In May, the European Union will be introducing GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in a bid to update data protection laws and bring them in line with the modern world. This issue has been in the spotlight recently following the recent scandal involving Facebook. Both developments could have repercussions that will be felt in the crypto space.
Facebook has come under fire in the recent news after allegations that data collected from 50 million Facebook users were procured and misused by research company Cambridge Analytica and this has brought the debate over our data into the mainstream — who owns it? Where and how should it be used or shared, and what should companies be doing to protect their customers?
What is GDPR?
According to IT Governance, GDPR aims to give the individual more control over how their data is collected and processed and to make organizations accountable for data protection. Hefty fines will be imposed on those for failure to comply, fines that the authorities believe are large enough to ensure most companies will be encouraged to do so.
The regulations will apply to all 28 EU member states, and, despite Brexit, is likely to apply to the United Kingdom too as they probably won’t have left the EU by May. More widely, GDPR will ensure that all companies (regardless of origin) wishing to provide services and products in the EU will need to adhere to the same regulations. This would streamline how data laws are enforced throughout the region and create a standard which all companies and EU citizens would benefit from.
Privacy and the blockchain
Data protection is already a huge concern for most blockchain enthusiasts. The technology was envisioned with the idea of harnessing our natural mistrust of strangers and central authorities, thus the emphasis on anonymity.
The ability to trade with anonymity is still one of the most valued aspects of the technology and one factor in this is undoubted – that blockchain technology removes the need for the individual to part with their sensitive personal information, which banks and other authorities have lost it in the past. In this way, the crypto community appears to be ahead of the curve.
What could GDPR regulation mean for blockchain technology?
In the wake of GDPR, we could see a rise in the number of companies looking to the blockchain for solutions. It is an area some innovators are already exploring. Loomia, for example, is working on a way of decentralizing personal data by storing it on TILES and creating a network where users can store, share, or sell their data. More importantly, the network aims to give users the power to choose what data they part with and how much.
What other applications can blockchain have in the wake of GDPR?
As mentioned earlier, Facebook has come under fire for allegedly failing to protect its users’ personal information from misuse. Mark Zuckerberg has already stated that he is studying blockchain technology to see if it can improve Facebook. If he finds that it can, we should expect all social media providers,, existing and future to turn their attention toward the technology.
Nations like Estonia are also setting a precedent for other uses of the technology with their e-residency program and plans for digital identity and blockchain based governance. The fact that the underlying technology of blockchain has never been knowingly compromised, and that companies operating in the EU will need to protect any data they acquire in the wake of GDPR, could mean that one day we’ll see blockchain technology become the industry standard for securing it.
Michael is an English and Creative writing graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s University, a former editor of several magazines, and a crypto-currency enthusiast. He is mostly interested in crypto-legislation and the potential of decentralized technology to change the world.