Crypto Specialist Jameson Lopp: “No One Controls Bitcoin Or The Focal Point For BTC Development”

On Saturday, December 15, Jameson Lopp posted a lengthy post on Medium, which argued that no one controls Bitcoin. The direction Lopp took in explaining what many consider “the presence of control” was by explaining the overall operations of Bitcoin Core along with the Bitcoin Protocol.

Bitcoin Core As A Focal Point

Lopp first started his case by identifying Bitcoin Core as a “focal point” for the overall Bitcoin protocol, as opposed to a “point of command and control,” implying that if Bitcoin Core were to vanquish, a new focal point would come about.

He also gave examples that showed the “focal point for development” taking on different platforms, since the existence of Bitcoin:

“In 2009, the source code for the Bitcoin project was simply a .rar file hosted on SourceForge. […] In 2011, the Bitcoin project migrated from SourceForge to GitHub […] In 2014 the Bitcoin project was renamed to Bitcoin Core.”

Lopp went on to summarize the overall procedure involving verifying the integrity of Bitcoin Core’s code:

  • Anyone can propose changes that improve the software
  • Developers can review pull requests to ensure they are safe, implying once again anyone can comment on Bitcoin Core, as there is no barrier
  • If the pull request does not pose a problem, the maintainer will merge it
  • Core maintainers set a “pre-push hook” to avoid pushing unsigned commits to the repository
  • The Travis Continuous Integration system runs this script to check integrity of the history
  • Anyone who wants to can run the script to verify the PGP signatures

News outlet, News BTC also covered his work by simplifying things to “how bitcoin development works” and “testing the code coverage.” As per the outlet, who quoted Lopp, core contains maintainer accounts responsible for merging codes into the main branch, as noted above.

Each maintainer is said to contain their own PGP key, which is needed for the merging process. However, it has been argued that said keys can go compromised, “unless the original key owner notified the other maintainers.” While the keys are not necessary as secure as one would assume, it was noted that it wouldn’t be a simple task for an attacker to attempt anything regardless.

The moment the codes have been verified by said keys, it has been affirmed that the Bitcoin mainframe undergoes auditing, which include integrity checks to give an example.

In particular, Lopp started that,

“If the script completes successfully, it tells us that every line of the code that has been changed that point has passed through the Bitcoin Core development process and has been “signed off” by someone with a maintainer key.”

Code Testing

Lopp shared that every developer has access to the code and can test it by having the core’s GitHub repository cloned, which means each and every one works with the same code coverage.

As per his quotes:

“Each node operator governs themselves by ensuring that no one else on the network is breaking the rules to which they agree. This security model is the foundation for Bitcoin’s bottom-up governance.”

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