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Monero Rolls Out Enhanced Privacy Features With Hard Fork

Privacy coin Monero has deployed a non-contentious hard fork to boost its privacy and security feature set.

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Monero. Image: Shutterstock

Popular privacy coin Monero (XMR) completed a hard fork introducing new privacy and security features over the weekend.

The non-contentious hard fork, completed at block 2,688,888, was first announced by developers in April this year. Initially planned for July, it was subsequently delayed to August 13.

One of the main changes introduced with the fork is an increase in Monero's ring size from 11 to 16. In order to protect user privacy, Monero merges the digital signature of the individual signing a transaction with those of 11 (now 16) other non-signers to create a new signature authorizing the transaction.

The network upgrade also included changes to its 'Bulletproofs' algorithm to boost transaction speeds and reduce transaction sizes by an estimated 5-7%, as well as improvements to its multisig mechanism. Other performance upgrades include 'view tags,' which aim to reduce wallet sync times by up to 40%, along with security patches and fee changes.

News of the successful network upgrade doesn't appear to have moved the needle on Monero's price, which is currently down around 1.6% on the day, with the privacy coin currently changing hands at around $166.

Monero and privacy projects

Monero's boost to its privacy feature set comes in the wake of increased regulatory attention on privacy projects. Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the crypto privacy tool Tornado Cash for money laundering, while the Netherlands Crime Agency arrested an alleged Tornado Cash developer; the moves prompted widespread condemnation among the crypto community.

Monero itself has long drawn attention from regulators and law enforcement; in 2020 crypto intelligence firm CipherTrace revealed that it had developed a toolset for tracing Monero transactions at the behest of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Despite this apparent success, a month later the IRS offered a bounty of up to $625,000 to crack Monero. The following year, the Norwegian police were attempting to crack the privacy coin in order to trace transactions relating to a missing persons case.

As a result of that regulatory attention, crypto exchanges including Coinbase have hesitated to list Monero, with CEO Brian Armstrong stating in 2020 that in "behind-the-scenes conversations," regulators had implied that, "We very much don't think you should do this."

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