Decentralized Technology Can Help Protect Democracy Around The Globe

Recent political developments in the United States demonstrate the critical challenges that centralized technology platforms pose to democracy — in stark contrast to the powerful role social media played in pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and Hong Kong. U.S. election misinformation and disinformation, as well as white nationalism, spread throughout online groups, and prominent political and social leaders found means to amplify falsehoods through technology platforms. 

Within both the public eye and darker corners of the internet, organizers, including members of the Proud Boys, planned the storming of the U.S. Capitol to stop what they believed to be a rigged election. The U.S. events, however, are not isolated. They fit into a broader pattern of centralized social media platforms being used to promote violence, disinformation and insurrection as evidenced in places such as Myanmar and the Philippines.

A byproduct of these events, among others, has been heightened fear that more private decentralized and peer-to-peer, or P2P, technology will offer a new and more powerful tool for domestic terrorists. While these concerns are not unfounded, privacy-focused decentralized and P2P applications can, in fact, protect democratic governance and help us move away from centralized platforms. The key reason is that unlike centralized platforms, they are not in the business of creating echo chambers — targeting users with specific content that suits their interests and potentially amplifying harmful content in order to increase user engagement. This gives us a better way to manage social technology’s impact on public safety, similar to how we’ve previously governed more traditional forms of interaction such as speech, telephone calls and mail.

Centralized platforms

On one hand, the biggest digital media tech companies espouse free speech, but on the other hand, their business model is predicated upon collecting data, creating behavioral profiles and targeting specific content to specific audiences. In the best light, this technical underpinning serves to surface content and services that an individual user would want to see or consume. But more importantly, and of concern to democracy, centralized platforms deliberately seek to get users hooked on the platform through algorithms designed to mass-direct content targeted toward specific audiences. This model allowed Russian intelligence operations to undermine the 2016 U.S. elections through centralized social media platforms, and Islamic terrorist organizations to radicalize and indoctrinate people through YouTube.

Related: Social media giants must decentralize the internet… Now!

After facing public backlash following the Capitol insurrection, the biggest U.S. social media companies stepped in to permanently or indefinitely ban former President Donald Trump’s and others’ accounts. Some have hailed this as a much-needed, minimal show of accountability, especially given how lenient tech companies have been in regard to white supremacy.

I agree that our biggest tech companies did what was needed to protect democracy, albeit in a much-delayed, inconsistent manner. The same calls for regulating social media content, however, are also stoking fears of private and decentralized tech as a new dangerous bogeyman, despite the fact that their business models and technical underpinnings are substantially different.

The case for privacy-focused decentralized and peer-to-peer technology

The key concern of private decentralized and P2P technology is that influential and controversial people who are being regulated on centralized technology platforms will have access to well-designed alternatives with little to no oversight. And this fear is not entirely unwarranted. Telegram, for example, has been found to be a haven for illegal activity and a source of misinformation and hate speech, leading to riots and lynchings in countries such as India. Privacy-focused technology always faces the trade-off between protecting user privacy and ensuring broader public safety and security. The key question, however, is whether democracy and public safety are actually at greater risk if those harmful influencers turn to more novel and private applications.

Privacy-focused decentralized technology solutions offer a better alternative to centralized platforms because their incentives are different. First, designers of privacy-focused applications will find it more difficult to curate content, given the fact that they are collecting little to no data. Second, a P2P design makes it more difficult for users to widely circulate content. This is not to say that decentralized systems entirely prevent users from quickly sending information to many people (e.g., LimeWire), but rather that the outreach is more limited and focused. Furthermore, outreach can be reduced through technical changes, such as limiting group sizes or the ability to forward content.

Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Digital Platforms & Democracy Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, wrote that regulatory change is sorely needed to “institute the right incentives for companies to act in the public interest without forcing the government to get directly involved in the decision-making process over which kinds of content should be deemed socially unacceptable and as such taken down by the companies.”

While privacy-focused decentralized technology has been historically framed as the means to avoid oversight by Big Brother, it can also fit a broader movement to bolster new regulations, such as changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Specifically, private decentralized and P2P technology gives us the ability to turn away from technology platforms designed to surveil, categorize, curate and amplify. The surge in Signal downloads in response to WhatsApp policy changes, for example, demonstrates the growing demand for more private alternatives. Regulation is needed to limit the roles of centralized tech platforms, but it cannot work alone. We need technology to bolster this effort in order and help us realize new technical designs that do not endanger democracy.

Centralized platforms are here to stay. Decentralized and P2P platforms are unlikely to completely replace centralized platforms. To combat extremism, content moderation and regulation will be needed to ensure that centralized platforms live up to the ideals of the internet. An effective way to prevent misinformation or disinformation from spreading out among the public commons is the ability for moderators to quickly disprove and/or block this content in the event it incites violence.

A graver concern around decentralized and P2P platforms is that misinformation and disinformation can continue to spread without the ability for a central body to step in. This is an undeniable challenge. The risk to democracy, however, is dampened by the fact that there is less scope for mass-sharing through P2P and decentralized systems. Research shows that disinformation and misinformation thrive off scale. Removing the targeted outreach and amplification of content can prevent harmful content from proliferating.

Conclusion

American democracy was not undermined and lynchings in India did not happen simply because people communicated misinformation and disinformation through internet technology. This type of information has been circulating well before the creation of the internet, stemming from historical cultural divisions, racism and government failures — see documentation of racial terror in America between the Reconstruction and World War II as an example.

When it comes to the role of technology, we must define the real danger to democracy: centralized technology platforms that enable people to communicate harmful and violent content to a wide audience, and that are based on a business model that directs billions of dollars to magnify content through targeted curation.

Private decentralized or P2P technology poses undeniable dangers, just as the telephone, letters and word-of-mouth. But the beneficial differences between this technology and centralized platforms can be best summarized by the following example: It is illegal for someone to yell “fire” in a theater if there isn’t one, but it is not illegal for that person to falsely tell their neighbor that there is a fire. Private decentralized and P2P applications will be used for illegal activity. But stopping this illegal activity cannot involve infringing on privacy or stopping communication. Instead, we will need to address the underlying causes of these activities.

The Proud Boys storming the U.S. Capitol stems from a history of white supremacy and racial injustice. Violence against Rohingya minorities in Myanmar dates back to the 1950s and a legacy of colonialism. Looking at more privacy-focused technology as the new danger misses the point. Instead of creating a tech bogeyman, we need to address the root causes of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech. And in the meantime, we must regulate our existing platforms and promote alternatives that do not in and of themselves undermine democratic norms.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Nikhil Raghuveera is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center and a project manager at the Equal Justice Initiative. His research focuses on the intersection of technology, social inequality and systems of oppression. Nikhil graduated with an MBA/MPA from the Wharton School and the Harvard Kennedy School. In graduate school, he focused his studies on racial justice, social movements and technology policy.

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Blockchain & Biometrics: The Future of Identity

Blockchain

In the future, biometric technology will be widely used for identity management. Biometric authentication has been closely linked to the concept of identity, as certain biometrics can identify you among a certain set of users (as employees or citizens). In this case, identity is the way you “assert” rights, membership, and ownership of property or data.

Hitachi from Technology Media Telecom demonstrated biometric blockchain authentication through Ledger Insights 2 years ago. The retailers included include the telecommunications company KDDI’au SHINJUKU’s flagship store and the branch of Mr. Donuts.

The demonstration is just an employee pilot and uses the KDDI coupon system. Biometric users first register and use their fingerprints for identification. It uses Hitachi’s own biometric infrastructure (PBI).

Hitachi does not store biometric data. Instead, it uses fingerprints to create digital signatures through public-key cryptography. Signature creation is a one-way conversion with fluctuations, so it can not be repeated.

Therefore, if the identity is recreated, the variations will be slightly different, creating a different signature. How it works when a user receives coupons, will be linked to the person’s identity.

The user does not have to show the coupon but puts his finger on the dealer’s identity verification gadget. You can use coupons without using a smartphone. This allows users to use coupons faster and retailers to use them more efficiently.

Coupon usage data is stored in the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain, which can reduce reconciliation costs. This also makes it very difficult to manipulate coupons.

Each participant in the blockchain will host a node and therefore a copy of the shared information. Biometric coupon Hitachi Hyperledger fabric recognition KDDI test to ensure the car meets legal requirements Japan’s SBI participated in the digitization of the blockchain project: Digital “Premium Coupon” project for low-income families

But where will the declaration of identity be? Today, the government issues identity statements in the form of documents that are difficult to falsify, including birth certificates, driving licenses, and passports.

About a dozen companies are actively involved in identity solutions, and these agencies are independent of all central authorities, such as authorities or representatives of companies or entities. All of these solutions include identity declarations available in the blockchain to achieve decentralization, enforceable contracts, secure encryption, and consensus.

Individuals and organizations working with arXivLabs have accepted and accepted our values of openness, community, excellence, and user data. arXiv is committed to these values and only collaborates with partners who follow these values.

 

 

 

 

Reference

Blockchain & Biometrics: The Future of Identity 
Hitachi demos biometric blockchain authentication
Portable Trust: biometric

The 3 Pillars Of The Bitcoin Blockchain technology behind Bitcoin

Blockchain technology supports the Bitcoin network. It is extremely secure and now many organizations across the world are seriously looking at it for not just financial transactions but for their supply chain processes as well. In this article, we will discuss the 3 pillars of the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin.

The Decentralization Pillar

Before the invention of blockchain, most transactions over the Internet involved a central server. This server stored all of the essential data that supported the service that is provided. A good example of this is the banking system. Your bank stores your money and when you need to pay someone you have to use them and they charge you for this.
Client-server technology is everywhere online. When you use a search engine to find something your query ends up on a central server that dispatches the information that you asked for. The problem with client-server is that there are a number of vulnerabilities:

The biggest and most obvious of these is that everything is stored in one place. This makes a central server a real target for hackers. If there any operational issues with a central server the whole system grinds to a halt. The data held on a central server can be compromised which shuts down the whole operation. The solution to these centralized vulnerabilities is decentralization. With a decentralized network, all computers have the same information stored. If you want to interact with someone else on a decentralized network you can do this without any third-party intervention. You can send and receive Bitcoins without the use of a bank and a centralized server.

The Transparency Pillar

A lot of people do not fully understand the concept of transparency when it comes to blockchain technology. Isn’t the Bitcoin network supposed to be private? Yes, it is but it is also public for verification purposes.
You need to understand the concept of public and private keys here. A public key is used on the blockchain to show that you have made a transaction. Your private key is never shared. It is linked to your public key to make the transaction valid.

With the Bitcoin blockchain, you can see the public keys associated with all transactions. No other financial system has ever had this kind of transparency. There is a much-needed level of accountability with blockchain that financial institutions certainly want. When you have a blockchain public address you can view all of the transactions made using that key. A lot of financial institutions are looking at blockchain because of this but some are concerned that it will force their hand to reveal all of their transactions!

The Immutability Pillar

Blockchain technology creates immutable records. This means that after verifying a transaction you cannot change it. Once your transaction is added to the blockchain there is no turning back. You cannot reverse the transaction.
The immutability in blockchain comes from the cryptographic hash functionality. The blockchain system takes input strings of any length and converts these to an output string of a fixed length. The Bitcoin blockchain uses the highly secure SHA 256 algorithm. Blockchain is basically a linked list of transactions. Each block has a hash pointer connecting it to the previous block. If a hacker tries to change the details of a block it will affect the entire blockchain which is impossible to do.

Should I Be Worried About 5G And COVID-19?

Videon description

There are theories going around that 5g is harmful and it’s even caused the corona virus pandemic and that resulted in some pretty shocking acts including people setting 5g maths on fire. So why are people worried enough that they’re willing to take such extreme action? 5g is the fifth generation of mobile broadband and the real difference between 5g and 4G and 3G is with 5g you can download an upload data way more quickly so the two main theories floating around are that the symptoms of coded 19 are caused by radiation from 5g phone masts and the radiation from these 5g phone masts of weakening people’s immune systems. That people are more vulnerable to coronavirus but don’t worry 5g doesn’t cause harmful levels of radiation see harmful radiation only happens when… Watch the video for more.

5G technology