BBC's Interview of Dark Wallet Leads Discontentment Among the Community

BBC Click releases an interview of Dark Wallet developers, a footage that raises much emotions among the community as it is broadly qualified as 'biased' and 'fear mongering drivel.'

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BBC's Interview of Dark Wallet Leads Discontentment Among the Community

BBC Click releases an interview of Dark Wallet developers, a footage that raises much emotions among the community as it is broadly qualified as 'biased' and 'fear mongering drivel.'

On September 20, BBC television program Click released its final cut of its interview of Dark Wallet developers, featuring Amir Taaki and Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd. The episode showcases BBC journalist Jen Copestake as she comes visit the developers at the Bitcoin Squat in London.

Defined as a tool allowing to "make transactions done with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin almost impossible to trace," Dark Wallet raises the issue of money laundering, as well as terrorism funding, mentioned BBC Click.

In July, the Islamic State allegedly published a blog post stating the Sunni jihadist group supported both Bitcoin and Dark Wallet, tools that it noted would allow Muslims from across the globe to donate anonymously to the organization.

While the legitimacy of the document is yet to be proven, the television program underlines how the paper provides step-by-step instructions to stay anonymous online, and mentions that governments and banking authorities are "particularly concerned about how the Dark Wallet could be used".

When asked if Taaki would feel confortable knowing that extremists are possibly using his software to help fund their projects, the developer responded:

"Yeah, and in fact I shut down my Twitter account because they were shutting down IS accounts. I don't think trying to censor information is the way to go. You can't stop people using technology because of your personal bias. We stand for free and open systems where anybody can participate, no matter who you are."

Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd added:

"I think obviously terrorists will use it and the benefits certainly outweigh the risk. Obviously terrorists use the Internet, terrorists use freedom of speech and we've accepted that's a trade-off we must make."

Further, the coverage introduced Jamie Bartlett, the author of the Dark Net, who highlighted the importance of "the sort of libertarian fringes of the Bitcoin movement." The author added that while the intentions of both Bitcoin and Dark Wallet were political and followed an "ideological movement" aiming to fight for freedom from scrutiny, the risk for these technologies to end up in the hands of terrorists "may increase the calls for further regulation from governments."

Therefore, the author believes that the "public concern and public opinion about these technologies [would] change dramatically."

The libertarianism ideology underlying Bitcoin is broadly known by its users, if not supported. While the eventually of terrorist groups using these tools could indeed tarnish the image of Bitcoin, the BBC Click coverage was mostly interpreted by the community as a "biased" piece, which "portrayed [developer Amir Taaki] as a terrorist."

Several elements from the coverage show the BBC's "bias towards negative portrayal," stated /r/Bitcoin user adoptator.

In fact, the imagery, as well as the illustrations captions were few of those elements, according to user rmvaandr:

"Just take a look at the captions under the photos:

  • The team behind Dark Wallet live in a London squat
  • The Dark Wallet team says it's behind an "ideological movement"
  • Its apparent popularity with extremists is no concern to the Dark Wallet team

And other snarks like: ‘Although tipped as a future billionaire by Forbes magazine, developer Taaki spends his time living in squats around Europe.’”

"What a ugly, nasty and biased piece of drivel by the BBC," added user rmvaandr.

The discontentment even reached Twitter where user @BitcoinBetGuide directly tweeted to BBC Click and journalist Jen Coperstake:

@BBCClick @jencopestake piece about the #bitcoin dark wallet was lazy fear mongering drivel. Consider the implications of decentralised tech

— Bitcoin BettingGuide (@BitcoinBetGuide) September 20, 2014

But according to journalist and Bitcoin enthusiast Chris Ellis, this issue comes from the use of concision by big media organizations, "a form of broadcast media censorship by limiting debate on the rational of time allotment," according to Wikipedia.

Ellis, who was present during the interview, noted in a blog post that concision lead medias to "explore complex topics in a very narrow time form, which often leads to their audience being mislead."

Last week, Ellis invited several Bitcoin experts and industry leaders to discuss about this matter in a Google Hangout conversation.

To watch BBC Click's Dark Wallet developers' interview, you can either follow the official link or watch it on YouTube

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