Australian University Finds Privacy Issues With Blockchain Technology

Thursday 10 September 2020, 7:57 PM AEST - 1 week ago

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 ...

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