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ConsenSys Under Fire for Collecting MetaMask Users’ Wallet and IP Addresses

Leading Ethereum Wallet Has Over 30M Users

ConsenSys Under Fire for Collecting MetaMask Users’ Wallet and IP Addresses

Consensys, the New York-based blockchain software company behind the leading Ethereum wallet, MetaMask, has shocked decentralization advocates with new changes to its privacy policy.

On Nov. 23, Consensys updated its privacy policy to inform MetaMask’s more than 20M users that their IP and Ethereum wallet addresses will be collected when they transact while using Infura as their default Remote Procedure Call (RPC) provider. 

“When you use Infura as your default RPC provider in MetaMask, Infura will collect your IP address and your Ethereum wallet address when you send a transaction,” Consensys said. “However, if you’re using your own Ethereum node or a third-party RPC provider with MetaMask, then neither Infura nor MetaMask will collect your IP address or Ethereum wallet address.”

Infura is a blockchain tooling and API development company that was acquired by Consensys in October 2019. RPC refers to a software communication protocol that allows web3 applications to interact with blockchains remotely.

Privacy Concerns

Naturally, the move has raised concerns in the web3 community, with some threatening to boycott Consensys’ services.

“It was fun whilst it lasted MetaMask but I value my privacy in this space,” tweeted Pixelvault moderator, Gooniebrad. “Changing wallets ASAP.”

“Time to stop using metamask I guess,” said Beastlyorion, a Cardano staker.

But others believe the people decrying ConsenSys should blame themselves for failing to operate their own infrastructure.

Self Hosting

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for people to get pissed at centralized infra providers collecting more data and potentially censoring,” said Gabriel Shapiro, general counsel at Delphi Labs. “This tech was always geared toward running your own infra and we’re gonna see that put to the test. More education/tooling needed.”

VPN Use

Some in the crypto community are encouraging users to use a VPN to obfuscate their location when using MetaMask, despite a VPN only disrupting the collection of location data and not wallet addresses.

“Once they determine that the majority of IPs come from [the] USA, we’ll see more regulatory capture from the SEC,” tweeted Twitter user, Coinvision. “Use a VPN.”

The updated policy comes three weeks after Chris Blec, an outspoken MakerDAO governance delegate, challenged ConsenSys to explain its contradictory privacy policies for MetaMask.

“Ethereum wallet addresses are listed as data harvested from users in the ConsenSys privacy policy, which is linked from Infura and MetaMask website footers, he tweeted. “But then it goes on to say that MM isn’t collecting your addresses. So which is it?”

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