Snowden reveals having aided Zcash launch

The rogue NSA employee confirmed he was one of the six participants of the Zcash’s trusted setup process, hiding under the alias John Dobbertin.

A stock photo featuring a red Zcash button on a keyboard.

Zcash is a privacy-preserving cryptocurrency that enables encrypted end-to-end transactions. To set up the network in 2016, developers had to lock the code that runs the cryptocurrency using the cryptographic key. However, there was no guarantee that the person entrusted with the key would destroy it after the process was complete since access to the key makes it possible to counterfeit money. To solve the trust problem, the team divided the setup code into six parts, each encrypted with the original key. As long as just one person destroyed their key, the project was safe.

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In his interview with Zcash Media, Edward Snowden confessed that he found the idea of private cryptocurrency appealing. “The problem with that [an open ledger] is you can’t have truly free trade unless you have private trade, and you can’t have a free society without free trade,” he said.

“But when it came to this concept that they need many people in many places, all cooperating in hopes that just one of them might not be compromised, might not work sort of against private interest, that was necessary for the Ceremony to succeed, I was happy to say, ‘Sure, I’ll help.’”