From the start, people using pseudonyms to protect their privacy have been an integral part of the crypto sector, but as the market has matured since the early days, the question of whether these methods are still ethically sound is once again relevant. Forward especially for projects that have reached a certain degree of mainstream influence.
In this regard, American media and entertainment company Buzzfeed recently named two founders of Bored Ape Yacht Clubs (BAYC) – “Gordon Goner” and “Gargamel” – after Greg Solano and Wiley Aronov.
To clarify, journalist Kate Notopoulos recently wrote an article titled “We Found the Real Names of the Pseudonyms of the Founders of Bored Monkey Yacht Clubs,” in which she revealed the couple’s names by perusing public records linked to Yuga Labs, the company behind the group. . Yoga is recorded in Delaware in Solano’s address, while other entries refer to Aronoff.
On the same day that it was revealed, Yuga Labs revealed that their NFT group was in talks to seek funding with one of Silicon Valley’s largest venture capital firms, a16z, which valued the entire group at $5 billion.
After “doxing,” an informal term for posting personal information about a specific person online, Solano and Aronov took to Twitter to stress the importance of personal privacy, particularly in the context of Web3 and Web2.
Is doxing always ethical?
When a big company like BAYC, a company that raises billions of dollars annually, operates on a global scale, Notopoulos said it is imperative that its founders or CEO use his real name instead of a pseudonym, adding:
“There are reasons, in the traditional business world, a CEO or founder of a company would use their real name instead of a pseudonym. How can you hold them accountable if you don’t know who they are?”
To further bolster its position, she added, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires executives associated with US-listed companies to submit more information and reports, while smaller companies are subject to strict banking rules, as well as “know your customer” laws. It requires all managers to use their real names.
However, the “disclosure without consent” of the BAYC founders has drawn a number of criticisms, especially from those working in the growing Web3 ecosystem. For example, popular crypto software maker Colby called the press article “garbage” intended solely to attract clicks, and Messari founder Ryan Selkis echoed a somewhat similar sentiment.
But amid all these setbacks, Notopoulos seemed to remain relatively unfazed, claiming that she was doing what she had to do morally and journalistically.
Expert opinion is divided.
Gisele Nagel, COO of PhotoChromic, a blockchain-based digital identity protocol, told Cointelegraph that the identity protection issue is too complex/multi-faceted and difficult to solve, adding:
“To understand this, there are two main aspects of your personality – private and public. Pseudonymization works best when you have to trust that the person behind the identity is who they say it is and when sensitive information is being shared. But either way, the person must have complete independence in what they say. It depends on whether he will reveal his identity or not.
She added that a person’s identity is their greatest resource and that everyone, especially those working with digital technologies, needs to know how to put in place mechanisms to protect their information. “For the first time since the advent of the Internet, we are starting to see puzzle pieces come together to unleash the huge potential of a holistic view of the self,” Nagel said.
Similarly, Jaya Clara Breck, director of privacy technology launch strategy at Nym Technologies, told Cointelegraph that Buzzfeeds said the move was highly questionable, and it was becoming increasingly important to have stronger privacy protections as a result, especially as the industry continued to grow. .
Individual aliases are no longer enough, Brick said, adding that with tools that allow analysis of public records, traffic, and metadata now readily available on the open market, privacy issues are becoming more problematic. She said:
“We are moving quickly towards a greater privacy issue than ever before. Which in turn leads to discriminatory profiling and identification systems and prevents open access to technological resources. We need technologies that remain neutral, open and accessible to all.