Mathematician Andrew Poelstra is working on a system whereby Bitcoin users will be able to enjoy increased privacy.
Poelstra feels that companies have now become completely intrusive, delving into to the lives of users who wish for a certain degree of anonymity as they use the blockchain; data is shared and sold on with no benefit whatsoever to the owner. Cases in point being Facebook and Instagram, to name just two of the numerous companies in cyberspace sharing unowned data.
Polestra has been looking at the trails that such data leaves as it winds its way through cyberspace, as he feels this is the key to his passionate research:
“Those trails that no one thinks about, I wish that they weren’t there… I would hope I’m not leaving one and I would hope that no one that I love is leaving one. That’s who I’m working for.”
Speaking during a panel at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference, he suggested that it was others that he was concerned about, friends and family, and why he had taken up the challenge of coming up with a solution he calls “scriptless scripts”.
He suggested that crypto project ‘MimbleWimble’, with its heightened scalability and privacy advantages, could be superseded with something far more effective, offering enhanced privacy to users. Scriptless scripts could improve the privacy of Bitcoin Lightning Network payments, no longer needing “to publish to the world all the details of your payment channels”.
Polestra says that a new technology pioneered by Bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille with support from himself and requiring Schnorr signatures is very close to being released. However, to make the technology totally functional in helping to reduce cyber trails and enhance privacy it will need to be linked to other technology.
Such technology, he suggested, might include Greg Maxwell’s Taproot which would add privacy to the extent that people so people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between on-chain and Lightning’s off-chain transactions, making all Bitcoin transactions look the same.
Another privacy issue that Polestra has been working on, such as confidentiality, has led him to a way of shielding user balances called “bulletproofs”. These decrease the size of confidential transaction tech, further enhancing the ability to hide user balances.
There are still improvements clearly needed to enhance and ultimately solve Bitcoin privacy issues, such as shielding sender and receiver information, which is still traceable, and that at present has no solution.
Developers continue to look at these issues in order to make the blockchain a “trail-less” environment, but this keen young mathematician has already made significant inroads.
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