The future data economy is human-centric and decentralized
The vision to build what is needed to enable a fairer data economy while allowing for increased privacy was one of the motivations for initiating Datafund as a project in 2017.
To achieve this means empowering the individuals with greater control over their data and letting them control how their data is distributed and used, taking fair part in the added value their data generates. However, it is not only about individuals — businesses (and other organisations for that matter) must adopt a new paradigm — the person should “own” their data, with a business using it, curating it, holding it safe. It should be handled with respect, as it is an extension of the person — their digital twin.
Although Datafund is about the technical aspect of this journey — developing applications & tech enabling it, other facets are just as important. It could be described as a BLTS sandwich — a mixture of business, legal, tech and societal elements. To cover these other aspects, we are cooperating with several initiatives.
Fair Data Society principles cover the ethical perspective needed for the fair data economy to emerge. Under Fair Data Society, the technical building blocks needed for the economy to emerge are being offered open source, for the community to use. Following its principles all along, Datafund has heavily contributed to the Fair data society, among other things by open sourcing the code for Fairdrop app.
The crucial building block for any personal data transfer in the EU space is consent from the person to allow for the data to be used. Sitra’s IHAN project is tackling the tech as well as the legal side of bootstrapping a fair data economy. As part of the IHAN European data economy testbed, the open source Consent Receipt Suite (CRS) was developed. Consent receipts can be likened to the receipt you get in a grocery store, with the difference they are for the data you agree to share. The CRS consists of several modules, that can be used independently to generate, view and store Kantara compliant consent receipts. The option to store the receipts in Swarm peer-to-peer decentralized cloud allows for both parties to have shared access and a single source of truth for their relationship.
Datafund was among the first to receive the award of a MyData operator with the Fairdrop application for private file exchange and storage, based on Swarm peer-to-peer cloud as the backend. To achieve this award, a human-centric approach to personal data had to be demonstrated and a proper focus on the elements that the ecosystem of person empowering applications needs to thrive — the future we are striving for.
As part of the Blockchers program, we are extending Fairdrop and underlying open source libraries to make Datalog — an app allowing for communication and exchange of files in a secure and traceable manner. With the revocation of access, the solution will be appropriate for a kind of digital safe data room, which our partner law firm has identified as needed in the current times.
All of this can be connected to the strategic direction the EU is taking with European data spaces, which will allow for a free flow of data inside the European Union. These would establish a critical mass of data needed for the EU economy to emerge as the leader in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, which is touted as one of the (re)volutions on the horizon.
For the personal data space, as well as others, the Swarm peer-to-peer decentralized cloud will play a crucial role. It is self-sovereign, which in a nutshell means that the holder of the private key can control the storage (& communication). The peers providing the storage and bandwidth are compensated for their services, making the network sustainable. The idea of having an ultimately scalable Personal Data Store on the cloud without setting up any infrastructure has become a reality, making new use cases possible. The Fair Data Society FairOS initiative has already developed the option to make personal “pods” — a sort of logical volumes on top of Swarm.
We believe the future is in people having control over their data and the way to enable it best is decentralization. The idea is not new, projects such as Solid and Personium have a long track record. But, with the decentralized technologies now becoming available, truly self-sovereign solutions can emerge — based on decentralized apps hosted on the decentralized cloud, a person will have the toolset needed. What we have to do together as the community developing the technology to make it easy to use and available to all.
Črt Ahlin, COO, Datafund
Alastria Blockchain Ecosystem as a partner of the Blockchers Consortium offers the use of its Blockchain network and its programme Link2Chain by way of which it fosters the development of Blockchain startups by disseminating the use cases and finding the link to investors and potential clients.