Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and Concordia University in Quebec have introduced a Blockchain-based system which utilizes onion routing techniques to facilitate anonymous deliveries.
In their official paper entitled “Lelantos: A Blockchain-based Anonymous Physical Delivery System,” researchers wrote:
“In this work, we present a Blockchain-based physical delivery system called Lelantos that within a realistic threat model, offers customer anonymity, fair exchange and merchant customer unlinkability. Our system is inspired by the onion routing techniques which are used to achieve anonymous message delivery.”
Bitcoin and Tor-inspired automated delivery platform
Essentially, the Lelantos Blockchain platform developed by researchers from the two above mentioned Canadian universities uses smart contracts and the immutability of Blockchain technology to facilitate deliveries in a direct manner between delivery companies, sellers and buyers.
In the beginning, the initial smart contract is created and initiated by the purchaser trying to receive products anonymously from the seller. Another smart contract is then made with delivery companies, automating the entire process with the Lelantos Blockchain network.
Two major advantages of utilizing Blockchain technology and smart contracts are the security measures and privacy the two technologies provide. With onion routing techniques, all deliveries are processed anonymously. Because a Blockchain network is immutable, the alteration of data integrated into the Blockchain network is not possible.
Like all Blockchain networks, Lelantos will likely struggle to deal with scaling problems in the future if the user base of the Lelantos Blockchain network grows. Therefore, from the beginning, Lelantos will utilize off-chain solutions to facilitate deliveries.
“This system allows the customer, merchant and a set of customer chosen delivery companies to engage in a delivery smart contract. Such a contract acts as a trusted intermediary to enforce fair monetary transactions and to enable the contractual parties to communicate. Lelantos is composed of an on-chain part which is the smart contract on the Blockchain, and off-chain components which are user-side applications and a web server,” reads the paper.
Necessity of an anonymous delivery system
Government officials and law enforcement agencies will likely criticize the Lelantos network for opening the possibility of illicit goods ordered from the dark web being delivered to buyers anonymously. Already, drugs being ordered by young adults in countries such as the US, UK and Hong Kong have been on the rise.
However, privacy is important and necessary for anyone. Many analysts have stated in the past that solutions such as TumbleBit would benefit Bitcoin users by anonymizing transactions.
Anonymizing the Bitcoin network may increase dark web activity, but it will also protect users from potential attacks. For instance, with the current transparent Blockchain, anyone can track Bitcoin wallets and amounts of Bitcoin stored in the wallets. Such transparency could lead to targeted thefts and attacks.
At the moment, industries including insurance, healthcare and information technology are trying to commercial Blockchain technology due to its immutable nature. If delivery systems such as the Lelantos network see success in the future, it could lead to a major adoption of Blockchain technology by leading service providers including Amazon.