Snowden is among the top six members involved in the establishment of Zcash.
Unknown to many, ex-US defense contractor, Edward Snowden, was crucially involved in developing Zcash, a cryptocurrency that helps users maintain their anonymity. You’d recall that Snowden’s leaks led to the exposure of several secrets about internet surveillance.
However, a video released by Zcash media on Thursday revealed that Snowden was among the top six members (known as the trusted setup) involved in the establishment of Zcash. Zcash media is a subsidiary of the privacy coin that creates educative pieces of training about the Zcash cryptocurrency.
In the video, Snowden said he was interested in the project after seeing some academic cryptographers working on it. However, in a recent interview with the privacy coin’s co-founder (Zooko Wilcox), Snowden revealed that he wouldn’t mind making his participation known to the public.
Snowden, who used the fictitious name John Dobbertin while working on the project, said, “I think you can tell people so long you make it clear that I didn’t receive any payment for my role or be rewarded in any other and that it was only for the interest of the public.”
Even though Snowden has been living as an asylum seeker in Russia for the past nine years following an espionage charge against him by the US government, he is one of the scheduled speakers at the consensus 2022. One other notable speaker at the event is grayscale CEO, Michael Sonnenschein.
How Snowden became involved
Anyone willing to know the importance of Snowden’s role in creating Zcash would need a deeper understanding of how Zcash’s privacy feature works. First, any Zcash holder can perform a ‘transparent’ or ‘shielded’ transaction. The former works similarly to how normal crypto transactions work, while the latter involves using what’s known as ‘privacy pools.’
These privacy pools can be likened to black holes, but for crypto, where records of the source of coins can’t be traced, not even through blockchain technology. However, a user would need to generate a cryptographic key to set up the necessary privacy parameters.
According to Nathan Wilcox (another one of Zcash’s creators and brother to Zooko Wilcox), “the process of generating this key is known as the trusted setup, and through it, supply counterfeits of the crypto can be generated. However, the creator won’t be violating any previous or present privacy.” The possibility of creating counterfeit Zcash cryptos is a huge issue, even if the trusted setup isn’t a violation of privacy.
Hence, the solution to this issue led the Zcash team to assemble a group of researchers who would design the ceremony (aka, the multi-party computation). Besides Snowden, other members of this research group were Peter Todd (a bitcoin developer), Zooko and Nathan Wilcox, Derek Hinch (a security engineer), and Peter Van Valkenburg (a researcher with the Coin center).
During his interview with Zcash media, Snowden recalled the events, saying, “I was happy to offer my help because the concept requires many people to be in several places and be cooperative. More importantly, the concept also requires that those involved are not compromised or work against the group’s interests. Otherwise, the ceremony won’t have been successful.”
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