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Helium Network Anti-Gaming Action

Helium’s mission has always been to build a global contiguous network. With the help of our community and the HNT incentive mechanism, we have created a useful global network. However, as the network has grown, so too has the prevalence of malicious activity and institutional cheating. This activity is an attack on the network. It seeks to game the system with the sole intent of exploiting proof-of-coverage rewards without providing any real value to the network.

Since the beginning of the network, we have always monitored malicious activity and tested various anti-gaming techniques, including blackbox analysis in isolated scenarios to assess gaming behavior and the accuracy of our detection. All blockchains suffer from malicious activity and countermeasures are not uncommon. Until recently, no major action was needed.

However, in December network gaming grew to a point where I felt that honest hotspot hosts, and the integrity of the network, were at a material risk. At my instruction, I asked Helium Inc. developers to build a network protection mechanism to prevent malicious actors and other forms of institutional gaming from stealing any more rewards. Ahead of HIP-40, we planned to operate this mechanism until the community installed a community-governed moderation process. We have no desire to moderate a denylist unless entrusted with this role by the community through a governance process, and we have no desire to keep code proprietary, which is why we’re planning to open source everything—including the set of analysis scripts used today and data infrastructure that manages the denylist—after the self-regulating community process is in place.

We acknowledge, however, that scripting these kinds of solutions can lead to some mistakes, which recently hurt some good Hotspot deployments. We’ve since made some improvements that we believe remove innocent actors from the list. These tests resulted in a lot of learning which will help the community as responsibility moves to the DeWi and the anti-gaming committee, driven by the community.

This brings us to HIP-40.

HIP-40 was proposed in late September. Its goal is to create a community-moderated backstop prevention mechanism that allows the network to deal with obvious gaming and spoofing situations. DeWi wanted to give the community enough time to debate before calling for a vote, but we think the recent gaming activity has forced our hand. We have started writing the code that would implement an initial version of HIP 40 and would like to bring it to a vote as quickly as possible. Once the results of the vote have materialized, we will abide by the vote.

My hope is that HIP-40 passes and the DeWi staffs up to govern all anti-gaming work. When that happens, Helium will hand over the responsibility and code so that the community can self-govern. Testing and implementing anti-gaming techniques should be a decision and action taken by the community.

Additionally, it should be known that we’ve donated 1.5M HNT to the DeWi to drive and fund community endeavors such as anti-gaming and network expansion. We will continue to donate resources to the foundation as this is an important issue that will need continuous monitoring and improvement.

I was, and still am, acting in the best interest of the network, and I stand by my actions. As the core founders of the Helium blockchain, I felt it was necessary to create and implement the tooling so that the network can build more efficiently. Centralized controls for anti-gaming go against everything we stand for, but I felt that it was a necessary action to protect the good actors as well as the integrity of the Helium Network overall. The denylist and the detection tools behind it have been an extraordinarily effective weapon against institutionalized forms of gaming such as large-scale attenuator and resistor networks.

As a next step, I have asked DeWi to post two votes on with two separate questions.

Should Helium, Inc continue to manage the denylist that is embedded in miner images until such time that a HIP-40 implementation is approved or if HIP-40 is rejected by the community?

Should Helium, Inc. publish the current denylist even though it may allow existing gaming hotspots to change their setups to avoid being detected?

These two immediate votes will run for approximately 48 hours (in block time) and the core developers will abide by any outcome that is agreed upon by the community. These votes are independent of the HIP-40 vote which will be the final community decision on whether or not this sort of mitigation tactic is approved by the community.

Source: capcom @ Official Helium Community Discord

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