Blockchain-based messaging and payments platform Elixxir—created by the Godfather of Crypto, David Chaum—has moved to a public alpha. On Saturday, the Prelixxir app was quietly released on both iOS and Android, to provide access to the testing network, which is set to go live in a few months.
The new app will finally let those who’ve been following the project get their hands on the app, as well as news about it, in a limited testing mode. The team hopes the alpha will show that Elixxir is user-friendly and ready for consumer adoption; it aims to get tens of thousands of people on-board, to collect feedback.
In many ways, the ambitious project is an appropriate coda to Chaum’s life’s work. Chaum, 64, a legend in the cypherpunk community, invented an early form of digital cash called DigiCash, in 1990.
Elixxir aims to tackle the “metadata problem,” as Chaum puts it. He says that the Internet itself suffered a fall from grace back in its earliest days when messaging protocols were being established. With pressure from the U.S. government, the decision was made to leave routing data—the sender, recipient and time of day, among other things—unencrypted, in plain text.
Elixxir intends to undo all of that, by using so-called “mix networks,” a technology that Chaum pioneered in the early 80’s, and which he has improved during the intervening years. Mix networks reroute messaging information as it travels from sender to receiver in such a way that the metadata cannot be accessed by any one party.
And this, Chaum says, provides ultimate privacy.
“Elixxir is the only metadata-protecting platform that’s out there, and certainly the only one based on blockchain,” Chaum told Decrypt. “Messaging and metadata need to be protected to take back control over social media from the centralized folks who have been spying on us and making more money than anybody’s made in history in a single company.”
Chaum points to the wide swing in how social media giants, such as Facebook, have been perceived during the past decade: “The change from the public’s love of big tech companies to ‘we hate them, they’re stealing our stuff, we don’t trust them’ happened in an amazingly short time.”
Prelixxir is a precursor to a dapp that will be released when the Elixxir network goes live. As such, the dapp will be censorship resistant and anyone will be able to access it. However, in the meantime, Elixxir has to work within the constraints of the current media giants. As a result, for iOS users, the testing will actually happen on a separate platform, in keeping with the Apple Store’s guidelines.
Elixxir is temporarily bowing to the will of the tech giants, but it’s doing so to break free.