Batched list of nominations for digital privacy contributions

Hello :wave:

Gavin from Knowable. I’ve reached out to a number of the more well-known Web3 contributors, particularly the well-known digital privacy advocates and researchers, to highlight some of the lesser-known digital privacy contributors. I’ll be publishing these nominations in this thread.

(There were many contributions throughout the trusted setup campaign, so I may be posting duplicates)


Mustafa (Celestia) brought the Privacy International (aka PI) organization to my attention :eyes:

UK-based Privacy International ( has been operating since 1990, focusing on privacy and technology. They have some great resources on why privacy matters. You can learn about the issues that they’re focused on here and check out their campaigns here. They even host a podcast. Here’s an overview showing some of the metrics measuring the impact of their work.

For example, PI provided expert witness testimony that they say led to the Kenya High Court’s decision to suspend a government identity program called NIIMS from being implemented until risks of data breaches, exclusion, and discrimination were addressed with the appropriate regulatory framework.


Personally I’d like to nominate pseudonymous Twitter user, dystopiabreaker:

Not necessarily under the radar, they’ve built legitimacy within crypto twitter and beyond. Mission-aligned with the Namada / Anoma community with the belief that “on-chain privacy is a public good,” calling for censorship resistant & privacy-preserving communication & coordination protocols.

Privacy in modern/future tech product design, global & local public infrastructure & policy, examples of the value of privacy and problems that ensue from privacy failures. Over the last year and a half, they’ve engaged in a diverse set of privacy-related issues and topics with intellectual honesty and integrity, inclusion (like replying to low/no-follower accounts), and a demonstrated a willingness to update their positions on various topics.

A quick search reveals numerous to-the-point, high integrity tweets about relevant digital privacy issues and solutions:

Perhaps some of the most noteworthy tweets are those actively engaging opponents of digital privacy, as well as those implementing inadequate data security solutions, in meaningful, honest, and productive ways.

With their advocacy/activism, commentary on current events, and relatable educational tweets, dystopiabreaker has influenced my thinking about digital privacy, and I suspect countless others as well. I’d love to see dystopiabreaker represented in the Namada genesis (and beyond).


I should have mentioned that dystopiabreaker was also among Sam Hart’s suggestions :raised_hands:

Henry de Valence (Penumbra) would like to nominate Chelsea Komlo for her work on FROST, which has influenced his work a great deal.

FROST is a protocol that improves upon Schnorr threshold signature schemes in a number of ways, including these:

  • FROST generates a signature in a single round with preprocessing (instead of two rounds)
  • FROST is secure against forgery attacks (that other schemes are vulnerable to)

Furthermore, FROST comes with rigorous security proofs that the concrete protocol is secure. FROST is undergoing standardization as an IETF Internet-Draft, so that implementers can implement a well-specified protocol instead of reimplementing a paper.

Neat to see that @cwgoes has proposed that Namada’s custom ZCash bridge should use FROST multisigs:

From Chelsea’s blog:

I am a cryptography and privacy researcher. Currently, I am a member of the Cryptography, Security, and Privacy lab at the University of Waterloo. I am also the Chief Scientist for the Zcash Foundation and a Principal Researcher for Dfns. Before moving into cryptography research, I worked as an engineer on open-source security and privacy related projects.

Chelsea’s current and past research includes:

  • Designing quantum-secure cryptographic primitives.
  • Efficient threshold signatures.
  • Improved privacy properties for multi-party signature schemes.
  • Security of secret sharing schemes.

What’s so important about FROST? Henry explains that we’ve known about threshold signatures for decades, but generally just as math descriptions for combining signature shares, but most of the complexity is using that to make implement a secure protocol. This is what FROST is.

the advance of FROST is that it changes threshold signatures from “something that you can reinvent for your application” to “an off-the-shelf component you can pick up and use”


I have a number of nomination candidates that were suggested by people who would prefer to remain anonymous :dotted_line_face:


Hal Finney

Hal Finney was a cryptographer who created the first reusable proof-of-work system in 2004, prior to the release of Bitcoin. Hal was the main author of PGP 2.0 and the core crypto libraries of later versions of PGP.

Hal’s well-known as an original cypherpunk, with early writings and work on digital privacy, currency, and coordination, eg. Digital Cash & Privacy (1993); PGP Web of Trust Misconceptions (1994).

Hal’s personal site is archived here: Hal Finney Home Page

Since Hal died in 2014, we’re proposing that a posthumous grant be perhaps be awarded to his widow, Fran Finney


Naomi Brockwell

Naomi Brockwell is a tech journalist who hosts a tech channel that “teaches you how to live a modern, privacy-conscious lifestyle.”

In a world of digital surveillance, it can feel powerless to do anything about it. Naomi produces a lot of varied content that surfaces key issues in privacy in ways that are accessible, relatable, and actionable to the general public. I’m new to her channel, and I found these videos interesting and relevant to this campaign:

If it seems like there are elements of product promotion, Naomi has stated that “we are a 501(c)(3) educational platform and none of our product promotion is paid, it’s to educate people about good privacy tools :yellow_heart::shield:

Noami’s content relatably provides the initial context that people need to dive deeper into otherwise-obscure tech topics, like crypto wallets or what you’re actually buying when you buy an NFT.

Personally I’ve taken an interested in her content to get a quick intro to better network security and password management.

Naomi is another candidate who has been anonymously nominated.


Ying Tong

Ying Tong was a researcher for the Ethereum Foundation where she worked privacy-preserving apps with zk-SNARKs and other cryptographic protocols. Ying was essential to the development of Halo2 (which enables zk circuit upgrades without relying on trusted setups: ZK7: Latest developments in Halo2 by Ying Tong Lai - YouTube) and Zcash Orchard, the shielded money protocol.

Ying has been recognized as a substantial contributor to 0xPARC and the Ethereum Foundation’s “Privacy and Scalability Explorations” team.

Ying was recently approved for a grant to be a halo2 community manager. “A halo2 community manager would contribute reviews, organise processes for external review and maintenance, and provide support to external teams exploring new features,” and perhaps Anoma may use this technology.

She’s also working on a coordination project–a technology tree that maps out the intelligent cooperation landscape. She talked about the project at Funding the Commons 2022: A Collaborative Map of the Intellegent Cooperation Landscape with Ying Tong Lai - YouTube and there’s a working demo here. More about tech trees here: Foresight Institute’s Tech Tree Project - Foresight Institute

Ying has been recognized by an anonymous nomination.


Lefteris Karapetsas

Lefteris Karapetsas is known amongst the OG Ethereum community for his involvement in The DAO hack recovery efforts and his work on Raiden. Crypto accounting is notoriously hard, so perhaps his most important contribution is Rotki, an “opensource portfolio tracking, analytics and crypto accounting app that protects your privacy.”

Thankfully, Rotki has been around for a while. Here’s Lefteris talking about Rokti on Into the Ether podcast in Apr 2020. As far as I know, Rotki’s the only open source portfolio tracker for crypto that does accounting and analytics.

There three key things that Rotki enables:

  1. Ownership of your financial data (locally encrypted)–your financial data isn’t being harvested and sold.
  2. All your data is local, so it can’t be lost like with a centralized service.
  3. Transparency & accountability for the crypto financial sector with auditable open source (ie. you can see what Rotki does w your data).

There’s a lot of complexity to support such an app, and I suspect that the business model is challenging to scale. It’s been nearly five years and Rotki has steadily developed according to its mission without compromise, supporting many apps, DEXes, centralized exchanges, mining revenue, and more.

I use Rokti and am grateful for Lefteris’ work. Thanks to Arjun Bhuptani (Connext) for nominating Lefteris :pray: :raised_hands:

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Mikerah Quintyne-Collins

Mikerah left university after receiving a $100k donation (1000 ETH) from Vitalik in Dec 2018, and she went on to lead the development of Lodestar, the Ethereum 2.0 client:

“For me, developing ethereum 2.0 was my way to make a mark on the future of the internet.”
(Coindesk 2018)

Mikerah did validator privacy research work, which she presented as Validator Privacy in Eth2.0 at EthCC in Mar 2020.

Why validator privacy?


If you’re a validator, you want to control what info you leak into the world, like if what network you’re operating from and how much you earn (especially against potential adversaries). More broadly, if we care about fairness, accessibility, censorship-resistance, we want to prevent:

  • hostile governments (or other adversaries) from tracking our validator operators
  • potential blackmailing attacks against our validator set

Ethereum will need some foundational changes to be more data-secure, and there are some open research questions. This topic flew under the radar for many people (myself included), so I’m grateful that Mikerah pushed to have validator privacy in the spotlight.

Mikerah founded Hashcloak, a “blockchain R&D lab focused on vertically-integrated blockchain privacy.” (Hashcloak twitter)

“Our mission is to make it as easy as possible to use privacy enhancing technology (PET) securely and with the best UX possible for the cryptocurrency industry.”



Research blog


When I chatted with Mikerah about this nomination in Dec, she said that she didn’t think she deserved a nomination, as she’s had no impact (impact being a sizable number of users). While it’s ambitious to strive to achieve direct user impact, personally I think that there are stages that happen that culminate toward user impact. FWIW, validator privacy wouldn’t have been on my radar if Mikerah hadn’t been so persistent, and I suspect that there are many others who also have benefited from her research work within and beyond Ethereum.

And Arjun Bhuptani (Connext) must have been impacted, because he has nominated Mikerah for her work :slight_smile:


Sarah Jamie Lewis

Thanks to Mikerah for nominating Sarah Jamie Lewis!

Cwtch is a chat messaging app that aims to be metadata resistant, and I think the work they are doing on that is really good.”

“In general, she’s has written a lot about privacy from the perspective of marginalized groups and provides a fresh take on the topic. She doesn’t just limit herself to distributed systems as well but has talked about privacy and tech outside of that sphere.”

Sarah is Executive Director of @OpenPriv

Personally, I’m surprised and fascinated by the variety of kinds of projects that Open Privacy has developed, from ‘threshold cryptography to prevent compelled disclosure during border crossings’ to ‘Disclosure of Vancouver Patient Medical Data Pager Breach.’ You can read more about Open Privacy’s work here and their latest developments here.

Advocacy, research, development, activism–Sarah Jamie Lewis has been engaged in many ways for many years. I’ve followed Sarah Jamie Lewis on Twitter for years, but didn’t really explore her work and advocacy until Mikerah’s nomination :raised_hands:

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Kieran Mesquita | Dr Hisham Galal | Emmanuel Goldstein

I’m relaying this anonymous nomination:

I’d like to nominate Kieran Mesquita, Dr Hisham Galal, and Emmanuel Goldstein, the minds behind the Railgun protocol. Railgun is groundbreaking tech in that it achieves ZK based privacy entirely within a smart contract. For example, it contains Groth-16 proving using only a smart contract. Because its at the app layer, RAILGUN brings privacy to existing blockchains like Ethereum directly as opposed to a separate chain or rollup.

As far as I’m aware, it’s the only privacy solution that is built to work with existing apps and chains, greatly improving usability of privacy which is important in reaching a wider audience. Railgun also solves the privacy problem where it is most prevalent, on public blockchains that are by their nature identity revealing.

All 3 contributors are privacy and blockchain experts. Kieran is a specialist in the implementation of ZK cryptography in smart contracts and is an extremely experienced smart contract programmer in general. Dr Galal is a well-respected cryptographer, with a specialization in ZK as it relates to blockchain privacy. Emmanuel is also a leading mind in privacy and blockchain having authored the original Railgun whitepaper theorizing that zk-SNARKs could be done completely on-chain within a smart contract.

Naomi Brockwell, (who has received a nomination herself,) has also identified Kieran Mesquita for his great work on Railgun :raised_hands:


Sebastian C. Bürgel

Meher Roy identified Sebastian for his work on Hopr

From HOPR’s site:

HOPR’s a decentralized, incentivized mixnet obscures all metadata, including IP addresses, making it impossible to tell anything about who is communicating and what data they’re sending.

This tweet thread provides a helpful explanation of how Hopr works

I’ve seen Sebastian showing up to address privacy issues in the crypto twitter community in an intellectually honest way. I suspect that there’s potential for HOPR and Namada to collaborate, especially since the interfaces we use to access Namada may leak sensitive data that could lead to deanonymization (like the MetaMask issues).

It’s probably worth noting that HOPR has a token and has had some funding as a project, though interestingly HOPR’s team reportedly received about the same amount in funding from community grants.

Thanks to Meher Roy for suggesting Sebastian :raised_hands:


Ameen Soleimani

I’m nominating Ameen Soleimani for Namada’s public goods funding initiative. I didn’t realize how involved he was in getting Tornado Cash to where it is today, and so much more (mostly because he’s had me blocked on Twitter since Sep 2019 :sweat_smile:)

I did a quick search of “ameensol.eth” before sending him some funds, and noticed that his address was published in this article from 3 years ago: We tracked 133,000 Ethereum names and exposed their secrets - Decrypt

“I know the risks of using public ENS names,” Soleimani said, adding, “That’s why we’re all so excited about privacy technology like Tornado Cash so we can create fresh Ethereum accounts without a direct link to previous accounts, without having to go through an exchange.”

Many of us get excited and then the feeling wanes and we move on, and some of get excited and we get to work. Ameen is known for many things, and perhaps of particular note is his work summoning MolochDAO, an Ethereum public goods funding initiative:

Ameen was instrumental in Moloch’s funding for Tornado Cash, and he told me that he was instrumental in the process of removing the admin keys that controlled Tornado Cash.

From 2019 - 2020, MolochDAO reported that they provided $96k in funding to ship Tornado Cash, upgrade it, create TC’s trusted setup, and perform an audit of the trusted setup.

Moloch, the demon God of coordination failure, lives on–and thus MolochDAO’s mission still continues, thanks to the work of ReallyBoringGuild and MetCartel

Moloch, expect to meet your maker with MolochDAO v3 soon :japanese_ogre:

Back to Tornado Cash. TC has been essential for the Ethereum community, myself included, to protect our privacy in an otherwise vulnerable system. Namada and Anoma stand to benefit from the work that Ameen has done to get Tornado Cash into our world.

Following OFAC sanctions, some of our community turned their backs on Tornado Cash, but Ameen is doubling down

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be nominating Ameen for his boundless dedication to crypto’s mission in a real-world way, in this case his role in Tornado Cash. I’d also be grateful to anyone who may highlight other privacy-related contributions that Ameen has made.


Nick Mathewson

Henry de Valence (Penumbra) and Harry Halpin (Nym) each nominated Nick Matthewson, one of the original Tor authors.

Since early 2003, I have been writing software for the Tor Project. In 2006, we incorporated as a 501(c) nonprofit corporation in Massachusetts; I’m one of the directors. I work on the anonymity protocol, the core network daemon, and on several miscellaneous add-on programs.

Besides the famous Tor paper, Nick co-authored a number of other privacy-related research papers, some examples:

  • Reputation in Privacy Enhancing Technologies (2003)
  • Mixminion: Strong Anonymity for Financial Cryptography (2004)
  • Anonymity Loves Company: Usabiility and the Network Effect (2006)
  • Design of a blocking-resistant anonymity system (2006)
  • Trust-based Anonymous Communication: Adversary Models and Routing Algorithms (2011)

I didn’t link to the papers, but all of the links should be found on Nick’s webpage, as well as references to software that he’s authored.

Nick’s work has influenced many people, and the Tor community has been a cornerstone of Internet privacy. I’m grateful to Henry and Harry for nominating Nick Matthewson :pray: :raised_hands:

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Mike Hamburg

Mike Hamburg is a cryptographer who’s known for making significant contributions to the field of cryptography, particularly in the area of elliptic curve cryptography.

Henry de Valence (Penumbra) identified Mike Hamburg:

“a lot of my cryptography work has been implementations or extensions of mike’s stuff, like ristretto, merlin, etc”

Mike’s Decaf was the basis for Henry’s work on Ristretto and STROBE was the basis for Henry’s Merlin.

Via LinkedIn

Note: I am not currently interested in joining a cryptocurrency or blockchain venture.

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Trevor Perrin

Henry’s Merlin was also based on Trevor Perrin’s “synthetic” nonce generation for “Generalized EdDSA.”

Trevor Perrin was identified by dystopiabreaker.

Trevor won The Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography, together with Moxie Marlinspike in 2017.

“Moxie Marlinspike and Trevor Perrin are awarded the 2017 Levchin Prize for their development of the Signal protocol used to encrypt messages in communication systems. This protocol has been implemented into WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Google Allo, encrypting the conversations of more than a billion people worldwide. The Signal protocol uses triple Diffie-Hellman, and a double ratchet mechanism to provide strong forward-secrecy. It is this massive deployment of an elegant encryption protocol for which Moxie and Trevor are awarded the Levchin prize.”

From Trevor’s site, Modern Crypto, his work spans 2014 - 2022

  • Elliptic curve cryptography: New curves, implementation techniques, and protocols such as PAKE and signatures.
  • Secure end-to-end messaging: New approaches to key management, authentication, usability, and deployment.

I have personally benefited greatly from Signal in a way that would be impossible otherwise. Signal is the closest thing to mainstream adoption that we have for privacy-preserving digital communication. Moxie is pretty famous, and it was cool to have the opportunity to learn a bit about Trevor’s contributions, thanks to dystopiabreaker :raised_hands:

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Ian Goldberg

Henry’s been inspired by Ian Goldberg, a long-time cypherpunk and “really fantastic human being.”

Ian’s a professor at the University of Waterloo, and is known for his work on Off-the-Record Messaging, an encryption protocol that enables private conversations over instant messaging. Neat thing → Vitalik was reportedly a research assistant to Ian while at the University of Waterloo.

According to Wikipedia, “Ian’s a member of the Cryptography, Security and Privacy group as well as the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI). He has been collaborating with the CPI works on the development of a new interdisciplinary research and education program.”

Check out this article written about him:

Thanks to Henry for highlighting Ian :raised_hands:

copy/pasted from Ian’s university page

I am a faculty member in the Cryptography, Security, and Privacy (CrySP) group, and in the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute. I am also an affiliate faculty member in the Systems and Networks group, and an affiliate member of the Institute for Quantum Computing. My main research interests are in the areas of security and privacy, and specifically in creating privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) for the Internet.

I organize the CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy.

Some of my current and planned research:

My publications

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