“Who will Watch the Watchmen?” — Why Privacy Matters to NavCoin and Why We Are Bringing it Back

NAV | 05.28| 29

“Who Will Watch the Watchmen?” — Why Privacy Matters to NavCoin and Why We Are Bringing it Back

NavCoin has never made a secret of the fact that we believe strongly in the privacy rights of individuals. It is with no irony whatsoever then, that we would like to proclaim our latest announcement from the rooftops:

After years of wait, NavCoin is closer to see its privacy-preserving features restored! Work upon the new protocol, BLSCT — designed from scratch by our engineers — has completed another major milestone and will be soon ready for testnet deployment!

From A to B, via X, Y and Z

In the beginning, there was NavTech. This first method of making NAV transactions private showed much early promise but, after much deliberation, was scaled down in favor of the advancement of other solutions.

ZeroCT, based upon Zerocoin, was the next avenue previously explored. This method of obfuscating transaction amounts with the addition of confidential transactions combined with the shielding characteristics of Zerocoin offered a very high level of privacy. Sadly, when it came to testing time for this solution and it was implemented in a testnet environment, a flaw in the original protocol was found.

And so, with renewed vigor, it was back to the drawing board. Led by 0x2830 -the latest addition to the NavCoin development team — completion of the protocol has been a gargantuan task. After many months in the making though, now, BLSCT (Boneh-Lynn-Shacham Confidential Transactions), is almost ready to deploy!

How does it work?

In a sentence, BLSCT uses a combination of BLS signatures (which assist shielding the origin of a transaction), Confidential Transactions (which shield the amount being transacted) and Stealth Addresses (which add complete privacy for the missing part, the receiver).

The use of BLS signatures has many benefits, both for user and network. By blending the transactions occurring inside of a block, tracing the identity of the transaction maker is made almost impossible. A user could send multiple transactions in fact, and any potentially prying eyes would be unable to infer any obvious connections between them. They are aggregated and this aggregation is possible with any number of transactions. Also, because only a single signature is required per block, and not each input, it is great for keeping NavCoin scalable for years to come.

Photo by 𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀 on Unsplash

Using BLSCT has other advantages too! When a user first sends a transaction, they can choose whether to coalesce their coins with others before sending. At this point, their wallet will send an anonymous request using Dandelion++ for coins from other nodes. Once the session is broadcasted, those nodes connect together anonymously through Tor. Then the sender selects several coins at random from the responses received, jumbles them together with the original user’s coins, and only then, are the coins sent to the network. In this way, the user who requires true privacy is enabled with this, and those that provide liquidity to the mixing-process receive a fee for their service, earning a completely passive income and increasing their balance!

How far away are we?

At the time of writing (May 18th, 2020) we are entering the final furlong of this marathon development mission. Support for private transactions is in place and ready to go. It is possible to send and receive both private and public coins. Wallet support for creation and validation of these types of transactions is complete, and the GUI for them (sending, receiving, histories, and balance) is finished.

And now, with the completion of P2P mixing features, integration of BLSCT is within arms reach. As of today, users can download, build, and test the features of BLSCT in a private local network environment. Just head over to Github!

The last major task to complete is the integration of GUI and RPC commands and the addition of test units. Once these remaining items are ticked from the to-do list, BLSCT private transactions will be ready for battle on testnet, and assuming no hiccups en route, mainnet release should follow shortly thereafter.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The reason why privacy matters.

Why is it then, that NavCoin believes privacy features to be such an important achievement? Afterall;

What exactly is in a name?

An internet browsing history?

The details of your finances?

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

There is a common old saying that dictates; ‘only the guilty have anything to hide’. When it comes to our personal information though, nowadays, more and more of us are realizing that this adage simply does not hold. If it did, then perhaps, it would be better if our boss were able to know when we’ve had one too many ‘shandies’ celebrating a friend’s birthday on a work night? Or that your local Government representative knows you enjoy the movies of Matt Damon a little more than you should?

While these may seem like frivolous examples, behind the comfort of closed doors, we all like to feel as if we are in control of who knows what about our business. It should be our choice as to which details of our lives we expose to which individuals.

On a larger scale, there is also a more sinister side to the story. Data breach scandals — such as those linked to Cambridge Analytica — have been shown to have wide-reaching consequences, even potentially affecting the outcomes of major socio-political events.

Photo by Sandro Cenni on Unsplash

With all this in mind, it is obvious why NavCoin has long recognized the importance of these issues. Ever since its inception in 2014, it has been an advocate for privacy in the cryptocurrency sphere. Did you know the original name for NavCoin was NavajoCoin? It was inspired by the Navajo tribe code talkers who, by their unique linguistic characteristics, were acclaimed as a critical factor in the Allied victory of world war two.

Photo by Chloé Stein on Unsplash

Nowadays, while the name of NavCoin may have been trimmed down, the principles remain the same: privacy matters.

The bottom line

It is often said that ‘data is the new oil’. If this is the case, then the highest quality, and therefore most valuable, variety of all ‘digital black-gold’, is that of your finances. Governments and international conglomerates will seemingly stop at nothing to place trackers on you and your spending habits. Some only want to sell you more product, others have darker intents, but by utilizing a unique duel-technique approach, BLSCT, NavCoin offers a complete privacy solution that operates in a decentralized and trustless manner. NavCoin gives back ownership of financial data to its users. Using NAV gives you the choice to decide whether to leave a permanent record of your purchases and payments or not. There are no ‘watchmen’ when using NAV. No centralized servers or trusted set-ups are required. This leaves no room whatsoever for censorship or human-error. The only faith required is in cryptography. And with faith in such short supply nowadays, this can only play to NavCoin’s advantage.

“Who will Watch the Watchmen?” — Why Privacy Matters to NavCoin and Why We Are Bringing it Back was originally published in NavCoin Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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