Anton Wahrstätter is an Ethereum researcher who came up with a proposal that would allow “stealth” addresses for performing public transactions on the Ethereum mainnet.
He proposes that an ERC-721 extension – Ethereum’s current standard for NFTs – implements stealth addresses. Wahrstätter proposes to use a cryptographic technique called zk-SNARK.
zk-SNARK Where Succinct, non-interactive knowledge argument is a privacy-focused cryptographic technique that refers to a proof construct where one can prove possession of certain information, for example, a secret key, without revealing that information and without any interaction between the prover and the verifier.
According to the proposal, only part of the address will be revealed – as each transaction has a unique address, it will be inserted into a Merkle Tree. (A Merkle tree is a data structure used for synchronization and verification purposes)
So, once these transactions are done, few transaction details can be seen on the public blockchain network.
The Ethereum co-founder also had some objections and argued that anonymous NFT transactions could also be done using “much lighter technology”.
Buterin also pointed out that “The reason you don’t need Merkle trees or ZK-SNARK level privacy is that every ERC-721 is unique, so there’s no possibility of creating an ‘anonymity set’ 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 else can’t see this vitalik. eth received an ERC-721; they’ll just see that someone received an ERC-721)”, said the Ethereum co-founder.
Buterin also pointed out that it is difficult to determine how to pay the 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, you can tornado of ETH to maintain the transfer chain”, Buterin commented.
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