- See also:
NSA – HOW TO MAKE A MINT: THE CRYPTOGRAPHY OF ANONYMOUS ELECTRONIC CASH
- Did the NSA Outline Bitcoin In 1996?
The NSA was one of the first organizations to describe a Bitcoin-like system. About twelve years before Satoshi Nakamoto published his legendary white paper to the Metzdowd.com cryptography mailing list, a group of NSA information security researchers published a paper entitled How to Make a Mint: the Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash in two prominent places, the first being an MIT mailing list and the second being much more prominent, The American Law Review (Vol. 46, Issue 4 ).
The paper outlines a system very much like Bitcoin in which secure financial transactions are possible through the use of a decentralized network the researchers refer informally to as a Bank. They list four things as indispensable in their proposed network: privacy, user identification (protection against impersonation), message integrity (protection against tampering/substitution of transaction information – that is, protection against double-spending), and nonrepudiation (protection against later denial of a transaction – a blockchain!).
NSA: How to Make a Mint
The paper refers to David Chaum, whom Bitcoin aficionados know to be one of the earliest proponents of anonymous digital financial transactions. Chaum developed ecash way back in 1983, long before the large scale propagation of the world wide web. Chaum was a proponent of anonymity in transactions, with the express demand that banks and governments would have no way of knowing who had purchased what. So it is important to recognize that when we say “user identification,” we are not talking about user “accounts,” as the credit card industry has, but rather about the ability to digitally sign, verifying that the account is owned by the person who says it is owned by them. This implies the ability of a transactor to know for sure that they are sending the money to the right place in the midst of a given transaction.