Infura, ethereum’s biggest node infrastructure provider, which handles some 10 billion requests a day, has for the first time blocked access to a smart contract.
“Infura and Alchemy are now blocking RPC requests to Tornado Cash,” says an eth dev before adding:
“Centralized RPC services are one of the cancers that undermine the core benefits of crypto.
As long as they dominate the market, no protocol is truly permissionless.”
This is the first time since bitcoin was invented in 2009 that a crypto infrastructure provider takes this sort of action.
An RPC request can best be explained as a DNS request. Just like an ISP can block access to a website, those that use the Infura node service – a significant part of wallets and defi, including MetaMask – can also be blocked requests.
You can always run your own node of course, but they tend to be heavy at half a terabyte and clunky in requiring your computer services, and you might need extra servers if many will connect to your node.
Most thus delegate that aspect to Infura under the expectation, at least until now, that the node provider will be fully neutral.
That has been the case so far, but the unprecedented sanctioning of the Tornado Cash mixer smart contract has now changed the assumption as Infura can, and even will, censor at least when under orders by the US government.