Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Throws His Weight Behind Proposal To Increase Privacy In The NFT Space

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A developer proposes means to hide the identity of NFT recipients.

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, in a tweet today, shared the idea of stealth addresses for NFTs, noting that users would be able to send NFTs with only the recipient knowing who the new holder is, effectively keeping them anonymous.

“Idea: stealth addresses for ERC721s. A low-tech approach to add a significant amount of privacy to the NFT ecosystem. So you would be able to eg. send an NFT to vitalik.eth without anyone except me (the new owner) being able to see who the new owner is,” Buterin tweeted.

Notably, the original author of the proposal known as Nerolation opts to use Zero Knowledge technology, but Buterin proposes a lighter-weight technology model.

“The reason why you don’t need Merkle trees or ZK-SNARK-level privacy is that each ERC721 is unique, so there’s no possibility of creating an “anonymity set” for an ERC721. Rather, you just want to hide the link to the sender and recipient’s highly visible public identity (so, you can send an ERC721 to “vitalik.eth” and I can see it, but no one else can see that vitalik.eth received an ERC721; they will just see that someone received an ERC721),” Buterin writes explaining his point of view.

Notably, the latest idea from the Ethereum founder sparked debates about transparency in the comments. While some argue that it defeats the concept of transparency on the blockchain, others say that transparency is not necessarily a critical requirement for blockchain.

It is worth noting that Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin has taken up a stronger pro-privacy stance since 2018. In April 2020, Buterin also said that he was looking to find a solution to the Ethereum Naming Service problem that unwittingly opened the doors for the crypto finances of people who used their real names to be easily scrutinized. 

While some flee to crypto for the level of privacy it can provide, it is also worth noting that bad actors have also taken advantage of tools like Tornado Cash developed by Ethereum to transfer stolen crypto. Additionally, reduced transparency is one of the concerns raised by regulators who hope to create frameworks to protect users in the space.

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