A research paper from the University of South Australia suggests blockchain technology needs to be refined so it can better protect privacy.
- Described in a university blog post on Thursday, the research findings show the very features that make blockchain secure are also problematic for personal privacy, particularly under European standards.
- The work was conducted by emerging technologies researcher Dr. Kirsten Wahlstrom in collaboration with Dr. Anwaar Ulhaq and Prof. Oliver Burmeister of Charles Sturt University, also in Australia.
- The team found emerging technologies such as blockchain and the internet of things possess the potential to compromise peoples privacy in the way they immutable store data.
- That's because blockchains use details of previous transactions, including data that can be used to identify participants, to verify future transactions.
- Once someones details are embedded in a blockchain, the system never forgets," Wahlstrom said. "Yes, those details might be encrypted, but they are also part of an irreversible ledger, and one thats on the cloud."
- The paper references recent legal developments in the EU meaning citizens possess the right to be forgotten in relation to their digital identities.
- So, as long as a blockchain exists, it conflicts with the European ruling that people have the right to retract their data, Wahlstrom said.
- In August, digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation raised similar concerns over a proposed California law allowing medical records to be stored on a blockchain.
- Standards needed to be cemented now in order develop a clear distinction on what privacy is, what governments and organizations are trying to protect and why, Wahlstrom noted.
- "The main problem is, were still struggling to understand what 'privacy' actually means ...