[Bitcoin-development] bloom filtering, privacy

Wladimir laanwj at gmail.com
Fri Feb 20 16:18:10 UTC 2015

Hello Adam,

On Fri, 20 Feb 2015, Adam Back wrote:

> So I was wondering what about changing to committing a bloom filter of
> the addresses in the block.  Its seems surprising no one thought of it
> that way before (as it seems obvious when you hear it) but that seems
> to address the privacy issues as the user can fetch the block bloom
> filters and then scan it in complete privacy.  (Someone appeared on
> bitcoin wizards IRC a while back and made this observation.)

I have heard this idea of inverting the bloom filter before (possibly in 
#bitcoin-wizards), and as I see it it would indeed improve the privacy. 
Apart from privacy it would also lower the burden for nodes. A block scan 
with bloom filter is effectively a cheap DoS on a node.

In addition to that it will also avoid the 'transaction withholding 
attack' that is possible with the current bloom filtering, at least if the 
filter is e.g. committed to in the block header.

The drawback would be overhead - the bloom filter per block will have a 
significant size (to avoid false positives), and the client would have to 
fetch entire blocks that have its transactions in it.

I don't think that is so bad in practice, after all the % of blocks that 
will have transactions for a given wallet will generally be low, so the 
block size is amortized in a way. Of course, if the block size would be 
increased this would become worse.


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