Inspired by Vitalik Buterin’s idea of ​​non-transferable Soulbound tokens, Ethereum researcher Anton Wahrstätter has proposed a new proposed ERC-721 extension that would implement “stealth” addresses to obfuscate public blockchain transactions involving non-transferable tokens. fungible (NFT).

To implement stealth addresses for ERC-721 tokens—Ethereumthe current token standard for NFTs – Wahrstätter proposes to use a privacy-focused piece of cryptography known as zk-SNARK.

According to the proposal, part of a stealth address, which is essentially a unique address for each transaction, is inserted into a Merkle tree – a data structure used for data verification and synchronization – thus making it possible to send, store and burn NFTs without leaving much of the transaction details seen on the public blockchain.

Although Wahrstätter’s proposal is still at the idea stage, it has already caught the eye of Vitalik Buterin, one of Ethereum’s co-founders, who described it as “a low-tech approach to add a significant amount of privacy to the NFT ecosystem”.

“So you could [for example] send an NFT to vitalik.eth without anyone but me (the new owner) being able to see who the new owner is,” he wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Buterin, however, had some objections to Wahrstätter’s proposal, arguing that the idea of ​​anonymous NFT transactions can probably be achieved “with much lighter technology”.

Commenting on the proposal, he said that “the reason you don’t need Merkle trees or ZK-SNARK level secrecy is that each ERC-721 is unique, so there is no possibility of creating an “anonymity package” for an ERC-721.”

“Instead you just want to hide the link to the highly visible public identity of the sender and receiver (so you can send an ERC-721 to ‘vitalik.eth’ and I can see it, but no one other can’t see this vitalik. eth got an ERC-721; they’ll just see that someone got an ERC-721),” Buterin added.

“A remaining challenge,” according to the Ethereum co-founder, is figuring out how to pay fees.

“The best I can find is that if you send someone an ERC-721, also send enough ETH to pay the fee 5-50 times to send it further. If you get an ERC-721 without enough ETH, then you can inject ETH to maintain the transfer chain,” he wrote.

‘Tornado some ETH’ to protect NFTs

Buterin’s last comment referred to the use of Tornado Cash, a privacy tool designed to hide the origin of Ethereum transactions by mixing user coins.

Tornado Cash was in the spotlight on Monday after the US Treasury Department sanctioned the mixing service by adding it, along with a list of Ethereum addresses, to the list of Specially Designated Nationals. This means that US citizens are now prohibited from using the tool or transacting with these addresses.

While the move drew strong reactions from the crypto community, Ethereum lead developer Preston Van Loon said Decrypt that Tornado Cash, like any other tool, “can be used for bad and good,” he also came amid a broader debate over privacy and transparency in the crypto space.

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