Validation rules for blockchain research – the third report in our Blockchain&Society Research Nodes series is out!

In December 2018, we organised a two-day workshop dedicated to blockchain scholarly research. The workshop brought together teams from four different projects: the Blockchain&Society Policy Research Lab from Amsterdam, P2P Models from Madrid, MoneyLab from Amsterdam, and Weizenbaum Institute’s Trust in Distributed Environments research group from Berlin. The workshop’s overall goal was to incite interactions between the projects, to explore common research possibilities intersecting between distinct projects, and to provide a breeding ground for discussions on each project’s research focus. These are the highlights:

  • (Dis)trust in institutions and the abolishment of intermediaries present issues of particular legal, governance and technological interest; knowledge transfer for interdisciplinary scholarly research in these topics is necessary.
  • Decentralized technological infrastructure and cryptocurrencies could be used in the context of commons-based communities. The preconditions, effects, and implications of this model require further attention and empirical research.
  • Translating legal norms into code and creating autonomous governance systems on-chain is a particular research challenge; it is related not solely to smart contract regulation but also to decentralized platforms with potential to create enforceable agreements.

Read the full report here.

Blockchain technology and the GDPR: the beginning of a beautiful privacy whac-a-mole?

On the first day of the CPDP2019 at 10:30 we’ll have a fantastic panel on blockchain technology and GDPR.

https://www.cpdpconferences.org/cpdp-panels/blockchain-technology-and-the-gdpr-the-beginning-of-a-beautiful-privacy-whac-a-mole

• What are the main points of friction between blockchains and the GDPR?
• What are the technological privacy enhancing mechanisms that could apply?
• What are the appropriate and necessary conciliations for the creation of privacy-preserving blockchains in accordance with data protection regulation?
• Is there a market for non-compliance that blockchain technologies are best suited to serve?

The speakers include: Michèle Finck, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition (DE); David Ciliberti, DG JUST (EU); Alexandra Giannopoulou, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Institute for Information Law, UvA (NL); George Danezis, UCL (UK); and Konstantinos Stylianou,
University of Leeds (UK). The panel will be moderated by Mireille Hildebrandt, VUB-LSTS (BE), and chaired by Balazs Bodo.

ABSTRACT: Individual user control of data has become a central issue in the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), creating a more demanding data protection framework for involved actors, all while coming in conflict with fundamental characteristics of blockchains. Thus, the difficulty lies in designing a system without compromising core values of both privacy regulation on the one hand and blockchain technology on the other. Given the right incentives there is no doubt GDPR compliant distributed ledgers can, and will be designed. The real question is what happens if there is persistent market/social/political interest in those blockchain implementations which do not care for, or are unable to achieve GDPR compliance. Considering the interdisciplinary nature of the main question, the proposed panel consists of invited experts selected to cover various privacy-related fields including law and computer science.

• What are the main points of friction between blockchains and the GDPR?
• What are the technological privacy enhancing mechanisms that could apply?
• What are the appropriate and necessary conciliations for the creation of privacy-preserving blockchains in accordance with data protection regulation?
• Is there a market for non-compliance that blockchain technologies are best suited to serve?

Controlling your data: the competing visions of blockchains and GDPR.

October 5, 2018 – 12:00 pm @ Spui25

The Blockchain&Society Policy Research Lab organised a workshop entitled:

Controlling your data: the competing visions of blockchains and GDPR.

Half of the speakers and the audience were women, Yay!

The workshop brought together legal and technical experts to discuss the concept of decentralisation and how the goals and rules of data protection can be accommodated in the context of blockchain technologies.

The event was part of the Amsterdam Privacy Conference.

Eliza Mik: What is blocking blockchains? A common sense, legal evaluation

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) cordially invites you to the next

Blockchain&Society Policy Research Lab Lunchtime talk

Eliza Mik: What is blocking blockchains?
A common sense, legal evaluation

Despite dozens of pilot projects and an incessant buzz surrounding blockchain technologies, actual mainstream implementations are few – unless we limit the discussion to crypto-currencies and fundraising platforms. One of the reasons is a lack of general understanding of the technologies in question or, more specifically, of their actual practical capabilities. At a basic level, blockchains are nothing but databases – and to state that a database in itself will revolutionize commerce and reform society seems unfounded, if not outright ridiculous. The lack of understanding of certain technical characteristics of blockchains hinders their evolution and adaptation to commercial needs. The problem is particularly prominent in permissionless (aka public) blockchains, where technological misconceptions merge with a strong ideological bias: certain features, such as trustlessness and decentralization, are regarded as absolute values that require preservation – even if such preservation runs counter to the basic needs of the commercial market place.    Another reason might lie in the indiscriminate and uninformed use of certain terms, such as validation, smart contracts or transaction, without understanding their actual, technical meaning and implications. It is, after all, impossible to “transplant” legal or technical nomenclature from its original context into another and expect it to have the same meaning and/or effect. The problem is particularly prominent when it comes to smart contracts, which are often touted as the ultimate technological tool guaranteeing legal certainty. Such claims are, however, completely unfounded. On one hand then, the commercial use of blockchains is hindered by a lack of awareness of what they can or cannot do. On the other, the development of a solid theoretical approach is prevented by a lack of standardized terminology. In effect, when talking about blockchains – we often don’t know what we talk about.

Eliza Mik teaches contract law and the law of e-commerce at the Singapore Management University. In parallel with a line of research focused on distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, she is involved in multiple projects relating to the legal implications of automation, the deployment of ‘intelligent agents’ in retail environments as well as the transactional imbalances created by the use of consumer-facing technologies, such as predictive analytics and AI. Before joining academia, she has worked in-house in a number of software companies, Internet start-ups and telecommunication providers in Australia, Poland, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Eliza advised on e-commerce, payment systems, software licensing and technology procurement.

https://law.smu.edu.sg/faculty/profile/56155/Eliza-MIK

Date and Location: 12.30, Friday, 28th of September, 2018, Room REC A7.23

PLEASE RSVP here.

Trust in decentralized data infrastructures – the second report in our Blockchain&Society Research Nodes series is out!

In May, 2018 we organized a high level expert meeting on the topic of Trust in decentralized data infrastructures. We  discussed the role of markets, the government, laws, and society in governing trust on blockchain tech. These are the highlights:

  • Contrary to the dominant discourse blockchain technologies are not trustless. In fact trust is a major, unresolved challenge related to the technology.
  • Practical applications that are able to prove the worth of decentralized datasets are yet to emerge
  • Extensive interdisciplinary education programs are necessary to facilitate the knowledge transfer among different societal domains, and to unlock the full potential of this technological innovation
  • Blockchain policies should ensure that the technology does not interfere with justice and democracy, and should actively balance economic interests with fundamental rights
  • The development of blockchain governance frameworks is probably the most important challenge in the short to mid-term.
  • There is a potential of, and a need for multidisciplinary collaborations inside UvA, and with other partners in the Amsterdam region of these topics.

Read the full report here.

The Lab will represent European science at the upcoming meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The European Research Council selected three cutting edge ERC funded projects to represent Europe at the upcoming AAAS meeting on  “Science transcending boundaries“. We are extremely proud to be one of these project in Washington DC next February, together with  Phil Howard‘s computational propaganda research, and  Aude Billard‘s  Human and Robot skill acquisition project.

 

 

Blockchain&Society Research Nodes #1: blockchain technologies and GDPR

We are proud to announce the Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab’s research notes series: the Blockchain&Society Research Nodes!

The inaugural issue is about the intersection of EU data protection regulation and blockchain technologies, based on the “GDPR, data policy and compliance” workshop organized by the EU Blockchain Observatory in June 2018.

Download the report here.

Read file

Apply a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship to the Lab, with IViR as a host organisation!

We invite interested candidates to submit an initial research and collaboration idea that could be jointly developed into an application under the MSCA European individual fellowships call. We welcome expressions of interest of candidates from legal studies and other disciplines, who want to conduct inter- and multidisciplinary research informed by information law, e.g. social sciences, in particular economics, digital humanities, computer, network and data science, on topics such as:Personalization of online media and servicesAlgorithmic governanceBlockchain law, technology and policyPsychology of ownership in digital goodsInformation security and surveillance (international aspects, oversight and accountability)Artificial intelligence and information lawRoles, responsibilities and liability of internet intermediariesInternational trade and investment in information goods and servicesOnline platforms and competition lawTrade secrets and information lawAccess and ownership of data

Source: Applying for the call for Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions with IViR as a host organisation – IVIR