Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, tweeted out a bitcoin hash back in January 2017. The tweet was quickly deleted, but it led to a rumor mill speculating he had just let everyone know his password. That wasn’t the case, it appears the apparently random string “n9y25ah7” was a bitcoin blockchain based verification code.
The address only received pennies or less, by another address which received pennies or less. Some quick blockchain analysis suggests there are three or four hoops until we get to an address with a respectable amount of bitcoins, but how any of this moved is somewhat puzzling considering bitcoin fees are at a dollar or more.
What might be less puzzling is why Spicer might have used the bitcoin blockchain as a means of authentication because this was just days after Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, used the blockchain as proof of life by revealing the hash of a timely address in a much-publicized event.
That most probably raised bitcoin’s profile by revealing a somewhat unique use – proof of identity – in a very hard to forge manner, not much different than a PGP key. It may well be the case Spicer thought to use the same functionality for whatever reason, but that he did so is fairly significant.
Firstly, it shows bitcoin is now very much mainstream in America. It further indicates many within Trump’s administration are not only aware of bitcoin, but actually use it. Something we speculated before and after the election, with many guessing the new administration would be much more friendly to this space.
Whether that is indeed the case remains to be seen because, undoubtedly, the Republicans had far more pressing issues to deal with in their 100 days, including North Korea, Syria, the battles over immigration, and so on.
It is unlikely they have gotten to this space yet, but it is very telling that a highly senior member of Trump’s administration has used bitcoin, probably for authentication, suggesting he is aware of its functionalities and uses.
Many will ask whether it is a very subtle stunt or whether he actually did just use cutting-edge technology to perform a useful function, namely timely proof of identity? Who knows. What we can say is that hopefully, he was aware of the potential privacy implications because that address may now receive much scrutiny, including how funds came to it, how it could move with such low amounts when fees are so high, where did funds go, and so on.
Regardless, this is the highest ranking American official to show awareness of bitcoin and its use. A very first for this space.
Hat tip to Louise Mensch.
Featured image from Shutterstock.