Highly-respected and Vocal BitGo Engineer Targeted with SWAT Prank
On October 16, Jameson Lopp, the lead engineer for BitGo and a highly respected figure within the cryptocurrency sector, fell victim to a cowardly attack which involved him looking down the barrel of a rifle and a false hostage situation report.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Lopp revealed that the attack led the local police department to shut down most of his neighborhood to investigate the incident with “dozens of patrol units, a SWAT team, mobile command post, a fire truck, and paramedics.” While Lopp gave reassurances that the police were able to deal with the incident, he noted that it was “a huge waste of public resources.”
A Personal Attack Launched by Bitcoin Supporters With Opposing Views?
Many experts, investors, and users within the Bitcoin community were saddened by the incident and the attack that was made against Lopp, who has been an important figure in the space for many years. Bitcoin Core developer BTCDrak, EtherPlan founder Donald McIntyre, Bitex partner Santiago Siri, Yours CEO Ryan X. Charles, Ethereum co-founder Hudson Jameson, and many others community expressed their compassion for Lopp, and offered any assistance he may need to cope with the situation.
In response, Lopp stated:
“Thankfully, it ended without an incident. It’s a price you have to be willing to pay when becoming an outspoken public figure.”
A substantial portion of the Bitcoin community was particularly angered and saddened by the fact that someone within the Bitcoin ecosystem had likely planned such a senseless act on a public figure, merely because of Lopp’s viewpoint toward the Bitcoin block size debate.
Although Lopp told TechCrunch that he cannot conclude with absolute certainty that the attack was carried out due to his philosophy on Bitcoin and scaling debates, he explained that similar attacks had been carried out against prominent Bitcoin experts, investors, and public figures.
“Same old same old: Bitcoin philosophy and scaling debate arguments. A few of the more extreme cases think I’m some kind of manipulative monster. The attacker never made any references to my public debates, so it’s not a certainty that they were motivated by them. They may simply want to extort me, similar to what has happened to several other prominent Bitcoin folks,” said Lopp.
Why Such an Incident Does Not Benefit Anyone in Bitcoin
Many individuals and organizations within the cryptocurrency community have opposing viewpoints on what cryptocurrencies should be, should offer, and how they should be structured. Even within the Bitcoin industry, there are several communities that oppose the philosophies of one another. In November, within a month from now, a group of companies, developers, and miners that oppose the views of Bitcoin Core is set to create another fork, known as SegWit2x.
Pseudonymous aliases and identities in the cryptocurrency development communities have their advantages (as well as obvious drawbacks); they allow discussions and developments to be facilitated in a truly open-source and peer-to-peer manner, as to how Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, envisioned the cryptocurrencies to operate.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are trying to compete with the global banking systems and existing authorities to provide an alternative decentralized system for the general public. It is of the utmost importance and benefit of the entire community that cryptocurrency users, investors, businesses, developers, and miners look out for each others’ interests and proceed with developments in an efficient, transparent, and secure way.
Incidents such as the recent threat that was made toward an important figure for the cryptocurrency community could discourage the maturation of the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industries, with outsiders looking in perhaps put off by the toxicity of the debates. Such incidents should not reoccur for the benefit of everyone within Bitcoin and the protocol itself. While Lopp stated he was not intimidated, attacks like this may become worse and risk intensifying the schism in the community even further.