-propaganda with an exemplary usage.

Please help spread the word: Satoshi was a Tor user!

I’m not sure whether this is a smart idea, given the widespread disdain that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general now have among the general population (for instance, the recent 232-to-94 decision by Wikipedians to stop accepting crypto donations). This may really have the reverse effect, harming Tor and privacy.

Making the best of the Roe v. Wade decision to promote both Tor and truly private crypto (rather than Bitcoin) makes a lot more sense in my opinion.

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I think in regard to ‘marketing Tor’ you should use the words/arguments which suite your audience the most.
If you talk to people which are into cryptocurrencies your information can be useful.
If you talk to people which do not know that much (or nothing) about cryptocurrencies or think it is mainly for criminals, your information might not be that helpful. And this doesn’t only apply to Tor and/or Bitcoin. This apples to everything you want to promote.

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On Tor and Bitcoin.

As a Bitcoiner, I applaud the Tor Project for self-hosting its own BTC Pay Server to accept donations. The Tor Project even has a BTC Pay onion!

That is consistent with current basic best practices for privacy. It shows the Tor Project’s technical cluefulness. And on the Tor side, it mirrors with the widespread support for Tor in the Bitcoin community and in the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Bitcoin Core shipped first-class, out-of-the-box support for v3 onions more than half a year before the Tor Project’s v2 onion deprecation deadline. The Bitcoin Core website has an official onion. There is widespread demand for such things in the Bitcoin community. Although the Bitcoin Forum’s administrator has made some public critiques of Tor (not from any dislike for privacy—to the contrary, he has expressed concerns about how private it really is), he has always been responsive to the needs of Tor users; I speak from experience there. Tor-usage and Tor-friendliness are Bitcoin customs that started with Satoshi’s being a Tor user, and that remain strong today.

As a Tor user and as a pseudonymous Bitcoiner, I am always pleased to remind everybody in the entire cryptocurrency space that decentralized cryptocurrency was invented by a pseudonymous Tor user who never did KYC: “Satoshi Nakamoto”. None of the other blockchains would even exist today, if a Tor user with a secret identity had not published Bitcoin over thirteen years ago. Likewise, I am pleased to engage with the Tor community about these same issues.


On speaking to the audience.

That is an excellent insight.

I vaguely recall some time when one of the Tor Project leaders (IIRC, @nickm?) gave a talk to a law enforcement group, on the subject of how Tor helps the police. It is true: From undercover stings, to credibly taking anonymous tips, to communicating with informants in high-risk scenarios, Tor is an important tool for the cops!

Unfortunately, such observations tend to foment a backlash from people who do not understand the principle that you stated. It is not dissimilar to the conspiracy theories I saw in Monero venues, after Zooko made some public remarks on how Zcash is compatible with law enforcement. Hello, what is he supposed to say? “My company’s product facilitates unbridled lawlessness”? No, of course his company is socially responsible and positive towards efforts to stop crime.

When I explain Tor to people, I tend to moderate my own cypherpunk tendencies as needed. I never lie or equivocate, but I shift focus according to the audience’s interests and values. For instance, I once helped an elderly divorcée set up Tor Browser. Cypherpunks and crypto-anarchist manifestos were way out of bounds there—but oddly enough, I found that some mainstream media articles on the Tor Project’s work with domestic violence victim organizations gained instant sympathies.

Bitcoin is especially strong this way, because it is politically neutral. If the audience leans left, I focus on fairness, equality, and human rights. If the audience leans right, I speak of sound money and fiscal responsibility. All of these arguments are true—they are only different aspects of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is probably one of the few things in the entire world that Jack Dorsey and Ted Cruz can agree upon—and that, itself, is a part of Bitcoin’s fundamental value. Bitcoiners have a motto: “Bitcoin is for friends and enemies.”

I think that the only people who could be logically opposed to Bitcoin are those whose structural vested interests are threatened: Big banks, Wall Street, and especially, central banks. The big banks and Wall Street are now trying to adapt, to coöpt Bitcoin through the market; I take that as an implicit admission that Bitcoin has grown into a force with which they must contend. Nonetheless, I am pretty sure that I could somehow deliver a successful Bitcoiner speech to JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. On the other hand, central bankers’ interests irreconcilably conflict with Bitcoin. I do not think there is anything I could say about Bitcoin to an audience consisting of the BIS, the ECB, and the U.S. Federal Reserve—except maybe “so sorry, you are now obsolete.”

Similarly, some people’s interests irreconcilably conflict with Tor—for instance, people whose careers depend on surveillance-capitalism. Too bad: Nowadays, that is an awful lot of people. Worse: It categorically includes all of Big Tech. To the extent that some Big Tech companies have more or less limited support for Tor, they are conflicting with their own bottom lines—or perhaps, pretending to so as to score fashionable “privacy” points as they continue profitably to collect, warehouse, and data-mine information that is properly none of their business.


Hecoobuh, yesterday, I spent a long time writing a response to you. Unfortunately, Discourse is hostile to users it deems “new”—although I am not really new; I am a longtime part of the Tor community’s long tail of active daily users and occasional contributors. I gave up in disgust after Discourse rejected my post because I put too much time and effort into adding supporting links. (Why did it accept my OP? And why does that restriction even exists, when all posts here are pre-moderated by a human?) Well, let’s try again:

The “general population” is always susceptible to FUD.

Just like [the widespread disdain that strong cryptography in general now has] (https://forum.torproject.net/t/why-no-campaign-against-us-and-eu-anti-encryption-bills/3489) amongst the “general population” (prison language that somehow got popularized), yes? I perchance saw your thread about that when I came here before; I began to reply, but didn’t have time to finish it… Anyway, in my experience, it is more a matter of the mass-media and a few vocal parties with an anti-Bitcoin agenda. Not the public per se.

I would understand if you were to approach the issue differently; but your argument here comes off to me in a way analogous to how some people might suggest that every normal, decent person should stay away from uncompromised strong crypto, to avoid being associated with CSAM, terrorism, and whatever else duplicitous agitators want to smear crypto with next. (I mean, encryption. I was advocating for PGP in the 90s. “Crypto” still means cryptography to me.)

I also note that much of the current mass-media “disdain” for cryptocurrency is simply a matter of a bear market. The same publications that run fluff pieces and annoying hype in a bull market run FUD when the market is down. I do not limit myself to thinking in terms of market cycles.

“...the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

It reflects poorly on Wikipedia’s credibility—much like the time when Wikipedia deleted the Bitcoin article as not “notable”. If I may be so scandalous as to reference Marx, that was tragedy—this is farce.

I read the page you linked. Such as it was, the discussion was driven by misinformation from the current mass-propaganda designed to push POS—a subtle meta-scam for VCs to rip off retail, which unfortunately tends to fool some well-meaning people. Not that that was necessarily the objective there: That long, long page is dominated by a single Wikipedian who evidently has an axe to grind against all cryptocurrency—many of whose “arguments” were simply ad hominem insults against anyone who tried to discuss the matter rationally.

And I note, by the way, that according to that page, Wikipedia was using Bitpay. Bitpay is an evil company; it has been roundly condemned by Bitcoiners for the past five years. The open-source BTC Pay Server was explicitly created for the purpose of putting Bitpay out of business. (https://nitter.net/NicolasDorier/status/898378514256207872) Many Bitcoiners do not consider using Bitpay to be “accepting Bitcoin”, and refuse to interact with Bitpay in any way. If Wikimedia ever wants to start accepting Bitcoin donations, they should install their own BTC Pay Server like the Tor Project has.

`/etc/`

If your concern is really about a potential for alienating people (rather than your own opinions), that seems like a very odd choice. (So to speak.)

One of the great things about Bitcoin is that it is politically neutral and nonpartisan: Something that Jack Dorsey and Ted Cruz can agree about, as I noted above. Bitcoin can only alienate people who are essentially making up non-reasons to be anti-Bitcoin as a goal in itself; unfortunately, that can’t be avoided for anything.

Alienating the Bitcoin community would be a terrible idea for the Tor Project. There is a longtime custom of Tor support amongst Bitcoiners, in the Bitcoin ecosystem, and in Bitcoin development. I am sad to see that my cheerful post celebrating Satoshi’s Tor usage received such a negative response on the Tor Project’s forum, of all places.

I am both a Bitcoiner and a long-time, die-hard Zcasher. I made this thread here on the Tor Forum as a good “first post”, when I made an account to help with my plans actively to promote Tor in the Zcash community. That is important: A year after the v2 deprecation deadline, Zcash doesn’t support v3 onions—thus, it does not support onions; and the Zcash Foundation’s website is still blocking Tor, a week after I reported the issue. Nobody cares? Well, my name (@nullius) literally means ‘nobody’! I care.

To see whence I come, please read the Zcash Forum thread linked from my OP.

As a Zcasher, I am seeking constructively to improve the situation. But I don’t mind pointing out that none of these problems could ever happen in Bitcoin, due to widespread daily Tor usage amongst Bitcoiners.

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