Blockchain: New Internet Governance challenges – TWIGF 2018 – Alvin Ho

Taiwan Internet Governance Forum (TWIGF) was held from 13-14 July 2018 at the Telecommunication Training Institute of Chunghwa Telecom in Banqiao. Out of 16 workshop sessions in total, there were 2 issues about blockchain. It represents the growing interest in blockchain as a vital technology. We use blockchain because of its immutability and its decentralisation, but it also comes with new Internet Governance challenges.

On 25 May, a highly restrictive General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented by European Union to protect privacy. It ensures that people have the Right of Access, Right to Be Forgotten and Right to Data Portability. If an enterprise collects user data, the usage of data must be specified. Also, users have the right to delete and stop the use of their data. Users also have the right to decide whether data is shared or not. The GDPR has become a stumbling block in the development of blockchain.

Data stored in blockchain is appended and is not controlled by any centralised data centre or controller. As a result, people cannot enact their Right to Be Forgotten to erase data stored in a blockchain. After some discussion, guests in the forum agreed that the starting point should be to try to avoid uploading Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to blockchains. I admire the attitude here at Taiwan, they do not see GDPR as a crisis for blockchain but more like a traffic light at a crossroads to direct blockchain in the right direction.

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About the writer

Alvin Ho, NetMission Ambassador of Class 2017/2018,

Year 3, Information Technology for Business, CityU SCOPE