Why Is Kim Dotcom Still Saying He Invented Two-Factor Authentication?

Dotcom is promoting an upcoming service, which by all accounts appears to be something about monetizing torrenting with micropayments of bitcoin
August 9, 2016, 3:10pm
Image: Wikimedia

Kim Dotcom (remember Kim Dotcom?) has eked out a notoriously lavish lifestyle by pivoting—first from phone fraud to file sharing, and now to bitcoin with a new project called Bitcache that nobody seems to know very much about.

Still, Dotcom is promoting the upcoming service, which by all accounts appears to be something about monetizing torrenting with micropayments of bitcoin, with some very bold claims. So bold, in fact, that they're actually not even true. Despite all the pivoting Dotcom's done, this claim has been a constant in his life, like the obscenely overstuffed bubble baths he keeps finding himself in.

In a video posted to Twitter, Dotcom claimed that Bitcache will succeed because he invented two-factor authentication, a security feature that's been adopted by giants like Twitter and Google.

I know how to create tech with mass appeal. I've done it for 20 years. #Bitcache will take #Bitcoin to the masses. pic.twitter.com/ECveM0qRXN
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 9, 2016

Kim Dotcom did not invent two-factor authentication, but he keeps saying that he did. Why does he keep doing this? Who knows, but it might have something to do with having a new product on the way that nobody knows anything about because he hasn't released any solid information on what it is or how it'll work.

In an email, Dotcom said, "My former company Data Protect has created the 'mobile network key' in 1994. A 2FA product that predates the 1995 AT&T patent. Claims that I wasn't first to innovate and market 2FA utilizing mobile phones are simply wrong."

Dotcom floated the claim in 2013, after Twitter implemented two-factor authentication. At the time, the file sharing baron threatened to sue Google and other companies that used the technology, which he claimed to have invented. The thing is, Dotcom does in fact hold a patent for two-factor authentication that was awarded to him in 2000.

This is probably a very nice thing to bring up at dinner parties, but not great for promoting a new product, because Dotcom isn't the only one to hold a patent in the US for two-factor authentication, and he's not even the first to get one.

An AT&T patent from 1995, Ars Technica reported at the time, describes two-factor authentication for pagers but notes that "it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that many other communications mechanisms may be used instead of, or in addition to, wireless paging devices. These mechanisms include, for example, cellular telephones, conventional wired telephones, personal computers, etc."

Still, it looks like Dotcom's strategy is working on some people. One user responded to Dotcom's video on Twitter by saying, "Didn't even know you invented two factor authentication. Learn't more from that video than I did at school today tbh."

If there's one thing Dotcom knows better than how to make a buck online, it's bluster.

This story has been updated to include comment from Dotcom.