Thursday, December 1, 2022

NIST Has Already Amended Its Controversial Bitcoin Cash Fork Description

NIST Has Already Amended Its Controversial Bitcoin Cash Fork Description

U.S. government standards agency NIST has reportedly already amended its draft description of Bitcoin Cash, after receiving several complaints from Bitcoin (BTC) proponents. The initial National Institute of Standards and Technology draft had suggested Bitcoin Cash represented the original blockchain and Bitcoin (BTC) was a fork, drawing howls of protest from the community.

Also read: CFTC Subpoenas Bitfinex and Tether Over USD-Pegged Token

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NIST Listens to Bitcoiners

Reddit user “bitradr” posted on the r/bitcoin forum an email response they’d received from NIST paper co-author Dylan Yaga, a day after the draft report was released for public comment. “Thank you for your comments. You, along with many others, expressed concern on section 8.1.2,” he said.

Yaga also included an amended version of the section, which now reads:

8.1.2 Bitcoin Cash (BCH or BCC1) In 2017, Bitcoin users adopted an improvement proposal for Segregated Witness (known as SegWit, where transactions are split into two segments: transactional data, and signature data) through a soft fork. SegWit made it possible to store transactional data in a more efficient form. However, a group of users had different opinions on how Bitcoin should evolve – and developed a hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain titled Bitcoin Cash. Rather than implementing the SegWit changes, the developers of Bitcoin Cash decided to increase the maximum blocksize (additionally the developers made changes to other aspects of the system, such as the difficulty adjustment algorithm). When the hard fork occurred, people had access to the same amount of coins on Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

1The ticker used for Bitcoin Cash differs depending on the exchange; some use BCH, some BCC

The new version — which, for the record, is still a draft and subject to further alteration — has removed one key section that drew the most ire. That was:

“When SegWit was activated, it caused a hard fork, and all the mining nodes and users who did not want to change started calling the original Bitcoin blockchain Bitcoin Cash (BCC). Technically, Bitcoin is a fork and Bitcoin Cash is the original blockchain.”

Though the wording was clunky and open to interpretation (particularly over what “caused” might mean) many saw it as misleading. The hard fork that created Bitcoin Cash (BCC or BCH) happened on August 1st, 2017, right after a requisite percentage of miners signaled support for a plan to implement SegWit. SegWit itself was activated by a soft fork 23 days later.

Draft Blockchain Report Still Open for Comments

NIST logoCommentators (both pro- and against) also wondered how NIST had come to include such a contentious description, and who might have influenced the authors to write it. However, Yaga did not provide any details on that matter in bitradr’s email.

The deadline for comments on the draft document “NISTIR 8202 – Blockchain Technology Overview” is February 23rd, 2018 — no doubt NIST will receive plenty more suggestions from all corners of the community and Bitcoin scaling debate before that day.

NIST is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce, with a mission to set measurement standards and promote industrial competitiveness. Its report, according to an announcement, is aimed at helping businesses become acquainted with blockchain technology and some of the key projects using it.

Do you have any more suggestions for NIST? Send them an email… then tell us in the comments here.

Images via NIST, Jon Southurst

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