Australian University Detects GDPR Conflict With Blockchain

Friday 11 September 2020, 12:00 PM AEST - 1 week ago

A recent finding by the University of South Australia casts doubt on the legality of blockchain transactions when met with European privacy standards.

According to the new research, blockchain can violate important European Union laws that are part of the well known GDPR agreement – due to the fact that blockchain stores all information about a buyer, or a seller.

Dr. Kirsten Wahlstrom, a researcher working in the field of cryptocurrency technology weighed in on the resurgence of blockchain technology, comparing it to the anonymous wild west the Internet was 20 years ago.

“We’re at a really delicate point with this because, increasingly, societies and economies are organised around data, and that has huge implications for privacy. The main problem is, we’re still struggling to understand what ‘privacy’ actually means in an online world. It’s not the same as data security and protection, it’s about how individuals control their whole online identity, and expectations around that change from person to person and situation to situation.”

Dr. Kirsten noted the fact that the definition of privacy is changing – and more so due to the mainstream adopting of blockchain, which makes it impossible for a blockchain contributor to hide their identity if previously revealed.

The European Union’s “Right To Be Forgotten” has been a relief for privacy buffs worldwide – yet Dr. Kirsten states that as long as the EU GDPR stays the way it is, blockchain technologies may not see widespread adoption within the EU. If information is permanently stored within a blockchain, EU laws would, at the moment, prevent the information necessary to catch a bad actor from being used in an international court case.

Dr. Kirsten is in favour of delving deep into the ethics regarding the privacy owed to each human being. Optimistic about the future of blockchain, she nevertheless admits it might take a while until the technology is properly regulated by all relevant bodies.