Privacy is a universal right, therefore our transactions and monetary habits should be safeguarded by the financial infrastructure we use on a daily basis. Currently, this is not the case—even with existing digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Payments in Bitcoin are published in an open ledger, the ‘blockchain’. Every Bitcoin transaction includes information such as the sending and receiving addresses, amount being sent, sender’s IP address, block hash, etc. This information makes it easy to see the total holdings and transactions of one another, destroying the confidentiality and security Bitcoin is supposed to provide.
Shadow, which has been in development for over six months, has built upon Bitcoin’s principles of trustless decentralization and double-spend prevention to create the first truly anonymous, decentralized digital currency. Shadow’s ecash system called ShadowCash uses dual-key stealth addresses, traceable ring signatures, and non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs to provide untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The Shadow team likes to compare Bitcoin to traceable payment methods such as checks and credit cards, in contrast to Shadow, which is more akin to untraceable cash.
In addition to anonymous payments, Shadow also offers a decentralized, encrypted messaging protocol—ShadowChat. No central servers means messages in ShadowChat stay private, and are immune to censorship. Other forms of communication such as email, Skype and SMS are notoriously lacking in privacy.
The next component of the Shadow economy, ShadowMarket, is an anonymous, decentralized marketplace. Combined with ShadowChat’s encrypted messaging, ShadowMarket will enable anyone to trade goods and services with anyone else anonymously, and without any external interference.
Recently, the Shadow team set up a Thunderclap campaign to boost awareness of their project. Users were encouraged to pledge their support to the project by sharing campaign’s #FightForPrivacy message on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The campaign exceeded its target and reached over one million people worldwide.
There are several resources to educate the public on the benefits of the Shadow platform. There’s a community website at aboutshadow.com, a wiki at shadowcash.info, a forum at shadowtalk.org, a subreddit at reddit.com/r/ShadowCash, a very active Slack group at shadowproject.herokuapp.com, and an IRC #shadowcash channel at freenode.net.
The Shadow project’s mission is very clear: Establish an anonymous economy with multiple features that give people all the financial freedom and privacy they should have. This will be accomplished by building an anonymous chat, commerce, and currency platform that defends our privacy through cryptography. Shadow’s anonymous cryptocurrency and messenger functions are operational and can already be downloaded on Android, iOS, Windows, OSX and Linux systems. ShadowMarket is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2015.
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