Vitalik Buterin Outlines Stealth Address Possibilities on Ethereum


Key Takeaways

  • Vitalik Buterin outlined in a recent blog post how Ethereum stealth addresses could help network users further protect their privacy.
  • “Stealth addresses give the same privacy properties as… generating a fresh address for each transaction, but without requiring any interaction,” he stated.
  • Stealth addresses could finally unlock privacy for transactions involving POAPs, NFTs, or ENS domains.

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Ever concerned with providing privacy-protecting tools to Ethereum users, Vitalik Buterin has come up with a new mechanism which may prove easy to use: stealth addresses.

Fresh Addresses at Every Turn

Vitalik Buterin is looking into how to increase privacy on Ethereum.

The Ethereum creator outlined in a new blog post a tool that could enable users of the network to better protect their privacy: stealth addresses. These would essentially consist of wallet addresses that are cryptographically tied to one’s public address, but can only be discovered by the parties involved in the transaction. As Buterin put it: “stealth addresses give the same privacy properties as… generating a fresh address for each transaction, but without requiring any interaction.”

Buterin stated that the scheme would allow for a greater number of digital assets to be transferred from one user to another in a privacy-focused manner. Ethereum-based privacy protocol Tornado Cash, he noted, only allows for the transaction of major cryptocurrencies. Stealth addresses would offer the opportunity to privately send any ERC-20 token, no matter how small the project, as well as POAPs, NFTs, ENS names, and other digital assets. 

He stated that the technology was simple and could be implemented relatively easily, if not for a couple of details. One of the main hurdles would be gas fees. A newly-generated stealth address would contain zero ETH, meaning that it would be incapable of forwarding any cryptocurrencies or NFTs sent to it. Sending ETH to the stealth address from another address would defeat the purpose of using a stealth address in the first place.

A solution to the problem could be to use ZK-SNARKs (cryptographic proofs), which unfortunately cost a lot of extra gas. Another would involve specialized transaction aggregators, which could provide network users the option of paying for multiple transactions in one go—and then “spend” these pre-paid transactions whenever they want.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and several other crypto assets.

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