Here at Blockchainlab in Milan, we are proud to work on the development of Bitcoin technology, as active members of the Italian and global Bitcoin community.
Every day at our lab, we welcome and work with international experts and often collect their opinions and concerns about several topics related to the world of cryptocurrencies.
Giving an answer to the problem of Bitcoin scalability was one of the key factors of this interaction, one of the reasons why we proposed Milan as a candidate to host Scaling Bitcoin in 2016 and sponsored the conference.
We believe that any changes to the rules of the Bitcoin protocol should be taken with the consent of the near-unanimous majority of actors of Bitcoin’s ecosystem. The burden of proof when establishing the status of the ecosystem’s consensus shall be on the parties proposing the hard fork.
For this reason, we must now take a clear position on the fork hypothesis being carried out by Emergent Consensus.
Indispensable prerequisites for a hard fork to be not contentious are:
- Clear activation and on-chain coordination processes.
- Long grace period which reflects a pessimistic and conservative assessment of node upgrade capacity.
- Strong 2-way replay protection which does not place excessive burden on the users.
- Wipe-out protection, meaning that the hard fork must be permanent.
- Must be entirely open-source at all times of the development and implementation process.
- Must be peer-reviewed and tested extensively over a sustained period of time.
We may, after careful analysis over a sustained period of time, individually or collectively determine that a hard fork proposal is not contentious.
Currently Bitcoin Unlimited is not in compliance with any of the points outlined.
When assessing the state of consensus, we will require reasonable proof that there is near-unanimous support and technical readiness by:
- The Bitcoin development community, including protocol and non-protocol developers, signaled by public statements or acquired in our interactions with experts.
- Bitcoin miners, signaled using hashing power.
- Individual Bitcoin full-nodes, signaled by software version.
- Delegated “super nodes”, such as Bitcoin wallets and block explorers as signaled by public statements and software version if nodes are public.
- Economic nodes, such as Bitcoin exchanges, Peer-to-peer trading platforms, brokers, liquidity providers and payment processors, signaled by public statements and software version if nodes are public.
We consider that any “neutral” or “absentee” stance on the hard fork is by default in opposition to the hard fork.
Due to these considerations and unlike the name “Emergent Consensus” would suggest, the fork proposed with the Bitcoin Unlimited client is not consensus-oriented but instead contentious.
Blockchainlab will not consider the current Bitcoin Unlimited proposal to be the original Bitcoin cryptocurrency as described in Satoshi’s whitepaper and as currently used under the denomination “Bitcoin” in our businesses.
Any contentious hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain shall be considered an alternative cryptocurrency (altcoin), regardless of the relative hashing power on the forked chain.
The proposed hard fork and software project pose severe risks to users and our businesses, such as:
- Unpredictable hard-fork activation and disruption of business processes.
- Remote shutting down of nodes leading to unavailability of funds.
- Replay attacks leading to loss of funds.
- Reorganization back to the original chain leading to loss of funds.
- Unpredictable increases in network resources leading to increased operational costs.
- Spontaneous network splits due to varying block-size configurations across the network.
In addition, we believe Emergent Consensus fundamentally alters the nature of Bitcoin by increasing the responsibilities and powers of the Bitcoin miners, disrupting the existing checks and balances system. This will lead to an irreversible centralization process in the hands of Bitcoin miners and pool operators, a process that will compromise core Bitcoin features such as censorship-resistance, privacy and open participation.
Given the “political” behaviour of Emergent Consensus proponents represented by ad hominem attacks, conspiracy theories, misrepresentation of reality, fake data, fake news and fake censorship claims, we consider this proposal as a network consensus disruption attack on the Bitcoin network, an attack that need to be rejected totally and with the utmost force.
In order to protect the Bitcoin brand, with our business is inherently associated, and in accordance with our respective efforts to educate the public and foster a clear understanding of what Bitcoin is, in the case of a hard fork:
- We will refuse to integrate the Bitcoin Unlimited coin (BTU) in our proofs of concept offerings to our customers.
- We will not propose services based on BTU as an alternative currency option alongside BTC to our customers.
- We will not incubate start-ups offering services that use BTU.
We believe that Bitcoin will emerge from this period of contention and controversy stronger than ever.
We remain committed to facilitating the adoption of Bitcoin, providing value and usefulness to our customers and contributing constructively to the Bitcoin ecosystem.
We encourage economic nodes all around the world to make their stance clear and to assert their role as core components of the global Bitcoin consensus.