Much has been said about Blockchain and cryptocurrency, from the most optimistic views saying it represents the end of the middleman, to those who are more pessimistic and see the technology as a way to waste a lot of money (and electricity) on applications that could be much simpler and less costly.
Blockchain is more than a hype, though. It’s a technology that it seems to have the potential to change the way we understand trust, decentralization, and encryption.
But what is Blockchain?
First of all, to understand what Blockchain is, I suggest you to watch a (long but very didactic) video about the topic. It summarizes, in less than thirty minutes , the main features that make Blockchain a unique technology and the hot topic of the moment.
Technical texts about the subject are not lacking. For the happiness of the Portuguese speakers, many texts about Blockchain have been written in Portuguese. It is important to read, for example, the CPqD White Paper that provides an overview on the subject (the first of four Blockchain related papers published in 2017). In addition, some initiatives have been formed in Brazilian soil. Among them, the University of São Paulo’s Technology and Society Studies Group (NETS_USP), of which I am a member. In this group we spent a semester studying academically and critically the subject, the outcomes of our Blockchain related meetings are the texts produced and published in our Medium.
The immutability issue
For the purposes that this short article intends to approach, it is worth mentioning the concept of immutability of the transactions registered in the blockchain, by means of which only the insertion of a new block in the chain can change (in fact, declaring that the fact inscribed in block “Z” is invalid / being changed) a previous block. As the CPqD states:
“Any operation or transaction within a ledger is protected by encrypted digital signature, including to identify the issuer and receiver nodes of the transactions. When a node wants to add a new fact to the ledger, a consensus is needed between all or some previously determined nodes in the network to decide whether the fact can be recorded in the ledger or not. If there is a consensus, the fact will be written and it can never be erased, in theory, a process slightly similar to the deed of sale and registration of a property in Brazil. “
Challenges in the legal field and the right to be forgotten
One of the problems that still need to be addressed in the legal field concerns this immutability. The art. 7, item X of the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Law 12965/2014) determines that:
Art. 7o The access to the internet is essential to the exercise of citizenship, and the following rights are guaranteed to the users:
(…) X – the definitive elimination of the personal data provided to a certain internet application, at the request of the users, at the end of the relationship between the parties, except in the cases of mandatory log retention, as set forth in this Law;
How to exclude personal data from Blockchain if the facts that, after consensus, are inscribed and made immutable?
Having this question in mind is important in relation to cases, that have already happened in the real world. German researchers have found child pornography at Bitcoin’s Blockchain. In this case, it is essential to preserve the child’s privacy, to exclude the photo and to hold criminals accountable. But how to erase it?
New technologies bring new challenges. And one challenge has already been imposed to us, operators of the law, by the advent of Blockchain.
Finally, it is worth mentioning an initiative created by a woman to talk about Blockchain: @Disruptivas, a blog that contains relevant information about opening a wallet, buying bitcoins, and pertinent regulatory issues. You can also find the founder at Steemit, a social network that uses Blockchain to run. Curious, huh?
We for us, women!