What is an obfuscation key?

This message appears in my debug.log:

2017-01-21 00:16:42 Opened LevelDB successfully
2017-01-21 00:16:42 Using obfuscation key for /home/<username>/.bitcoin/blocks/index: 0000000000000000

As does this:

2017-01-21 00:16:42 Opened LevelDB successfully
2017-01-21 00:16:42 Using obfuscation key for /home/<username>/.bitcoin/chainstate: <removed>

What is an obfuscation key used for?

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