Strasbourg, 4th October 2018 — The EU Parliament have this week passed resolution Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains: building trust with disintermediation
Spearheaded by Greek MEP Eva Kaili, a major motivation for introducing the resolution is to empower and protect EU citizens and startups in respect to centralised banking, data protection including the ‘right to be forgotten’ and to serve as non-imposing and transparent rules under which a blockchain industry can flourish. An example of a need for more efficiency, according to Ms. Kaili, is the banking sector which imposes 135 billion euro in hidden fee’s per annum in the EU alone.
The resolution makes the following recommendations:
- For member States to establish non-profit “innovation hubs” to promote research, education and training among their citizens
- The introduction of blockchain courses and curricula among universities
- For the Commission and ECB to identify dangers for the public and incorporate cryptocurrencies into the European payment system.
- To develop technical standards for Distributed Ledger Technologies
- Conduct a clear analysis of legal enforceability of smart contracts among EU member States
- Decentralise the storage of EU citizens’ data in preventing the misuse of data
- Decentralise infrastructure to ensure no monopolies are held, for instance the storage of nodes and servers
- Use blockchain for tracking EU funding to achieve greater accountability
- Evaluate blockchain-based evoting systems as a use case for the EU
- The creation of funding opportunities from the EIB, EIF and EFSI 2.0
- The creation of an Observatory for the Monitoring of ICOs and clarification of utility tokens and security tokens as unique asses classes
- For any regulations on blockchain to remove barriers and founded on principles of technology neutral and business model-neutral
For the EU to achieve success with becoming a contender in the development of the global blockchain market, it must ensure a non-restricted passageway for initiatives. By calling on member States to actively protect the rights of citizens, the Parliament takes an affirmative position and leading role in adopting real use cases for blockchain technology. While these serve as recommendations and warrant more policy development before they become law in the EU, this resolution nonetheless shows the Parliament is willing to make bold moves to future proof the EU project.
Two concerns raised during the debates were around the ‘right to be forgotten’ and GDPR compliance in reference to public ledgers. The ‘right to be forgotten’ is protected under Article 17 GDPR which obligates the erasure of personal data at the request of any EU citizen. It is held that information on the chain can only go forwards and not backwards and therefore personal information could not be deleted.
However storing information on, say, the bitcoin public ledger using Proof of Work is limited to 180 bytes or so which shows, if anything, it is ineffective to store personal data on-chain. Even when stored on-chain data can be encrypted. Another alternative for verifying data without exposing it is to only store a reference to information using Proof of Existence. Another alternative again is to use privacy coins. EU citizens have options when interacting with blockchain and at least they should be educated in understanding what personal information they should put on-chain.
For the Parliament to recommend cryptocurrencies to be incorporated into European payment systems and protecting data resonates well with the Festy project. Not only should merchants use cryptocurrencies over the Euro, consumers should boycott Mastercard and Visa and take back control over their data. As a European company fighting the battle for data ownership, we commend the Parliament for adopting this resolution and respecting human rights.
You can read the text here
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