CryptoNote is the technology that allows the creation of completely anonymous egalitarian cryptocurrencies. A number of our community members have been focused on research and development for more than a decade. We aim to promote the derived principles to influence the contemporary economic paradigm.
The current power distribution on our planet is the legacy of the world where the economy is controlled by the few. The status quo was shaped throughout centuries, making human beings engage in rat races, detrimental rivalry, and bloodshed. In spite of humanity's hope to overcome local crises through education and internationalization, we still fail to have full control over our lives.
However, state-of-the-art advancements in technology, mathematics, and cryptography may become the key to subvert this paradigm. The advent of cryptocurrencies is the first sign that the new world is coming. It is marked with a hope that the economy will interlace with the technology, that communities will set new transparent principles, and impartial cryptographic algorithms will control its implementation.
It is in our philosophy to encourage enlightenment through breakthrough innovations. Emancipation begins with laymen getting access to financial resources that will give the oppressed the hope for quality education, drinking water, and a better life. CryptoNote is not about creating yet another digital currency. It is the mindset and concepts that represent the first small step to regain the power over ourselves in order to live peacefully and prosper.
Ring signatures: Untraceable payments
The ordinary digital signature (e.g. (EC)DSA, Schnorr, etc...) verification process involves the public key of the signer. It is a necessary condition, because the signature actually proves that the author possesses the corresponding secret key. But it is not always a sufficient condition.
Ring signature  is a more sophisticated scheme, which in fact may demand several different public keys for verification. In the case of ring signature, we have a group of individuals, each with their own secret and public key. The statement proved by ring signatures is that the signer of a given message is a member of the group. The main distinction with the ordinary digital signature schemes is that the signer needs a single secret key, but a verifier cannot establish the exact identity of the signer. Therefore, if you encounter a ring signature with the public keys of Alice, Bob and Carol, you can only claim that one of these individuals was the signer but you will not be able to pinpoint him or her.
This concept can be used to make digital transactions sent to the network untraceable by using the public keys of other members in the ring signature one will apply to the transaction. This approach proves that the creator of the transaction is eligible to spend the amount specified in the transaction but his identity will be indistinguishable from the users whose public keys he used in his ring signatures.
It should be noted that foreign transactions do not restrict you from spending your own money. Your public key may appear in dozens of others' ring signatures but only as a muddling factor (even if you already used the corresponding secret key for signing your own transaction). Moreover, if two users create ring signatures with the same set of public keys, the signatures will be different (unless they use the same private key).
 Ronald L. Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Yael Tauman. How to leak a secret. In ASIACRYPT, pages 552–565, 2001