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Protocol Engineering Swarm

Protocol Engineering Swarm


This swarm will research and develop a set of open protocols that is a reflection of our our principles.

This set of protocols will as a whole enable the implementation of the Status whitepaper, and similar use cases, through various clients. Part of the effort will be about selecting existing protocols and standards, when appropriate, and part of it will be about developing new protocols to meet our needs.

Initial focus is on providing an anonymous communication protocol, which is developed in conjunction with other teams in the Web3 / secure communication space.


  1. Create a set of open protocol(s) for secure communication that reflects our principles.

  2. Produce an open, independent protocol specification can be audited, tested independently and implemented in many languages.

  3. Work with other teams in the Ethereum, Web3, decentralized web and secure communication space to ensure maximum interoperability and a high quality specification that other actors take seriously.

  4. Use a layered protocol approach that is mindful and explicit about what it requires, what it provides, under what threat models, and with what trade-offs.

  5. Enable implementation of clients to participate in the Status Network, and work with teams such as Status Core, to find a graceful path to implement and integrate the new set of protocols.


status channel (same as swarm id):

sync frequency: One person team right now so no specific sync; weekly updates (see below); currently ad hoc sync with Web3 foundation etc


Weekly progress reports and accessible updates

The swarm will provide weekly updates on research progress, either through this document, Discuss posts, Town Hall, or similar medium.

The swarm will also periodically post more accessible material to explain the effort, challenges and trade-offs faced.

Using a layered and modular approach

This swarm will ensure the the protocols are designed in a layered and modular fashion. This allows subproblems to be studied and progressing in isolation, as well giving the ability to swap out components per layer based on needs.

Very rough thinking right now:

  • Initial trust establishment (e.g. something like BQP)

  • P2P Overlay layer (e.g. something like libp2p)

  • Transport privacy layer (e.g. something like Loopix)

  • Conversational security layer (e.g. something like BTP)

  • Syncing layer (e.g. something like BSP)

  • Chat clients (public/private/group chat)

Team growth and collaboration with other teams

This effort is about creating open specifications, so we need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets, as well as general consensus among community. Creating a protocol in isolation would likely lead to a lackluster result.

This swarm will collaborate with Ethereum / Web3 / decentralized web / secure messaging teams in an attempt to re-use existing work and create protocols together.

Additionally, this team will involve individuals with relevant expertise. Ideally individuals who have designed 1-2 open, battle-tested p2p protocols.

Reflection of our principles

The protocol should be a reflection of our principles.

  • I. Liberty - enable sovereignty of individuals with things like key management, as well as economic freedom, etc, by enabling transaction of funds and socio-economic coordination between small groups of people.

  • II. Censorship resistance - enable censorship resistance through things like pluggable transports, as well as being agnostic to the information being transported.

  • III. Security - use state-of-the-art technologies, and research new security methods and technologies to make strong security guarantees.

  • IV. Privacy - protect privacy in communication and transactions, and strive to provide right to total anonymity.

  • V. Transparency - be open about what we are doing, allow community contributions and be clear about trade-offs.

  • VI. Openness - specification is open and under a permissive license.

  • VII. Decentralization - p2p network, maximizing number of computers/humans who can control and use the protocol we are building.

  • VIII. Inclusivity - easy to use our protocols, as well as working towards interopability with other protocols, and educating users.

  • IX. Continuance - network should be incentivized to continue on its own.

  • X. Resourcefulness - work with other teams to avoid duplication of effort, study prior work deeply to minimize wasted and duplicate effort.

Anonymous Communication Protocol requirements

The purpose of an anonymous communication (AC) protocol is to ensure metadata isn’t leaked when messages are communicated between peers. It deals with how messages are transported, and not what is in them.

This is the inital focus and work has begun together with Web3 Foundation and Validity Labs. Note that this list of requirements is tentative.

  1. Sender Anonymity
  2. Receiver Anonymity
  3. Sender-Receiver Unlinkability
  4. Reasonable Latency
  5. Reasonable Bandwidth
  6. Adaptable Anonymity
  7. Scalable
  8. No specialized Services

Up for debate: incentives, network spam, asynchronous messaging.

Additionally, it should be resigned with mobile in mind (internet connection is unstable and mostly missing, CPU resources are limited, we can't stay in background for a long time and we are behind very strict firewalls that makes it hard for NAT to pass through.)

For more details and the latest updates, see w3f/messaging.


Ensure swarms working with protocols maintain a solid understanding. Includes explaining aspects that go against intuition that have design implication, such as latency, bandwidth, identity, partial graph state, etc.


Headcount based. Small group.

Team / contributors


  • Oskar
  • <1-2 protocol engineerings>

Review/part-time, pending other commitments:

  • Jacek
  • Andrea MP
  • Corey
  • Jarrad

Anonymous Communication Protocol

  • Web3 Foundation
  • Status
  • Validity Labs
  • who else?


The above plan is ambitious and the team size is currently limited. It is thus likely the scope will be limited, at least initially, to ensure solid progress in the most fruitful direction and avoid scope creep.

Expect the precise scope and requirements to change somewhat as we get more familiar with the problem domain, and depending on how research and collaborations with other teams go.


Hard to provide with research, but rough timeline to indicate effort.

Team formation, initial research, and rough project timeline

November 2018 - December 2018


  1. Study state of the art deeply – includes p2p and networking basic literature – as well as anonymity/secure p2p specific (Tor, Briar, etc)
  2. Sketch out rough layers of concerns
  3. Team formation and collaboration with others in the space
  4. Do write-up of lessons learned so far
  • Consider presentation at TH re landscape and lessons learned

Data replication/sync layer

December 2018 - January 2018


Provide 'in-between layer' that synchronizes data over delay-tolerant p2p networks.

Core abstraction that we are currently missing in the app and will give us more freedom going forward, as we implement more chat-like coordination mechanisms, and make progress on alternative transports like PSS and AC protocol below.

Requires secure transport layer, and provides a way for clients to sync data on a peer to peer basis. Thinking very much in line with what BSP provides.

Research and specification (protobuf) thereof. Sketch for how to provide with existing app, and work with Core team to make it into a reality.

Anonymous Communication Protoocol

More details after conversations with Web3 Foundation etc.

December 2018 - March 2018


  • Requirements and goals in more details
  • Workshop with relevant teams
  • Specification that enables theoretical analysis of properties

(- Later: theoretical analysis of properties) (- Later: viable implementation)


Other pieces here. Underspecified at the moment, but see general goals for direction. As research effort continues and above milestones are being achieved, this will be updated.

Research log

January 7 - January 13

  1. Workshop prep: -- 5-7 ppl from Status --
  2. Data Sync layer PoC1 for 1:1 chat: -- Code: -- Protobuf: -- Write-up:

December 21 - January 7

Break. Some data sync prototyping.

December 17 - December 21

December 10 - December 16

December 3 - December 9

  • Looking into distributed/replicated state (BSP, protobuf)
  • Swarm proposal with rough milestones, clear separation and problem statements, 1 milestone
  • Half week due to ETH SG

November 26 - December 2

  • Started awesome secure messaging GH repo:
  • Looking into distributed state / async messaging, some mixnetwork basics to understand how differ design-wise
  • Working with W3F, trying to setup time for workshop
  • Also separate Whisper spec effort ongoing

November 19 - November 25

  1. Sketch out requirements doc for anonymous communication protocol
  2. Talk with Web3 Foundation and Validity Labs
  3. Joint initiative started here

See here for more details:

November 5 - November 18

  1. Initial rough proposal based on discussion at Devcon
  2. Initial early research orientiation
  3. Initial team scoping

See here for more details:



(required) timebox research (approx) See milestones above. Each milestone can be seen as a way a Research>Spec>Implementation>Maintenance cycle.

(optional) eips, competitors, existing research, wireframes, spike (PoC)


do after Research

(required) timebox specification (approx)

(optional) user stories, architecture, designs, PoC

Implementation (LATER)

(required) timebox implementation (approx)

do after Specification

All swarm contributors should test and break the implementation, especially developers

(required) document progress

(optional) townhall demo

Maintenance (LATER)




Waived, CC0.