Timely and widespread dissemination of resources and information related to pathogenic threats plays a critical role in outbreak recognition, research, containment, and mitigation (1, 2), as stakeholders from government, public health (PH), industry, and academia seek to implement interventions and develop vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs (3). But there are persistent barriers to sharing and cooperative research and development (R&D) in the context of epidemics, rooted in a lack of trust in confidentiality and reciprocity (4, 5), ambiguity over resource ownership (6), and conflicting public, private, and academic incentives (2–4, 6). Here, we suggest how recent advances in blockchain and related technologies can enable decentralized mechanisms to help break down these systemic and largely nontechnological barriers. These mechanisms resolve scalability, energy consumption, and security concerns of early blockchain models and may be applied to underpin and interconnect, rather than supersede or conflict with existing, well-established systems and practices for storing, sharing, and governing resources.
When Prince Harry posted a photograph of himself and his future wife Meghan Markle in Botswana, placing a satellite collar on an elephant to track it and protect it from poachers, the royal was demonstrating new ways of combating the illegal wildlife trade.The couple’s post sought to highlight that more than 100 African elephants a day are killed for their ivory. Now, the war against poaching has another potential weapon: artificial intelligence.AI is capable of analysing different kinds of data sets and spotting significant patterns. The results can be used for the wider public good, such as improving planning in healthcare and public transport — or fighting wildlife poachers.“Audio data can be used to train algorithms to distinguish gunshots [of] those poaching wild animals [from] the gunshots [of] hunters,” says Chris Martin, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons. Using big data, real-time alerts could be pinged to rangers to tell them which areas to focus on.Data trusts — which are separate legal entities designed to help organisations extract value from anonymised data without falling foul of privacy regulations — are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third parties.A pilot study on whether data trusts should be set up to share information to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was one of three initiatives by the Open Data Institute earlier this year (the ODI is a UK non-profit body that works with companies and governments “to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem”).The study looked at whether data trusts could hold photographs from camera traps and acoustic information from a range of sources, which could be used by algorithms to create real-time alerts on poachers in protected areas.There are, however, legal questions about how to share anonymised data from governments and companies in a safe, ethical way against a backdrop of public mistrust. In the biggest scandal to date, consultancy Cambridge Analytica illicitly harvested personal data from Facebook to influence elections. In July, the US Federal Trade Commission approved a $5bn fine for the social media platform for privacy violations. Data trusts are being mooted as a way to allay concerns about how sensitive data is held by third partiesIn Los Angeles, residents have expressed concerns about the use of personal data collected from electric scooters, which is intended to help urban planning.Companies and governments tread a fine line between extracting information from data and ensuring they do not break laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which forces any company holding personal data of an EU citizen to seek consent and delete the data on request. Individuals should not be identifiable from the data sets.These legal problems on privacy and governance were what law firm Pinsent Masons with BPE Solicitors had to contend with when advising the ODI on data trusts.The project to combat poaching looked at whether a data trust could improve the sharing of information and invoice data from researchers and governments, by monitoring documents given to border staff about species being transported across borders that can be falsified by smugglers. The data could be used to train algorithms to help border staff identify illegally traded animals.Mr Martin says setting up such a data trust could enable border officials to take photographs of a live animal and use software to check whether it is a species on which there are export restrictions.One advantage of a data trust is that it enables individuals to become trustees and have a say in how their anonymised data is used. It would allow citizens to be represented if the data trust held traffic information collected about their locality, for example.Data trusts might also encourage companies to put in data to enable them to work on projects where they have a common goal. “The big supermarkets could decide to set up a data trust to share data on, for example, tackling food waste or climate change,” Mr Martin says.Chris Reed, professor of electronic commerce at Queen Mary University of London, says data trusts are useful when multiple organisations put in data. “The sharing of data might have been subject to agreements between parties, but when you might have 100 companies putting in data you cannot have agreements covering them all. Having a data trust is a fair and safe way of doing this,” he says.Only a handful of data trusts exist. Credit card company Mastercard and IBM has formed an independent Dublin-based data trust called Truata. Connor Manning, a partner at law firm Arthur Cox, handled the corporate and trust structure documentation. He says that part of the legal complexity was designing the structure so that Mastercard was a beneficiary of the trust but the structure was not a standard company. “It is a corporate structure with a trust structure on top,” he explains.A data trust may not be the answer to every situation. Othe
A report has claimed that GDPR could hinder innovation in blockchain within Europe. If that is right, then this could be enough to ensure that the technology stars of tomorrow, the next Amazons or Googles, won’t be European. The report did hint at the opportunity, however. Blockchain could be as transformative for business as the internet, at least nine out of ten technology professionals think that, or so found a survey by BTL Group.
Summary of previous years, for those of you who are new to Bitnation:Year 1 – 2014-2015: Bitnation was launched on 14th of July 2014, and the first Whitepaper was published in October 2014. The first few months we focused on conducting various pilots, including the world’s first blockchain marriage, world citizenship ID, land title and birth certificate. By July 2015 we had released the first version of the Pangea Jurisdiction on the NXT testnet. We built a worldwide Ambassador Network consisting of +50 individuals organising meet ups and hangouts and hundreds of volunteer developers and technologists. Read detailed yearly summary for Year 1 on Medium.
Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship?, kickoff contribution by Liav Orgad
Citizenship in Cloud Cuckoo Land?, by Rainer Bauböck
Citizenship in the Era of Blockchain-Based Virtual Nations, by Primavera De Filippi
Global Citizenship for the Stay-at-Homes, by Francesca Strumia
A World Without Law; A World Without Politics, by Robert Post
Virtual Politics, Real Guns: On Cloud Community, Violence, and Human Rights, by Michael Blake
A World Wide Web of Citizenship, by Peter J. Spiro
Citizenship Forecast: Partly Cloudy with Chances of Algorithms, by Costica Dumbrava
The Separation of Territory and State: a Digital French Revolution?, by Yussef Al Tamimi
A Brave New Dawn? Digital Cakes, Cloudy Governance and Citizenship á la carte, by Jelena Dzankic
Old Divides, New Devices: Global Citizenship for Only Half of the World, by Lea Ypi
Escapist technology in the service of neo-feudalism, by Dimitry Kochenov
Cloud communities and the materiality of the digital, by Stefania Milan
Cloud Agoras: When Blockchain Technology Meets Arendt’s Virtual Public Spaces, by Dora Kostakopoulou
Global Cryptodemocracy is Possible and Desirable, by Ehud Shapiro
The Future of Citizenship: Global and Digital. A Rejoinder, by Liav Orgad
This paper examines data protection on blockchains and other forms of distributed ledger technology (‘DLT’). Transactional data stored on a blockchain, whether in plain text, encrypted form or after having undergone a hashing process, constitutes personal data for the purposes of the GDPR. Public keys equally qualify as personal data as a matter of EU data protection law. We examine the consequences flowing from that state of affairs and suggest that in interpreting the GDPR with respect to blockchains, fundamental rights protection and the promotion of innovation, two normative objectives of the European legal order, must be reconciled. This is even more so given that, where designed appropriately, distributed ledgers have the potential to further the GDPR’s objective of data sovereignty.