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Coinbase’s Neutrality Principles for Base

TL;DR: Base is a secure, open, and permissionless Ethereum L2 incubating at Coinbase with a commitment to decentralization. To advance and ensure Base's commitment to neutrality and decentralization, we're introducing the Base Neutrality Principles. Upheld by both Base and Coinbase, these guidelines ensure adherence to the Law of Chains, user autonomy over their crypto, unbiased transaction sequencing on Base, discretion with non-public data, and unrestricted withdrawals from Base. 

By Will Robinson

Product

, August 24, 2023

, 5 minutes read time

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As we worked to launch Base, we were inspired by the enthusiasm of builders around the world. Alongside this enthusiasm, we’ve received thoughtful questions about Base’s relationship with Coinbase. While Coinbase is a publicly traded company known for operating a centralized exchange, Base is an open and permissionless Ethereum L2. How will these two entities interact?

We’ve incubated Base inside of Coinbase as part of the company’s long-standing plan to create an open financial system that increases economic freedom globally. A low-cost and easy-to-use platform will help to create that system and bring the next billion users onchain. Base is that platform, and a plan is already underway to further decentralize over time. 

To do this, Base needs to be an open and neutral platform where builders and users can freely participate. This belief drives Base’s commitment to Optimism’s “Law of Chains,” a set of common standards for protocols seeking to be part of the Superchain vision of scaling Ethereum. Alongside the commitment to the Law of Chains, Base is also pushing forward decentralization through technical contributions and sustainable funding mechanisms. You can read more in the Base blog post.

Today, we’re sharing the Base Neutrality Principles, jointly upheld across the Base and Coinbase teams. These principles have been central to our work on Base since day one and play a critical role in the relationship between Base and Coinbase.

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  • Neutrality Principle #1: The Law of Chains. Coinbase is committed to uphold the “Law of Chains” as the paramount neutrality principle for Base. The Law of Chains establishes a common set of standards for all OP Stack blockchains and ensures both builders and users can access the neutral and open blockspace of Base. As the second core developer of the OP Stack, the Base team collaborated closely with Optimism on defining the initial draft of the Law of Chains and will continue to work closely with the Optimism Collective to evolve this principle as we receive community feedback.

  • Neutrality Principle #2: Your Keys, Your Crypto. Coinbase does not custody or control the crypto that users bring to the Base network. Like on Ethereum mainnet, possession of a crypto asset depends on holding a valid private key. Users—not Coinbase—are responsible for their actions on the network.

  • Neutrality Principle #3: Transaction Ordering is a Free Market. Coinbase does not influence, discriminate, or give preference for the ordering of transactions that occur on Base. Like the post office, the Base network delivers messages based only on time of receipt and optional priority fees set by users. No Coinbase product, customer, or partner gets special rights to jump the queue.

  • Neutrality Principle #4: Equal Access to Information. Coinbase will not misuse any non-public information gleaned from Base. Private transaction data (including any insights that the Base team has access to by virtue of operating the sequencer, such as transaction ordering) is not used for marketing or any other business purposes. Coinbase and its partners will rely on the same publicly available data as everyone else.

  • Neutrality Principle #5: Freedom to Exit. Coinbase does not impose limitations on withdrawals from Base. A user who is unsatisfied with Base is free to withdraw their assets at will and without any penalty. Coinbase does not use exit barriers to defend any subpar experience or policy.

Not only are these five principles each important in their own right, but they are also mutually reinforcing. For example, providing freedom to exit is a powerful constraint to ensure Base remains an open source protocol. In turn, the commitment to an open source protocol ensures that we will never violate our commitment to transaction and information neutrality. The principles are the very foundation required to create a network where the power can't be abused by any single party. These neutrality principles provide a clear vision for how a protocol launched by a centralized company can flourish into a decentralized and permissionless network. 

We invite the community to continuously ask the hard questions and to have patience as we scale and grow Base in accordance with these principles. We may not have all the answers immediately, but we will listen to your feedback and provide updates as we make progress.

Follow Base on Mirror and X for regular updates, and join our community on Discord.

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Will Robinson

About Will Robinson

Will Robinson serves as our VP of Engineering, leading our developer product suite. His teams enable direct user interactions with blockchains through products and services including Coinbase Cloud, core cryptographic primitives, hot and cold storage, yield, staking, asset additions and maintenance, and Coinbase NFT. Prior to Coinbase, Mr. Robinson served as the Chief Technology Officer at ASAPP, an AI-powered customer software platform. Mr. Robinson spent nearly 13 years at Google in multiple technical leadership roles, from running the Google Chicago engineering team to being Chief Technology Officer of Chronical, an independent Alphabet company focused on enterprise cybersecurity. Mr. Robinson graduated from Stanford with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science.