On November 6, users of Ethereum wallet Parity lost more than 500,000 Ethers when one of the developers allegedly accidentally activated a vulnerability in a smart contract. Previously considered means of returning the funds assumed global changes in the code and the power of the Ethereum network, which evoked sharp criticism from both Ethereum developers and the entire crypto community. And on April 15, Parity Technologies communications specialist Afri Schoedon published the EIP-999 proposal describing how to restore the Parity Ethereum wallet library using code that does not have a self-destruct function. Initially, this proposal was not intended to alter the broader network, as unlike previous ones, it required point changes that would affect only the client itself and 513,774.16 of the Ethers lost due to the bug in the wallet.
At the end of last week, however, discussion of the EIP-999 code again caused heated controversy at the Ethereum developers' meeting, and many members of the community expressed concern that its implementation would also provoke a hard fork. "No matter what position you take, it is clear that the issue is so controversial, that the introduction of the EIP-999 code will lead to a hard fork. This will inevitably create a network split," said Alex Van de Sande, Ethereum browser developer at Mist.
These fears are shared by users as a poll conducted among the Ether lovers showed 330 votes against a new proposal for the return of Parity funds and 300 votes in support of it, and nine more participants chose the item "I do not care." At the same time, the decisive factor in determining the results was the number of Ethers on the accounts of those who voted at the time of the closure of the vote. Taking into account these figures, 2.2 million Ethers (55%) were set against, 1.5 million for (39.4%), and 120,000 "indifferent" (5.6%).
Parity, launched in 2015 by Ethereum cofounder Gavin Wood, became the second most popular (after Geth) client for Ethereum, which is used by almost a third of the entire network. "Parity is a significant development team, and they have very strong incentives to create a fork and support it," said Van de Sande.
The meeting was attended by two representatives of Parity, communications specialist Afri Schoedon, who is the author of the proposal, and Parity CEO Jutta Steiner. She urged the client developers to create software that will support EIP-999, but noted that the company "has not decided yet" whether to activate the modified code (Parity representatives told CoinDesk that the official announcement would be published in the coming days). Steiner does not agree that changing the code will inevitably lead to the network's hard fork, and Schoedon said: "For me, the most logical step is to simply implement EIP-999, and I do not see any advantage in waiting for a final decision to be made for another four weeks."
On the side of those who are convinced of the inevitable split of Ethereum in the implementation of EIP-999 was Peter Szilágyi, the leading developer of the main client of the Ethereum Geth network, who said: "We are talking about the same network and in fact, we are starting an intertribal war. I do not think that we can agree." In this case, Parity's decision will directly affect Geth. Both clients are linked, because each of them interacts with the Ethereum virtual machine, transforming the language of smart contracts into standard code, but they perform this translation in different programming languages. The clients of Parity and Geth, however, must be synchronized with one another and with all the Ethereum blockchain. That is, they must stay on the same blockchain and have the same code. And if one team implements the EIP-999 proposal, and the other does not, the blockchain can split, forming two Ethereum networks.
In this case, the networks will differ only in support of the code for the return of Parity funds. This situation was described by Van de Sande in a post on Medium under the heading "Avoid Evil Twins: Every Ethereum App Pays the Price of a Chain Split." In his opinion, the split in Ethereum will affect not only transactions but also the tokens and applications created on the basis of Ethereum, as after the hard fork, each smart contract will exist simultaneously on both blockchains. "If you own rare online kittens, each of them will find a twin in a parallel universe," wrote Van de Sande. He believes that, under the best scenario, the forked blockchain will have a very small community and most applications will support the original chain, "but it is still possible that two opposing communities will be formed as a result."
According to Van de Sande, there are considerations that can stop Parity from implementing EIP-999, as with the almost inevitable split, both formed blockchains will lose value due to the simultaneous split of the community, and hence, the released Parity funds will fall in price. "Because of the huge amount of Ether, which is now locked, the losses can amount to millions of dollars. In this case, they will not be so interested in the hard fork," said Van de Sande. He is currently working on another proposal to return the funds, the main advantage of which will be to save the cost of the tokens. "The question is how to ensure the value of these tokens, and I, and hopefully other developers, will work more on this issue."