Is the Ethereum Community Indifferent towards Tornado Cash’s Innovation?

By August 9, 2019Ethereum
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A cryptocurrency enthusiast on Twitter noted yesterday that the Ethereum community does not seem to be giving enough attention to Tornado Cash’s mixer tool. It allows users to transact with Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, ETH, completely anonymously.

The tool was announced yesterday and the development is an arguably major one, allowing users to have complete privacy when conducting their transactions, something which was no possible on blockchains before.

Privacy Coins Obsolete?

One of the key features of blockchain technology is the complete public nature of the transactions occurring on the platform. The entire transaction history and cryptocurrency balance of an Ethereum user is public information. There are block explorer applications such as Etherscan, which allow people to see transactions without having to observe the actual blockchain. This information allows people to analyse your crypto activity, trace the source of your funds, and calculate your holdings. While decentralisation is one of the most appealing features of blockchain technology, the lack of privacy is one of its downsides. Privacy coins such as Zcash are an attempt to overcome this.

However, @DegenSpartan noted that if the tool works without any issues, it will render most privacy coins completely worthless since it provides cursory privacy, which is good enough for most crypto users. Others disagreed with this assessment, arguing that mixers can never achieve the same level of anonymity as privacy coins, but the Twitter user reiterated that most users are happy with remaining “pseudo anonymous”, and Tornado Cash’s tool is enough for them.

Community Hype

The announcement did garner significant attention, however, and was even lauded by the founder and Chief Scientist of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin.

I'd say keep pushing on, do the work to make sure it's secure and convince people of its security, get it integrated into wallets, etc. We do need mixers done well and not just left behind as barely usable experiments!

— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) August 7, 2019

His sentiments seemed to be echoed by the community who felt that the tool needs a few more audits and improvements, such as wallet integrations. A major component of the tool is having a large user base, as a larger pool will lead to a greater guarantee of anonymity. Competitors to the project or updates to the same project could see someone bringing an economic incentive to populate the pool and allow greater anonymity, as pointed out by the Twitter user.

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