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“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
The key feature of Bitcoin is that it is free from control by any single entity or third-party authority. I think that one of its most important qualities is the fact that it was introduced and originally fostered by its pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto, who hasn’t resurfaced since April 2011. No single person can exert undue influence over the Bitcoin network; Bitcoin has no leader.
But Bitcoin does have its pioneers. There are individuals, like Satoshi (who actually might have been more than one person), who have left trails where there was no path and brought us all to the point where we are today. Learning more about these pioneers is a Rabbit Hole worthy of exploration, which leads to topics as fundamental to Bitcoin as its technical underpinnings, the need for a new form of money and the importance of freedom from authorities. And it’s one we at Bitcoin Magazine are ushering more people into now, as we’re celebrating two somber pioneer anniversaries: The recent six-year anniversary of Hal Finney’s death, and the upcoming eighth anniversary of Ross Ulbricht’s prison sentence.
In addition to these pioneers, I’d like to recognize another who has boldly chartered a trail that speaks to one of the cornerstones of Bitcoin and what this technology means to us all. In 2013, CIA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the presence of multiple, pervasive global surveillance programs run by world intelligence agencies and telecommunications companies, revealing a depth and insidiousness that shocked much of the world. This revelation — and Snowden’s willingness to brave condemnation and ostracization in sharing it — has inspired many of us to seek out better privacy preservation and technologies that are free from government control. It forced countless people to question the role of authority in their lives at a time when everything around them was becoming irreversibly digital. In short, it solidified the need for tools like Bitcoin in the minds of so many.
Bitcoin Magazine hosted Snowden and some of his most direct comments about Bitcoin to date during the Bitcoin 2019 conference. The video from that event will drive interested viewers down a number of Rabbit Holes about surveillance, Bitcoin and privacy tech in general.
So here’s to Edward Snowden: a privacy advocate, American whistleblower and Bitcoin pioneer.