WCT January 31st Meeting Recap

This week, our meeting’s presentation focused on privacy coins while the discussion covered an article on self-sovereign identity systems, published by Cornell University.

Presentation — Privacy Coins

(Ben Oostendorp and Naman Gupta)

What do we mean by privacy coins?

  • Privacy coins refer to projects such as Monero, Dash PrivateSend, ZCash and others that prioritize privacy for their users’ transactions

Bitcoin Protocol

  • Bitcoin emphasizes privacy on a per-transactional level, but when a user’s transaction history is analyzed as a whole, privacy can be compromised
  • Privacy under the bitcoin protocol solely revolves around private keys
  • Coinbase, your ISP, and others can gain access to your name and other info, while third parties can use cookies to track your activity

Privacy vs. Convenience

  • We are losing privacy as more and more people move away from using cash, as cash is fungible (every dollar is relatively interchangeable and indistinguishable)
  • Some privacy coins have a special key to allow a singular party to look at your account
  • This will allow for audits and will help to fight crime and money laundering, but will also compromise some of the fundamental values of privacy in the crypto world

Dash (PrivateSend)

  • Dash payments are broken down into small denominations by placing transaction requests into a mixing queue, where they are matched up with other users looking to combine their transactions
  • After each wallet (user) tells the masternode the inputs and outputs of the transactions and gives their signature, the mixed transactions are sent to the rest of the DASH network

Monero

What a Ring Signature looks like
  • Focused on privacy, fungibility, and decentralization and founded on the CryptoNote protocol
  • Every time you want to send Monero to someone, the network generates a new address for the recipient linked to their actual address
  • Uses ring signatures, a type of digital signature that can be performed by any member of a group of users who each have keys to ensure transactions cannot be traced.
  • Ring signatures make it computationally infeasible to determine which of the group members’ keys was used to produce the signature

ZCash

  • Uses zero-knowledge proofs, a method in which one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true, without conveying any information apart from the fact that the statement is true. (To learn more about zero-knowledge proofs, check out Briana’s article!)
  • Allows for two types of transactions, transparent (like bitcoin) and shielded (private)

Discussion — Portable Trust

(Kaitlyn Wells and Matt Balsei)

What is Portable Trust?

  • Biometric-based authentication and blockchain storage for self-sovereign identity systems
  • Uses Android’s open source capacity to acquire, process and match fingerprints using only built-in hardware such as the camera
  • A key building block to devising a system that allows people to store their personal and legal information (brith certificate, ID, etc.) on the blockchain

Key Discussion Points

  • Digital identity will make everything easier, from taxes to immigration
  • This could be a solution that could help undocumented people, such as refugees, to achieve identity security
  • What is preventing people from stealing someone’s identification documents and matching them to their own fingerprint?
  • Fingerprints change until you’re 12, so how will this solution work for children?
  • Keep in mind, Blockchain is simply a database. If this solution operates without need for internet connection, where is the data stored and how is it shared? What happens if you lose your phone?

Check back next week to find out more about what WCT is talking about!

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Michigan’s premier student-led organization dedicated to education and discussion around blockchain & distributed ledger technology. Previously Wolverine Crypto Trading.

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