- The Block spoke to the anonymous developer who has triggered a mass backlash this week by launching a file storage app on the XRP ledger
- Ripple was not designed for censorship-resistant file storage but is technically a viable platform for it; sparking fears that the blockchain could be crippled by an overload or that illegal files could be uploaded onto it
- The developer, who calls themselves a blockchain “novice,” explains their intentions and the possibility of scrapping the app amid the pressure
Blockchains, notoriously, have a plethora of use cases. But this week, an anonymous developer who launched a file storage app on the prolific Ripple ledger faced a backlash for what the community says is a use-case too far.
Ripple community members have argued online that file storage is not appropriate for Ripple’s ledger; or indeed any blockchain. After paying approximately $11 for one megabyte of indefinite (or at least as long as Ripple is running) storage, the files are nearly impossible to change or delete, potentially including illegal images. There are also fears that large uploads could slow the Ripple network (which powers the XRP token) down, as it would require a lot of transactions and validator cooperation.
Masses of XRP community members told the developer, who remains anonymous, that the app, called IndImm, could bring fragility to XRP by using it for file storage. To address IndImm’s potential impact, a pull request has been opened for Ripple’s code to charge fees for use of memo.
“What in the f*** is the point of even doing this other than to attract gutter trash to create problems on the network. what’s your goal? what’s the purpose of this?,” one user asked.
Announcing the beta release of IndImm. IndImm, using the IndImm Messaging Protocol(IMP) on top of the #Ripple #blockchain, allows users to upload files of ANY SIZE to the ripple blockchain and exist forever to be downloaded, #Indestructible and #Immutable. #crypto #censorship pic.twitter.com/VCZsrpmNUm
— IndImm – Upload Any Size File to Ripple Blockchain (@ind_imm) July 23, 2019
A preview of the dApp’ s upload interface. So far, downloadable items include the Bitcoin whitepaper, for instance.
For their part, the developer questioned whether the Ripple ledger was stable enough if they could singlehandedly pose such a threat, tweeting: “Could a single malicious operator with a few thousand dollars of XRP equivalent bring down the entire #blockchain?”
Now, in an interview with The Block, the developer explains why they launched the censorship-resistant storage app and why its future may hang in the balance.
Who, why, and how?
Although little is known about the developer themselves, they say they are “not an expert” on blockchain development and have “very shallow” knowledge of Ripple.
So why then, have they ventured into such a divisive part of the industry?
At the core, it seems the developer’s fundamental interest lies in crypto adoption and their frustration that “99%” are being used as tradeable, speculative assets. To that point, they believe dApps like theirs IndImm could form part of a “large and non-trivial market.”
“My intentions for this project are two-fold: fighting censorship and to see crypto actually have utilization,” they told The Block via private messages.
“IndImm’s potential large transaction amounts leads to two results: a) High usage … [and] b) High liquidity,” which could arguably limit XRP’s volatility and make “it a safe blockchain to use for payments.”
They added that they selected Ripple for this specific experiment over lower fee alternatives because they wanted a blockchain “with a solid track record, a solid community, and name recognition.” They also praised Ripple’s “easy-to-use API”, along with its high transaction speeds.
The developer, however, emphasized that they do “not like the spotlight,” and do not seek to make personal gains from the project, which is open-source.
Facing the music
Uncensored file storage brings complications. Indeed, there are fears the IndImm app could be used for illegal uploads, like child pornography.
But the developer argues such critiques hark back to the early days of the web and VPNs, which they say is now “pretty much” anti-censorship too.
They also said that while the public reaction had been extreme, it hadn’t been all bad, with other developers among the supporters.
“[I’d say] about 75% positive, 25% very negative.”
In a separate post, they also commented that bandwidth concerns were a “non-issue,” and that it could be addressed if needed.
However, the developer says they are thinking seriously about accusations that their work could threaten Ripple’s existence.
“It has been communicated to me by numerous node operators that it is a great fear of theirs… I think the big issue is storage cost and processing cost.”
The developer also conceded that some critiques had forced them to take stock about whether to continue building the app.
“The future of the project is in limbo…I am considering a…number of options and stopping development is one, though my least preferred.”
They added: “My goal is not to cause harm to Ripple, XRPL or the community and I don’t want that to be a byproduct.”