According to a blog post by Coinbase CEO and co-founder, Brian Armstrong, the US-based exchange at least appears to be doing the right thing by its customers. Albeit after a huge backlash. Armstrong said that employees of Neutrino who had previously worked at Hacking Team, will transition out of Coinbase, and not join the team in London as originally outlined. There is no clear definition of what this “transition” will involve.
Armstrong admits to having “a gap” in their “diligence process”.
“While we looked hard at the technology and security of the Neutrino product, we did not properly evaluate everything from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company,” he wrote. “We took some time to dig further into this over the past week, and together with the Neutrino team have come to an agreement: those who previously worked at Hacking Team (despite the fact that they have no current affiliation with Hacking Team), will transition out of Coinbase. This was not an easy decision, but their prior work does present a conflict with our mission”.
This is at odds with what a spokesperson for Coinbase told Motherboard in February. After saying that the company didn’t condone the actions of Hacking Team, the spokesperson said that they “were aware that Neutrino’s co-founders previously worked at Hacking Team, which we reviewed as part of our security, technical, and hiring diligence”.
Mea Culpa Or A Public Relations Stunt?
The link between Hacking Team and Neutrino troubled many members of the crytpo community. The powerful exchange partnering with people who excelled in developing spyware for authoritative governments does not sit well with people who value privacy and control over their own data.
Armstrong knows this. He wrote: “Bitcoin – and crypto more generally – is about the rights of the individual and about the technological protection of civil liberties”.
But is his concern more about the backlash his company has faced with #DeleteCoinbase trending on social media?
He commented that the company “did not make the right tradeoff in this specific case”, but whether his mea culpa is genuine or not, remains to be seen.