Vitalik Buterin, one of the co-founders of the Ethereum network and also known as the public face of the network, has recently come up with the idea which could be used to upgrade the privacy of the network.
His idea, which was presented in a recent HackMD post, was to create a coin mixer. This could be used to obfuscate the address of the user whenever sending a fixed quantity of ETH and would make the transactions more anonymous than they are right now.
However, what he is proposing is not a complete mixer like some of the services we already have for Bitcoin. Instead of making a normal transaction in which the amount of money goes from your wallet to another one and it is publicly listed on the blockchain, the users could actually make the transaction via multiple addresses using this solution.
While it does not completely cloak the transactions, it would make them less obviously related to your wallet. Buterin affirmed, however, that these transactions could still reveal the true links between you and the money, so the system is far from perfectly anonymous.
The system would be used by creating two smart contracts, which would act as the mixer and relayer registry for the system. This way, the users of the network would be able to choose whether to make the transactions more private or not using an anonymity set.
According to Buterin, an anonymity set is a cryptography term for a set of users that could or could not have sent something. You cannot tell exactly who sent it using the system. The larger your anonymity setting is, the harder it is to actually be able to track your transactions.
Buterin affirmed that this kind of change would not require any change to the actual Ethereum protocol, which was a good thing since it could be accessed by having a group of users only using the smart contracts.
Eric Conner, a product researcher who works at Gnosis, a blockchain startup, affirmed that one of the main strengths of the idea that was created by Buterin was how easy it was to integrate it. It was a solid privacy solution for whoever wanted it and it could be easily integrated but the people who would not be interested would not need to interact with it.
It should be noted, though, that the design created by Vitalik Buterin would probably need the user to pay a fee, known as a gas fee, as most apps on Ethereum work. However, for the people who value privacy, the cost could be worth it.
The only problem with this is that coin mixers are not viewed very positively by law enforcement. Recently, BestMixer, a prominent token mixer, was shut down by the Interpol. Buterin’s idea is very interesting but he may face some trouble if the authorities disagree on how legal his idea is.