Could Blockchain Have Avoided Cambridge Analytica?

Could blockchain have avoided Facebook’s data breach scandal around Cambridge Analytica? No. Or at least nothing that is common in blockchain applications today would have.

I just heard the ICO Alert podcast where it was stated that the breach could have been avoided, as blockchain solved the double spending problem. Yes one of blockchain’s biggest achievements is that it solved the double spending problem. But copying a file and sending it to someone else is not a double spending problem!

What is double spending?

What is double spending? If you want to have a digital way to have the ownership of an asset (that could be a real asset or a currency), you get into the problem that anything digital you can copy. If 1$ would be represented by a string, for example ‘dollar138543’, I could use this dollar as many times as I want. Blockchain solves this problem by being a database that everybody can consult to verify that I’m the owner of ‘dollar138543’ and when I have spent it it will not show me as owner of the dollar any more. This does not mean that I could have written ‘dollar138543’ in thousands of places. It only means that the community will not recognize me as the owner.

DRM can be used for copy protection

As you see the double spending problem is solved by the blockchain being a public database that assign ownership. Not a system to limit how digital files can be copied. I could register on the blockchain that I’m the authorized owner of the data but this will not prevent me to legally or illegally copy the data and send it to someone else. For this you need copy protection technology, not blockchain. For this Digital Right Managment (DRM) technologies have been developed and are now widely used in the movie and music industry. Given the billions at stake there, if blockchain would have provided a good method for copy protection, why would the big movie studios not already use blockchain?

Could Facebook have used DRM?

Why has then Facebook not used DRM or something similar? Because the actual reason for which Facebook has an api is for developer to access the data in machine readable form so that they can do their computations on it and provide the services to their users.

Blockchain is no panacea

Blockchain can be used to asses the ownership of an asset, and thus to work together with a copy protection system, but it is not a copy protection system in itself. Blockchain is a set of amazing technologies, and I believe we will have successful applications in many fields beside as currency, but we should stop thinking that by putting everything indiscriminately on the blockchain we will have improved the world. Blockchain is not the panacea for everything!

Did you enjoyed this post?  Sign up to our Newsletter to get regular insights around blockchain,  cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

Ps. What about distributed file storage like Filecoin? Like if is names it is file storage not copy protection. Filecoin is a currency that rewards users for storing other users files, not for protection a user to make a copy of the file.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *