Painting the sky: ECC update for April 26th

Hi Zeeps,

I’m troubled. And also resolute.

We’ve seen the dark storm coming. It’s been creeping in like a fog, and it’s now over our heads. These are dark and cloudy days.


This week, the US government arrested Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill of the Samourai wallet project for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business. The next day, the FBI then put out this notice.

Powers are fighting self-sovereignty, privacy, and the freedom to transact with one another.

They are fighting human dignity and consent.

This felt like a punch in the gut. I hit the gym hard after hearing the news and reading summaries of the case. Headphones on. Angry tracks blasting in my ears.

"'Cause I’ll rip the mic, rip the stage, rip the system

I was born to rage against 'em

What? The “land of the free”?

Whoever told you that is your enemy"

People all around the industry voiced dismay.

It should be abundantly clear that governments around the world do not want what we have to offer. They want to shut us down by any means possible.

I understand that the founders of Samourai said some reckless things. They may have also acted recklessly. I don’t know. We have reached out to legal experts to help us dig into the details to better understand the charges and the stated reasons behind them.

What I do know is that if you are here to fight for human dignity and freedom, this will be the fight of your life. And those fighting against these things aren’t fucking around. They will oppress us, intimidate us, and use all the tools at their disposal, including regulatory overreach, to shut us down.

More than any other crypto community I know, the Zcash community stands for good. We stand for the people who do not have access to traditional financial services. We stand for people who simply want to live life without being spied and preyed upon. We stand for people who are in danger of losing their financial security and even their lives to those who wish evil upon them.

We do not seek to enable evil doers to do evil things.
Quite the opposite. We seek human flourishing.

Why then would they seek to crush us?

I believe that many of these people are well-intentioned. They are conditioned toward the belief that they are doing good. But they are mistaken. Oppression through force is not righteous; it is misguided at best and evil at worst.

A friend once told me, “Power is never ceded; it has to be taken.” I don’t believe that’s always true, but it is true here. They are grabbing power, and we must not cede it.

How do we take power back?

There are those in legal and policy circles that will fight for us head-on. I’m thankful for and root for them! But for many of us, we are simply too weak for that kind of confrontation. We don’t have the resources or sit in the right seats of power. When these people punch, they punch hard. If you want to go head-to-head, you best be ready for a tumble. And they will not change. They will not whither away.

So, do we sit and watch the clouds come upon us with helpless indignation?


The best thing for us to do is to repaint the sky.


I stood up and wandered a little farther—off the bridge, and along the road. I had not gone far before I passed a house, out of which came a young woman leading a little boy. They came after me, the boy gazing at the red and gold and green of the sunset sky. As they passed me, the child said—

“Auntie, I think I should like to be a painter.”

“Why?” returned his companion.

“Because, then,” answered the child, “I could help God to paint the sky.”

George Macdonald, Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood

Our motives are righteous and pure.
These are our colors - the colors painted by God in the sunset sky.
We must repaint these dark skies with our hues; the hues of freedom, to replace the hues of oppression.

So with brushes in hand, we paint. We know how. We build. That’s what we know how to do best.

We discover math. We innovate.
We paint.

We build open-source software for everyone to use, without intimidation or fear.
We paint.

We build software for the betterment of all mankind today, and for generations to come.
We paint.

We tell stories about how our work is improving the lives of people around the world.
We paint.

We onboard people in our community and spread the good word.
We paint.

If we do it together, this is not fanciful or naive.
It’s pure. These are our brushes. This is our contribution.

This is how we repaint the sky.

Here are some of our contributions from ECC this week:


We planned to release 1.0 of the Android app this week. The code was ready, but the lightwalled infrastructure options were not, so we pressed pause. Apparently, there was a DDOS attack, and other issues were discovered. We spent time troubleshooting and reaching out to different providers. We also learned that Nighthawk intends to shut down its servers in 5 weeks. We adjusted both versions of the app to include servers in which we have higher confidence. We also contacted other third parties about adding additional infrastructure to increase resiliency.

But Android 1.0 IS coming soon. Don’t blink!

We also designed a few new things in the UX that you’ll experience soon on both app versions, and we started exploring various 3rd party APIs. There was some behind-the-scenes work to deal with dust spending issues.

People are continuing to download Zashi and love it. Approximately 30 days after launch, 1.2k people have downloaded the iOS wallet and it currently has a 4.9 rating in the app store. Thank you!!!

We have over 400 people signed up for the prelaunch of Android, with 1.15k users signed up or on the beta. It currently has a store listing conversion rate of over 40%, which is fantastic.


The team put together a zcashd deprecation plan and began working through it in collaboration with the Zcash Foundation. The teams met Thursday to run through it. As with all our Zcash engineering efforts, Daira is leading this for ECC.

We completed the rollout of 5.9.0 and communicated the rollout to exchanges and miners to ensure they weren’t affected by the 5.8.0 EOS.

We also worked to support the ecosystem, including providing Namada feedback on their airdrop protocol and Brave on key management in their wallet implementation.

Other things

When the Samourai issue hit, we began investigating the specifics of the case and consulting with our legal team. We are very careful to comply with US laws, and it’s important that projects like Zcash that are built for good-intending people are not caught in regulatory crosshairs.

We worked through long-term planning and staffing options based on needs based on various dev fund scenarios, including the possibility that the development fund will not be renewed.

Work is also being done in preparation for the upcoming ZconV.

Want to help us paint? Register for the next Z|ECC summit in July!

That’s all for this week.

Got your brushes and paints? I got mine.



I’m going to read the indictment now. Let’s not be hasty.

BTW RATM are commies so presumably they would agree with shutting down all crypto in favor of centralized control. Eat the rich and whatnot.


:joy: I wasn’t thinking of them as allies, necessarily. They were just fueling my rage in the gym.


Josh is built like a shield :muscle:

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RATM is the complete opposite of what they sold you. Sorry to break the news that they are lame LARPs.

Try some Unearth or Austrian Death Machine if you really want to get swole.

Edit: didn’t see @skyl’s based reply.

Will check them out

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Okay - not legal advice, I’m just some dude. I’ve only read the indictment and am not an expert on Samourai or much anything else

Count 1: they were fielding requests with a centralized service that would mix transactions for a fee. They made $4 million in large part taking requests to their centralized service and calculating “mixing” for the express purpose of obfuscating the origin of the transactions for a fee. They then broadcast these mixing transactions that they proposed.

Verdict on count 1: this is not what Zcash is and no one in the community is doing anything like that. They could be guilty of this. No one in the Zcash community is guilty of this. Actually, because of the design of Zcash, it would be nonsensical to run such a profitable “mixing” service for criminals. Privacy is normal.

If this puts a damper on anything it might be swapping. I know that everyone wants to drink “defi” and cross-chain, dex koolaid. But, think of this - if people could put their dirty, non-fungible, ill-gotten, tainted Bitcoin into Zcash, just for the purpose of concealment, maybe that’s bad. Maybe clean Zcash should distance itself from dirty Bitcoin.

It doesn’t matter, though. Agenda 2030 is not a conspiracy. It’s all part of the plan :tm:

They want control and privacy coins will definitely be in the crosshairs.

The biggest concern I see is that once these politicians die off, the zoomer generation and below have zero qualms about privacy so who is left to defend it? GenX and Millenials?

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This is the wrong way to look at it. If there’s a will; there’s a way.

Good people live in the same community as bad people.

It shouldn’t be up to the protocol to determine who is allowed to use it or not. It must remain neutral.

Presumably at least some of them wouldn’t, since Tom Morello has an NFT collection? (No comment.)

The important axis is liberty vs. authority, not individual vs collective.

I’m on the side of liberty. And that’s also how I interpret those lyrics.


Josh is there a way to contribute pro bono assistance to your legal team? Who to contact for that?


i’d like to see Zcash be integrated into Arti Project as much as possible
I hope it will be the case
Because difficult and different times ahead of us

Count 2: This one is pretty interesting because intuitively a service can’t transmit what they dont have access to. But, apparently other mixers have been prosecuted on similar grounds.

This is an area I’ve been really interested in for a long time because of free2z and other software I’ve considered building. With free2z, we want to make the in-app token super awesome and powerful but we want to stay far away from crossing the line into being a money transmitter or MSB. I could have written software that would cross the line. For example, if we allowed anyone to deposit crypto, send the value to someone else, and allowed the recipient to withdraw the value, it would be unlicensed money transmission with the potential to be used for criminal purposes.

I’m comfortable with free2z’s revenue share model for several reasons: membership in the revenue share is selective and only available to people and projects who we know very well and are sanctions screened. The primary purpose is to reward creators for their content and contribution to the community. I personally scrutinize every payout to ensure that it is legitimate and commiserate with the creator’s contribution and not part of some illicit scheme. As free2z grows, we will have to remain vigilant and be aware of the evolving legal landscape but I’m happy with what we have so far established.

For Zcash and other projects, the second count is a bit worrying just because it seems to be part of a trend or slippery slope. Are we going some place where privacy coins are going to be targeted? Will the government try to force services to take down cryptocurrency addresses? I’d like to see a more precise definition of MSB and money transmission so people can stay on the right side of the law confidently. With vague, ambiguous definitions, there is a danger of “show me the platform and I’ll show you the crime.”

Again, Zcash should remain pure and clean. I think this case does inform us of where we dont want to go and what we dont want to do: we dont want our technology/chain to be used to “clean” other chains. Zcash should not be an L2 that lets people obfuscate dirty ethereum, bitcoin, cosmos, or whatever. Maybe this case will put some of those ideas to rest. We shouldn’t let our desire to be popular dirty our chain. We could probably make something popular: “OFAC cramping your style? Pass your illicit coins through the orchard pool and get clean coins back!” Bitcoin and ethereum can never be clean and we should not try to help them achieve fungibility. This case should be bullish for L1 privacy. We just have to be patient and build our own community. We’re the good guys. We’re not helping anyone obfuscate their illicit proceeds. Zcash was built from the ground up to protect human rights. We shouldn’t allow our desire to be popular with the cool kids spoil our offering. We should be more appreciative of where we are and what has been achieved. Bring the focus back to ZEC as fungible, private, p2p digital cash and dont be so concerned with interoperability with inferior chains, web3 hype, nft BS, DeFi vaporware. Zcash is in a good spot right now. We should be careful in what we build - the wrong integration could be a curse in diguise. Patience. Let’s paint our own picture and not try to help someone else clean theirs.


Well, yeah. Communism and hypocrisy go hand in hand. No surprise there. :joy:

This subthread is off-topic. I replied earlier only because a position on cryptocurrency was attributed to the members of Rage Against the Machine that at least one of them demonstrably does not hold.

Further notes and action items

  • consensus reformation should be a higher priority in the grand scheme. The block reward should go to as many small contributors as possible and not just to miners and organizations who liquidate to pay fiat expenses. Changing the PoW to be more inclusive, adding PoS, whatever it is, we should iterate on the consensus to get more people using ZEC. RandomX, ethash, equihash with different parameters, proof of stake. Holding and using ZEC should be incentivized over everyone just liquidating the block reward.
  • F Bitcoin and the rest. The devfund recipients coveting dirty, non-fungible bitcoin while selling ZEC is not good.
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Yes, I agree that @joshs quoting RATM was a mistake and not pertinent to the discussion.

The beauty of art is understanding different meanings…
Josh did it the right way :slight_smile:

Not the time for defiant bravado IMO. I’d rather appeal to sober legal minds than RATM fans in this case. It’s a bit of a Rosa Parks versus Fred Hampton, if you’ll permit the analogy. There may come a time when we should lay out and be heroically defiant. IMO, the prosecution of the Samourai case is not it.