Raging Debate in Bitcoin-land: Should a Thief Get to Keep the Money?

When millions of dollars are stolen from investors, those investors usually want their money back right away. In the world of virtual currencies, it isn’t that simple.
After an unknown hacker raided an experimental online venture-capital fund called DAO in June and spirited away $60 million worth of a virtual currency called ether, the fund’s creators came up with a way to recover the money. But in a bizarre twist, a lot of their investors are arguing against using it.
The reason: Undoing the theft requires altering the computer code underlying the digital currency and its platform, and some adherents think that would be a bigger sin than losing millions of dollars.
The clock is ticking. The money is currently frozen in the alleged thief’s account, but the person will gain access to it over the next two weeks, developers say.
As soon as this week, the technologists who maintain the virtual-currency platform Ethereum are going to be called on to adopt a ‘hard fork’ of the software – essentially an update that will erase the transactions in the June raid.

This post was published at Wall Street Journal on July 14, 2016.

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