Multiple high-profile names on crypto-Twitter have added ‘.eth’ to their names to commemorate their place on Ethereum Name Service (ENS). However, users should be aware that one’s ENS name is linked to public transaction history.
In the 1990s, emails revolutionized how we communicated with one another. Instead of being represented by a long string of numbers of letters, emails provided us with a digital identity. Now, anyone could send a message using a simple identifier. A similar concept is trying to be implemented on Ethereum called Ethereum Name Service.
‘.eth’ Trend Spreads on Crypto-Twitter
The concept is simple. You can register a ‘.eth’ name similar to how you would sign up for a Gmail account and receive an ‘@gmail.com’ email. ENS names are saved on the Ethereum blockchain and can be linked to cryptocurrency addresses (ETH, BTC, LTC, and so on), decentralized websites, Tor .onion websites, and personal information. All of the information is stored on Ethereum’s public ledger, connecting your space on ENS to other data in an easily-identifiable web.
To support this effort, many major individuals in the cryptocurrency world have decided to change their names so that it ends with ‘.eth.’ Vitalik Buterin, the co-Founder of Ethereum, recently did so.
As of now, dozens upon dozens of users have changed their names to reflect their support for ENS.
Ethereum's governance is transparently messy, but at least it hasn't been captured by a VC-funded corporation#blockstream
— Evan Van Ness | evan.ethereum.eth (@evan_van_ness) November 19, 2019
— wolfofethereum.eth (@LUKACACIC) November 16, 2019
The Not-So-Hidden Privacy Issues
However, the ENS service comes with some privacy concerns which can’t be ignored. For one, we have to be cognizant of the fact that everything connected to a particular ‘.eth’ the address is stored forever on the blockchain. That means that any emails or personal websites you link to your ‘.eth’ effectively can’t be deleted.
Another issue which is mentioned in ENS’s actual announcement is the fact that one’s transaction history is easily identifiable with an ‘.eth’ account. Because each .eth account is linked to an Ethereum address, this means that users can see your entire transaction history despite knowing just your .eth account.
None of these privacy issues are necessarily flaws with ENS, they’re just simply the conditions that one has to accept before creating an account. ENS is pushing a novel idea which the Ethereum community desperately needs if it is to reach consumer adoption. Easily-identifiable IDs on Ethereum make it easier for everyday folks to relate to it like they use their emails. However, it comes with certain privacy risks—and users need to be completely aware of them to not risk exposing their entire transaction history or emails to unknown parties.
Images are courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter.
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