Voluntarism.dev, a self-described group of ‘old-guard miners and whales’, today launched a 51% attack on Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHA) in protest over Bitcoin Cash’s contentious hard-fork on November 15.
The anonymous group modified ‘the coinbase rule’ so that mining Bitcoin Cash sends 100% of the block rewards to the address associated with the Infrastructure Funding Plan (IFP)—instead of the controversial IFP tax of 8% that led to the hard-fork.This would render mining for BCHA worthless for the miners.
A 51% attack refers to crypto attacks where malicious actors take over the majority (hence, 51%) of the network’s hashing rate and can single-handedly impose policies on the network.
In early November, the Bitcoin Cash blockchain split into two: Bitcoin Cash Node (BCHN) and Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHA). The split, or the hard-fork, followed the controversial coinbase rule, a proposed 8% tax on all miner profits proposed to go to a developer team. This was hugely unpopular with the users of Bitcoin Cash.
51% attacks are not rare in crypto. They are pricey, too. Earlier this autumn, Ethereum Classic, a fork of the Ethereum blockchain, suffered three 51% attacks, which potentially cost the attacker $3,800 in rented hash power. In April, Decrypt reported that a one-hour 51% attack on Bitcoin Cash cost roughly $7,300, which at the time was equivalent to 1 BTC.
Voluntarism.dev is not daunted by the costs of launching 51% attacks, which it calculates is much less what ABC’s policy cost them.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, thinks the intention is to single-handedly destroy the network.
Mining pool 51% attacks BCHA seemingly with the explicit goal of destroying it. Will this be the first true spawn camp attack on a PoW chain?
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 28, 2020
What separates this attack from earlier ones is how politically charged it is. In a tweet statement, the group justified its 51% attack on grounds that the “ABC violated the NAP.”
ABC violated the NAP with 9 months of civil war. freeriders must pay 100% of the block reward to ABC. we will orphan all blocks that do not. we will pay 100% as well, once ABC merges this change https://t.co/82rcZPWQ6N
— voluntarism.dev (@DevVoluntarism) November 27, 2020
Cladded with the libertarian Gadsden flag, the group invokes the libertarian axiom of the ‘non-aggression principle’ that supposedly prohibits any initiation of force or coercion.
Accordingly, the group claims, ABC initiated force against miners by introducing the coinbase rule that tax their profits at 8%.
This anti-tax sentiment on grounds of the NAP has long been part of the crypto movement: in 2019, for example, Bitcoin.com released an educational video on tax and the NAP. The video is presented by Roger Ver, a major proponent of Bitcoin Cash, sporting a voluntaryist flag t-shirt.
There is a striking resemblance between that 2019 video and the voluntarist.dev’s statement today, but there is no public indication that Roger Ver is part of the group behind today’s attack.
Even though the anti-tax stance on grounds of NAP has been adopted by the libertarian crypto enthusiasts and even manifested itself as the rationale behind today’s attack, the contemporary libertarian philosophers outside the crypto bubble dismiss the principle as question-begging.
Bitcoin Cash ABC’s price has not been adversely affected by the attack. On the contrary, it today hit $18.22 with an increase of 1.33% over the past 24 hours.