Anonymous attested identities


  • Arnold Almeida
  • Xaun Lopez


Attestations use cryptographic proofs to allow consumers of some information to prove that the information was provided by a specified author. If the consumer trusts that a particular author will always speak the truth, then by verifying that some information came from that author the consumer can assume the information is true.

This technology has found widespread use in decentralized systems which are built on trustless verification; since these systems can only verify information that originated within the system, attestations allow them to trust information from outside the system. One exciting area of application is blockchain-based governance, which relies on trusting people and not just numbers. Attestations can be used to prove the real-world credentials of entities in a governance system, to help other participants evaluate the opinions presented, and to create a risk of losing one’s reputation in order to promote positive behavior (i.e. a game theory mechanism).

Sometimes these participants may wish to leverage their attested reputations in a way which doesn’t jeopardize other aspects of their reputation. For example, imagine a member of a governance body who wishes to publish their opinion on an upcoming decision to try to find consensus before the official vote. They want to prove that they are part of the governing body and qualified to speak on the subject, but they also wish to keep their specific identity secret to protect themselves from becoming a target for lobbying or from being tied to an unpopular opinion that they might change at a later date. They would want to leverage an existing attestation that proves they are part of the governing body, but present it in an anonymous way so it is not clear which member of the governing body posted the message.

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

Optimism is one of the largest and most successful decentralized governance organizations dealing with situations like the above. They have an AttestationStation which uses the Ethereum Attestation Service to provide attestations in their governance decisions, and this is the protocol we would like to improve.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

We would like to add the ability for targets of an attestation to issue new, anonymous attestations which prove the author has one or more of the attributes provided in the original attestation, while keeping the author’s identity anonymous.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

This concept has already been discussed in the Optimism community, however it has not been unsolved yet. Our methodology would start with exploring how Optimism makes use of attestations from EAS, and would continue with engaging community members who have already expressed a desire for this functionality, to better understand the needs and issues at hand.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

Proof of concept software in a public Github repository.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

We will encourage developers from Optimism and other on-chain governance communities to evaluate how well our solution solves their needs, as well as submit it as a proposed solution to governance groups, like Optimism, who have put out official requests for open source developers to work on this problem.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

Optimism PGF reviewers have put out a specific call for this type of solution, so they would be an excellent judge of its quality.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

By publishing our proof of concept and submitting it as a solution to specific problems that have been raised by the community, we will get multiple developers to take a serious look at it and consider implementing it into their own projects.

What is the success vision for your idea?

Success is proving it possible to anonymously attest to being the target of a non-anonymous attestation. We also hope to release open source tools which allow current implementations of EAS to make use of this upgraded functionality, and hopefully these upgrades will find use in multiple decentralized governance communities.


Further reading

I am a bit disheartened that there are no replies to this.

I did have a less verbose, more succinct version if the communication was poor. Regardless would love some thoughts on this subject matter!

1 Like