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45% of ETH validators now comply with US sanctions Labrys CEO

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According to the CEO of blockchain development agency Labrys, Lachan Feeney, approximately 45% of all Ethereum blocks currently in validation run MEV-boost relay flashbots and comply with US sanctions.

Speaking to Cointelegraph in an interview on September 30, Feeney noted that while reports have indicated that 25% of all blocks validated since the merger are in compliance with US sanctions, this is a lagging indicator and the number current is likely to be closer to one. in two blocks.

Feeney pointed out that MEV-Boost relays are regulated companies, often based in the United States, and censor certain transactions in the blocks they build, especially Tornado Cash transactions.

The CEO also pointed out that validators have a financial incentive to use MEV-Boost relays, which would lead to increased usage, noting:

The problem is that from the validators point of view, these guys are paying them to kind of do this. So, if you want to make more money, you just have to activate this feature and as a validator, you somehow increase your return.

MEV-Boost relays are centralized entities dedicated to the efficient extraction of maximum extractable value (MEV). Flashbots being the most popular, MEV-Boost Relays effectively allow validators to outsource block production and sell the right to build a block to the highest bidder.

Labrys released an MEV Watch tool on September 28, which can notify validators of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions-compliant MEV-Boost relays. Referring to the motivation behind the tool, Feeney said:

Let’s just try to raise awareness for those who don’t know that by running this software they are potentially contributing to network censorship.

Feeney noted a worst-case situation often referred to as hard censorship, where nodes would be forced by regulation to reject essentially all blocks containing one of these transactions.

This would mean that no matter how long you waited, no matter how much you paid, you would never get to a point where these sanctioned transactions were included in the blockchain, he explained.

He also pointed out that even with soft censorship, where sanctioned transactions would eventually be validated, it could take hours and incur high priority fees, resulting in a poor user experience.

Related: MEV bot wins $1 million but loses it all to hacker an hour later

These findings are reinforced by Ethereum researcher Toni Wahrsttter, who published research on September 28 suggesting that of the 19,436 blocks verified by Flashbots Mev-Boost Relay, none included a Tornado cash transaction.

How many blocks of different MEV Boost relays contain Tornado Cash transactions. Source: Toni Wahrsttter.

Censorship fears were prevalent before The Merge. Speaking to Cointelegraph, lead investigator for crypto compliance and forensic firm Merkle Science, Coby Moran, suggested that the prohibitive cost of becoming a validator could lead to the consolidation of validating nodes towards larger crypto companies. crypto that are much more likely to be influenced by the government. punishments.

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