Whistleblower Edward Snowden Admits Participation In Ceremony Leading To Creation Of Privacy-Focused Zcash Cryptocurrency


American whistleblower and former computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden, now a Russian permanent resident, revealed he played a leading role in a 2016 ceremony that ushered in Zcash, a privacy-focused crypto. 

On April 27th, the Zcash Media Twitter account promoted a video featuring an interview with Snowden, who participated in the mysterious ceremony under the name of ‘John Dobbertin.’

The privacy advocate and five other people combined their portion of the cryptocurrency’s private key to officially launch Zcash, a decentralized blockchain relying on zero-knowledge proofs.

With a market capitalization just north of $2 billion, Zcash has gained prominence since its inception as transactions with the coin are untraceable and hide the amounts transmitted. 

The Vital Role Six People Played In Ushering In Zcash

According to CoinDesk, setting up the coin’s privacy parameters meant a cryptographic key needed to be generated. However, anyone who had their hands on the entire key could print as many Zcash coins as they wished and counterfeit the supply. 

The ceremony was part of the solution. Each of the six participants contributed a portion of the secret key to kick off the printing process. “If at least one person succeeds in throwing away their part of the data, the computation is secure,” Peter Todd, one of the participants alongside Snowden, explained.  

Right after the creation of Zcash’s genesis block, five out of the six ceremony participants revealed themselves. Aside from Todd, CoinCenter researcher Peter Van Valkenburg, security engineer Derek Hinch, and Zcash co-creators Zooko and Nathan Wilcox were involved, CoinDesk reported. 

A lengthy Forbes report detailed how Snowden initially got connected with Zooko Wilcox and became involved with Zcash. 

Wilcox reached out to a veteran of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to connect with Snowden after the whistleblower spoke virtually at an event at Bard College and mentioned privacy technology. 

Wilcox and Snowden met over a video call where the Zcash co-creator assigned Snowden the ‘John Dobbertin’ pseudonym after agreeing to work together. Two years after the 2016 ceremony, Snowden again participated in a much more detailed 88-member ceremony where he used a different USB stick for each step. 

Will Tougher Standards Against Privacy Coins Doom Zcash In The Long Term?

The recent news about Snowden’s involvement with Zcash did not do much to affect the crypto’s price, at least in the short term. 

However, some speculate that the news about his involvement with the project is not an accident. The revelation comes amid a planned Zcash software upgrade. 

The enhancement, known as Halo, actually removes the need for elaborate ceremonies like Snowden’s been involved in. 

Zcash itself has had an interesting year, surging up past $200 in late March after a sustained run-up during the month. While many users still flock to the coin due to its privacy-focused nature, others speculate the future might be grim as entities seemingly crackdown on “privacy coins.” 

The European Union passed draft legislation regarding “tougher traceability rules” for crypto transactions in early April.