Constantinople Could Help Unfreeze 500,000+ Stuck ETH

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Ethereum’s Constantinople upgrade could have paved the way for the 500,000+ ETH that were accidentally locked in Parity wallets in 2017 to be recovered, according to Parity CEO Jutta Steiner. Steiner believes that a recent addition to the Ethereum code means that the coins that were accidentally locked sixteen months ago should be released, via a hard fork.

Over Half a Million ETH Stuck

On November 8, 2017, the Parity network was upgraded following a hack that July that had seen over 150,000 ETH stolen. However, the upgrade to patch the hole contained a then-undiscovered vulnerability, which was unfortunately triggered by a user, with the result that 513,774 ETH held in 587 different wallets, worth approximately $155 million at the time, were frozen.

What to do about the locked funds has been a source of controversy and disagreement ever since, with Parity pushing for a hard fork that would free up the funds. The Ethereum community however has resisted this type of action in the intervening time, stating that a hard fork is too extreme, meaning that the funds have simply remained in stasis, waiting for a time when they can be set free… and that time may have come.

Steiner Pushes Case for Hard Fork

Ethereum’s recent Constantinople upgrade introduced a feature called CREATE2, which allows a predetermined contract to be created at an address by different parties, meaning that access could still be granted should a Parity-style incident happen again. Steiner has used the introduction of CREATE2 to pitch the hard fork plan to the community once more, which she discussed recently on Fortune’s ‘Balancing the Ledger’ show:

If that functionality CREATE2 had existed at the time, there wouldn’t have been a vulnerability, basically. So if you think now, okay, we introduced and sort of fixed the tooling, then wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to also fix the issues that arose when we didn’t have the tooling?

The only vote to have been taken so far on the Parity hard fork issue resulted in a 55/45 split back in April 2018, and it’s hard to see how the creation of a tool to prevent against another Parity incident warrants a hard fork to remedy the mistakes made back then.

The Ethereum community have decided so far not to comment on the suggestions, and until another official proposal is lodged there is little chance that the affected users will be getting their ETH, which is now worth over half what it was at the time, back any time soon.