While Americans were going to the polls Tuesday, Upstart Business Journal’s Michael del Castillo reported that Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed and Darkwallet was announcing his own candidacy for the Bitcoin Foundation’s board — and his motives for running were quite clear. Wilson told del Castillo:
"I will run on a platform of the complete dissolution of the Bitcoin Foundation and will begin and end every single one of my public statements with that message."
It’s nothing personal, Wilson told del Castillo; it’s just that Wilson feels the foundation’s entire existence runs counter to the idea of an unregulated, decentralized economy, which many believe Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies could allow to flourish.
Wilson’s next chance to run would be in early 2015, when Gavin Andresen and Jon Matonis will both have individual seats up for election, according to the foundation’s website. Matonis resigned his position as the foundation’s executive director at the end of October, but he retains his seat on the board through the end of the year.
It is unclear how, in practice, Wilson would actually get elected. “Nominations, as well as voting for candidates, must be done by current Bitcoin Foundation members,” the organization’s website reads.
Bitcoin Foundation's Evolving Role
The foundation has grown this past year to include 10 affiliates around the world, but there have been notable instances where members of the Bitcoin community have expressed their dissatisfaction with the organization.
Perhaps Bitcoin’s most prominent spokesman, Andreas Antonopoulos resigned as a foundation member, citing what he called “a complete lack of transparency.”
New executive director Patrick Murck addressed that issue in his October 30 blog post on the foundation’s website introducing himself and his plans as the new executive director.
“First, we need to repair our relationship with the Bitcoin community,” Murck wrote. “To do that effectively we may have to take some risks around communications and transparency to show that we can be honestly engaged with the community. That means we may not always say exactly the right thing and we might not always be on message, but we will be authentic in how we interact with the community in the future and I hope that you all get to know the people who work hard to make the Foundation go.”
In the same post, Murck wrote that the foundation's new focus would be on “standardization through the bitcoin core reference implementation and actively supporting the people building the critical infrastructure that powers bitcoin.”
Darkwallet and Defense Distributed
The 26-year-old Wilson already has a noteworthy track record of developing tools that empower the decentralization of users’ lives, to put it as neutrally as possible.
These projects include Defense Distributed, a non-profit that makes the Ghost Gunner, a 3D printer that turns out a fully functional firearm; and Darkwallet, a Bitcoin wallet that is designed to improve upon the currency’s pseudonymity features and make transactions totally anonymous.
Both the Ghost Gunner and the Darkwallet are scheduled for public release by year’s end.
Wilson has had trouble recently with payment processor Stripe. Wilson said on Monday that Stripe had told him it would no longer support payments to any of his companies for breach of its terms of service.
“In my opinion, destroying the Bitcoin Foundation will be viewed as no more than some ineffectual crypto-anarchist publicity stunt,” said Nathan Wosnack, COO of uBITquity.
“[...] Other organizations exist already, so he'd need to run on a platform to destroy those, too. If the concerns are lobbying, the relationships between these groups and Washington, DC, are already being forged, so if he's concerned about collusion and perhaps a lack of transparency, why doesn't he call out all of these and call for their destruction? Perianne Boring from the Chamber of Digital Commerce, for example, wants her organization to be 'the authoritative voice for Bitcoin in Washington.' Frightening words.
“So, it will be hers and other organizations (DATA, Coin Center, the Digital Chamber of Commerce and the Global Bitcoin Alliance) that speak for everyone, including the companies that they represent (and compete against). Many in the community, understandably, have pushback. Speaking personally, as a voluntaryist, I tend to side with Cody Wilson on this. However, in my view he should aim higher and call for all of their destruction, and a community rejection of their existence since any relationship forged with the state, which has a monopoly on force, is arguably another step away from freedom for its global users.
“Also, what mechanisms will these organizations have in place that give total transparency, accountability and assurances against corruption? While I don't doubt these organizations' commitment to doing the right thing, as the age-old adage goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Bitcoin and the blockchain already give us transparency and accountability.”
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