Ethereum Quietly Advances Towards Privacy: The Aztec Protocol

Aztec Protocol went live on the Ethereum network on Jan 31 in “limited deployment” mode, without much fanfare and publicity. The press release reported that it was deployed after two audits (by ConsenSys Diligence and Trail of Bits) and the largest multi party computation (MPC) event in history, by number of participants, to establish security guarantee and provide extremely useful information for properly secure functioning, of the network. The protocol uses zero knowledge proof systems to ensure privacy, similar to the Zcash underlying mechanism. The technology is interesting and unique in the sense, that it attempts to bring privacy to an otherwise open blockchain.

The Aztec Protocol allows logical checks to be performed on encrypted values without exactly revealing them, to the blockchain. The inputs and outputs of a transaction are encrypted and hidden, yet the blockchain can still verify the logical correctness of these encrypted statements. On an open blockchain, these inputs and output are publicly broadcasted to the entire network. The team deployed the Aztec Cryptography Engine (ACE) and Privacy SDK to assist developers to integrate private transactions into their DApps. They are also inviting DApps to apply for their 12 months launch program, providing a limited set of Application Programming Interface (APIs) for free private main-net transactions for an year, offering them dedicated support from their engineers and recognition through their advertisement channels.

Aztec CEO Tom Walton-Pocock said: “We’re very excited to be deploying our Web3.0 privacy layer to Ethereum today. As public blockchain networks start to percolate into our everyday lives, privacy providers such as Aztec will enable the general public to transact safely on these networks, without broadcasting sensitive information about their financial activities to the whole world.”

The company’s CTO Zachary Williamson added, “Giving people the tools to perform confidential transactions on open Web3.0 networks is just the first milestone in our longer-term strategy. Our protocol provides ‘data privacy’, which encrypts values being transferred. Our next release will add ‘user privacy’, where identities are obscured. Our final-form protocol will include ‘code privacy’, where transaction logic is also encrypted. In this triptych of privacy, users will be protected from exploitation of their sensitive transaction data.”

What Does Aztec Allow You To Do?

According to the official sources “Aztec is a financial privacy engine running on Ethereum“.  Currently, it offers the five basic services.

  1. Send: Making private transactions across Ethereum
  2. Swap: Allowing two parties to trade private assets (without counterparty risk)
  3. Dividend: Distribute private income to the asset holders
  4. Create: Issue private asset
  5. Burn: Destroy private asset

This can allow for private tokenization of assets on the Ethereum blockchain plus developers can build everything from private payments to complex financial instruments such as bonds or equities.

Aztec’s Future Plans And Ethereum

Currently, Aztec protocol isn’t fully functional. By the end of the year, the company plans to add “anonymity” so users can avoid revealing about the transaction participants and amounts plus other sensitive information. Also, eventually it will be impossible to know which smart-contract, the user is calling. An era of dark contracts, as the time would like to call it. Eventually, a part of the Ethereum blockchain will become dark and hidden from the prying eyes. This will open a plethora of new and exciting possibilities on the blockchain.

Ethereum private
Ethereum private© Cryptoticker
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