An Old Debate Re-Ignited
Stakeholders in Ethereum have resumed a debate from last year concerning the Parity Technologies hack and its fall-out. Parity was a wallet services start-up in the summer of 2017. In November, a hacker made off with about $32 million worth of ether due to Parity’s vulnerabilities.
The question is whether Ethereum ought to institute a system-wide upgrade known as Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 999 as a way of returning money lost as a consequence of the hack. EIP 999 would reactivate 564 of Parity’s wallets.
Some in the community think money lost should stay lost. Yes, it is unfortunate but it is also critical to the integrity of the whole system that the blockchain not be tampered with. This is sometimes known as the Code-is-Law view. One might also call it the We’re-Not-Central-Bankers view.
The most recent flare-up of the debate began on Saturday, July 19, when the Council of Ethereum Magicians (yes, that’s the body’s name) met to discuss technical updates and code disputes. Afri Schoenden asked to advance EIP 999 within the code review process.
The move set off a social-media firestorm. One tweet runs: “The Parity bailout was just stealth ‘accepted’ by the Ethereum Foundation despite community rejection.” Apparently that is an overstatement of what has happened, although the idea of a reactivation of those wallets is moving … slowly … forward.