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Could Flashbots Help Counter Ethereum Censorship?

Ethereum censorship

The U.S. regulatory crackdown on crypto mixer Tornado Cash for sanction violations has undoubtedly sent ripples through the crypto community.

The team of developers behind MEV-Boost, also known as Flashbots, has accelerated the open-sourcing of some of its code as the broader Ethereum community faces greater scrutiny of transaction censorship.

The acceleration of open sourcing some of its code was in reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (DOFA) sanctioning Tornado Cash – a service that automises transactions -as it was deemed that it avetted money laundering.

The news of the arrest of Alexey Pertsev, who wrote the code for the mixer, shook the community even more.

Serving the purpose of separating ‘builders’ who create blocks of transactions from ‘proposers’ who propagate those blocks out to the wider network, MEV-Boost follows the Ethereum change of consensus mechanism from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) proposed to happen around 15 September.

Flashbot’s unique selling point, at least according to its developers, is that it helps validators – the computers that process transactions on Ethereum’s PoS network to easily and equitably extract Maximal Extractable Value (MEV). They are extra income that validators can earn by strategically selecting the transactions that they add to a given block.

Last week, Flashbots confirmed that it would censor the default relay it used to pass pre-built blocks from builders to proposers. This sparked controversy as the relay might exclude transactions involving addresses connected to Tornado Cash and other OFAC-sanctioned addresses under the OFAC sanctions.

The team responded in a blog post claiming that it would aim to deliver the relay codes to developers earlier than planned to facilitate third-party relays. These third party relays will not have to comply with OFAC sanctions.

Micah Zoltu, the founder of Serv.eth Support told Coindesk that the outcry around Flashbots’ decision to censor transactions was a wake up call for other relay providers. Zoltu believes that most relay providers should offer censorship-free relay options, and validators will prefer to run these non-censored relays.

Nevertheless, the community and developers are still unsure what they should do to combat censorship ahead of the Merge at this stage.

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