The fact that this will also occur on the mainnet is not a concern for Ethereum developers.
With the introduction of ERC-4804, Web3 URLs have been made available on Ethereum, enabling users to access Ethereum apps and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) without being concerned about centralized censorship.
On February 14, 2022, the new Ethereum standard, dubbed "Web3 URL to EVM Call Message Translation," was first put forward. It was co-authored by Qi Zhou, the creator of ETHStorage, Sam Wilson, and Chao Pi.
In order to immediately access on-chain Web3 content, such as decentralized apps (DApps) front ends and NFTs, the idea was defined as a "HTTP-style" URL. ERC-4804 was accepted and published on the mainnet on March 1 more than a year later.
According to Anthurine Xiang, a representative for the layer-2 storage protocol ETHStorage, the ecosystem frequently still uses centralized web servers to access "decentralized" apps.
“Right now, all the DApps like Uniswap [...] claim to be decentralized apps,”
Xiang explained, adding:
“But how [do] we get on the webpage? You have to go through the DNS. You have to go through GoDaddy. [...] All those are centralized servers.”
The majority of users today utilize HTTP, or "Hypertext Transfer Protocol," to access the internet.
The computer utilizes HTTP to ask another computer to receive the requested information, such as a website or images, when a user clicks a link or puts in a website address on the internet.
With ERC-4804, internet users have the option to put in "web3:/" (as opposed to "http://") in their browsers to bring up DApps such as Uniswap or on-chain NFTs directly. This is due to the standard's ability to enable direct querying of the Ethereum Virtual Machine by users (EVM).
If the content of the website is stored on the Ethereum blockchain or a suitable layer-2 protocol, then it is theoretically possible to access the entire website using these methods. But, the expenses of accomplishing this are still quite prohibitive, according to ETHStorage creator Qi Zhou.
“The critical issue here is that the storage cost on Ethereum is super, super expensive on mainnet,”
Zhou said in a recent presentation at ETHDenver.
“For example, 1 Gigabyte of on-chain data will cost roughly $10 million. [...] That is unacceptable for a lot of Web2 applications and even a lot of NFTs,”
Zhou added, noting that layer-2 storage solutions could help mitigate some of the costs.
Xiang suggested that, given the costs, the new URL standard makes sense only for specific applications.
“Not everything needs to go decentralized. If you are running a pretty good Web2 business and you don’t have to worry too much about centralized censorship. [...] You can just go for that.”
Nonetheless, the new standard might be helpful for DApps or websites that are at risk of being blocked, like Tornado Cash.
“For example, for Tornado Cash, a lot of people can’t get to them through their website because there’s censorship.”
“If you’re a DApp and you’ve already been decentralized, why are you still using a centralized website for people to get access to you?”
When asked if bad actors may use the new norm to engage in illegal conduct, Xiang responded:
“This is really hard to say just like how Bitcoin was founded. I think Bitcoin was not born for evil, but still, in the beginning, people [were] doing shady things like the Silk Road, they had been using Bitcoin.”
As with Bitcoin, according to Xiang, they are only providing individuals with a decentralized choice that they would not otherwise have.
Although it is not the first approach to decentralized web hosting, the new Ethereum standard is the first of its sort for the blockchain, according to Xiang.
A network designed to do what centralized cloud servers now provide using decentralized methods is the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). An IPFS URL, on the other hand, can only refer to static material; this content cannot be modified or altered, according to Xiang.
According to Xiang, ERC-4804 would support "dynamic data," such as letting users engage with website content by leaving likes and comments. The standard is anticipated to interact with other blockchains considerably more easily because it is native to Ethereum, according to Xiang.