An Ethereum Improvement Proposal that would allow the recovery of lost funds has received strong reactions from community.
The proposal, EIP 867, would allow the Ethereum blockchain to be modified when users funds are lost. It’s a contentious issue in the Ethereum community, shadowed by the DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) hack, where $250m of user funds were stolen in 2016. At the time the decision was made to hardfork the blockchain and restore lost funds, which represented 15% of all Ethereum on the network. The hardfork split the Ethereum community divisively, with those ideologically committed to the immutability of blockchain branching off to form Ethereum Classic.
At the time many worried that the hardfork would set a dangerous precedent, destroying the central premise of the blockchain – decentralization. Many believed that no central authority should be able to exercise control by modifying the blockchain, even to restore users balances. The debate has resurfaced with the recent Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP 867) initiated by Github user Jamslevy. It proposes a standardized procedure for Ethereum Recovery Proposals, which would allow the blockchain to be routinely modified to recover lost funds.
The EIP has demonstrated that the community is one again split on the issue. Those affected by hacks and bugs, such as victims of last December’s Parity catastrophe (where a fault within the well-known wallet led to the loss of $150m worth of Ethereum), support the proposal. However, many in the community are opposed to providing an authority with the power to make judgment calls over the blockchain. The proposal has received 304 comments, of which the majority appear to be in strong opposition.
Founder of the Ethereum network Vitalik Buterin took to Twitter in support of the community’s backlash against the proposal. It’s a statement that firmly positions the developer against the proposed update.
To those who thought that the DAO fork set an unbounded slippery slope and lasting precedent, I encourage you to see the reactions on this thread: https://t.co/EvoNKH2nsR
— Vitalik "Not giving away ETH" Buterin (@VitalikButerin) February 16, 2018
With this response from the community it is highly unlikely that the proposal will be implemented. Whilst it is possible that EIP 867 supporters could hardfork from the Ethereum blockchain in an attempt to recover lost funds, they would exist on a separate chain – unrecognized by the main network of users and exchanges. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but users who have suffered lost funds at the hands of hackers and programming bugs will likely never see their Ethereum again.