Paper 2023/273

Derecho: Privacy Pools with Proof-Carrying Disclosures

Josh Beal, Yale University
Ben Fisch, Yale University

A privacy pool enables clients to deposit units of a cryptocurrency into a shared pool where ownership of deposited currency is tracked via a system of cryptographically hidden records. Clients may later withdraw from the pool without linkage to previous deposits. Some privacy pools also support hidden transfer of currency ownership within the pool. In August 2022, the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Tornado Cash, the largest Ethereum privacy pool, on the premise that it enables illicit actors to hide the origin of funds, citing its usage by the DPRK-sponsored Lazarus Group to launder over \$455 million dollars worth of stolen cryptocurrency. This ruling effectively made it illegal for U.S. persons/institutions to use or accept funds that went through Tornado Cash, sparking a global debate among privacy rights activists and lawmakers. Against this backdrop, we present Derecho, a system that institutions could use to request cryptographic attestations of fund origins rather than naively rejecting all funds coming from privacy pools. Derecho is a novel application of proof-carrying data, which allows users to propagate allowlist membership proofs through a privacy pool's transaction graph. Derecho is backwards-compatible with existing Ethereum privacy pool designs, adds no overhead in gas costs, and costs users only a few seconds to produce attestations.

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Publication info
proof-carrying datasmart contractscryptocurrenciesprivacy poolszero-knowledge proofs
Contact author(s)
josh beal @ yale edu
ben fisch @ yale edu
2023-06-30: last of 2 revisions
2023-02-23: received
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      author = {Josh Beal and Ben Fisch},
      title = {Derecho: Privacy Pools with Proof-Carrying Disclosures},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/273},
      year = {2023},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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