A Bitcoin developer says that he is about to release a Bitcoin private key which has long been kept secret from the public, according to Coindesk.

The key activates a system alerting those running the software that their funds are in danger. The key was reported to have been entrusted to a handful of Bitcoin developers by the cryptocurrency’s creator.

Bitcoin core contributor Brian Bishop says that he has the key and is happy to release it to the public, despite the warning system being withdrawn in 2016 due to concerns about security issues. Another Core contributor, Greg Maxwell, explained back then, “The alert system was a frequent source of misunderstanding about the security model and ‘effective governance.”

The main issue was that some members of the Bitcoin community saw the key as usable, in that it might be able to control fees, impact mining, or even, with the key falling into the wrong hands, throw confusion into the space; none of these scenarios turned out to have any real credibility. Bishop has stated that he feels that now the time is right for revealing the key, promising users “an interesting show”.

The system which was overridden in 2016 with a new code, needs the former code to be revealed so that there can be no possibility of reputation attacks against those developers that hold it.

However, it appears that revealing the code is not quite as simple as it sounds as the reveal might impact on cryptocurrencies that used an older version of Bitcoin’s code and those users who haven’t disabled their original alert keys.

“If the copycats have not disabled the alert system, nor changed the alert key [public key], and if they have not sent what’s known as a final alert message, then once the [Bitcoin] keys are released, anyone will be able to send alerts on those [other] networks,” said Bishop.

Back in 2016, Maxwell was supposed to have tackled this eventuality by releasing the key at that time, eliminating any further potential of reputation attacks, but this wasn’t done.

Bishop says that he is thinking of releasing it soon, possibly next month at Lisbon’s “Building on Bitcoin” conference on 2 July.

 

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