Protocol Labs Research
2023-02-13 / Report
tlock: Practical timelock encryption from threshold BLS
Nicolas Gailly , Kelsey Melissaris, Yolan Romailler


We present a practical construction and implementation of timelock encryption, in which a ciphertext is guaranteed to be decryptable only after some specified time has passed. We employ an existing threshold network, the League of Entropy, implementing threshold BLS [BLS01, B03] in the context of Boneh and Franklin’s identity-based encryption (IBE). At present this threshold network broadcasts BLS signatures over each round number, equivalent to the current time interval, and as such can be considered a decentralised key holder periodically publishing private keys for the IBE where identities are the round numbers. A noticeable advantage of this scheme is that only the encryptors and decryptors are required to perform any additional cryptographic operations; the threshold network can remain unaware of the TLE and does not have to change to support the scheme. We also release an open-source implementation of our scheme and a live web page that can be used in production now relying on the existing League of Entropy network acting as a distributed public randomness beacon service using threshold BLS signatures.