Renowned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden helped create the anonymity-centric cryptocurrency Zcash (ZEC).
Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence contractor who leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents indicating that the agency was spying on citizens, was one of the six participants who had one of the Zcash multi-signature private keys to launch the project in 2016.
How Edward Snowden Helped Launch Zcash
According to a Forbes exclusive, a leaked video from Zcash Media shows Edward Snowden disclosing that he participated in Zcash’s “trusted setup” ceremony. The Zcash Ceremony involved six people spread across different locations in the world. During this process, each of the six participants was given a piece of the private key required to create the cryptocurrency.
Snowden used the pseudonym “John Dobbertin” to conceal his role in the project. None of the participants knew the identity of the others and what sliver of the key they held in a bid to launch Zcash in a very secure, privacy-preserving manner.
The culmination of the ceremony entailed destroying the private creation keys held by the six different parties. This was to ensure that none of them would later be able to counterfeit Zcash coins or transactions and ruin the system.
Snowden, who has been living in Russia since 2013 when he was charged with espionage in the U.S., explained that he didn’t necessarily design the Zcash algorithm, and he thought it was a “very interesting” project after seeing it being worked on by professional academic cryptographers.
Snowden Clarifies He Didn’t Receive Any Payment For His Contribution
During the interview with Zcash Media, Snowden shared his passion for the Zcash project and his conviction that privacy in transactions is paramount.
“Bitcoin quite famously is an open ledger. The problem with that is you can’t have truly free trade unless you have private trade. And you can’t have a free society without free trade.”
Zcash offers both transparent and shielded transactions using zero-knowledge proofs, a cryptographic invention that verifies transactions without having to see the details.
Besides Snowden, Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd, security engineer Derek Hinch, Za and Zooko Wilcox, and Coin Center’s Peter van Valkenburg were also involved in creating the Zcash blockchain.
Despite his involvement with Zcash, Snowden apparently was not interested in any sort of compensation. “As long as it is clear that I was never paid and had no stake, it was just a public interest thing, I think you can tell people,” he told Zooko Wilcox.
News of Snowden’s participation in the creation of the privacy-focused coin has not done much to light the fire under the Zcash bulls. ZEC has risen 2.01% on the day to trade at the $150.22 level at press time. It’s also sitting on the fifty-first spot in the cryptocurrency rankings, with a market capitalization of around $2.1 billion.