Permission vs Permissionless blockchains

Someone once said that in life, it is often better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Sometimes that isn’t true, but the good news is blockchain has you covered either way.

In addition to being identified as either public, private, or federated, blockchains can be further distinguished by being considered either permissioned or permission-less. What exactly are the differences between the two? This blog explains that difference between permissioned and permission-less, and much more.

Permission-less blockchains

Most of the mainstream cryptocurrencies you’ve heard of such as Bitcoin and Ethereum run on permission-less blockchains. In this type of blockchain, you don’t need to ask some sort of overseer to approve your transaction. You can create an address and interact with the server no matter who you are. Permission-less blockchains are designed to be byzantine fault tolerant which means that the system can still run even if one of the nodes becomes adversarial.

Another example of a permission-less system is the world wide web. As long as you have access to the internet, you can create a website. Permission-less systems stand in stark contrast to permissioned systems, in which you need the system operator’s permission to interact with it.

Permissioned Blockchains

For permissioned blockchains, the role of each user is very well-defined. These blockchains are not open to the public, and they are heavily monitored. Permissioned blockchains are most often built to be used internally with an established set of rules for the transactions, which is why the roles need to be so well-developed. The types of transactions that take place on a permissioned blockchain will vary by organisation.

Permissioned blockchains are arguably the best way to share sensitive data through an ultra-secure mechanism.

What’s the difference?

The major difference between permissioned and permission-less blockchain mostly rests on who can access the blockchain. Permissioned blockchains, as implied by etymology, requires access approval prior to interaction with the blockchain whereas permission-less blockchains can be accessed by anyone.

To conclude

I feel Permissioned blockchains deprive this technology from its true essence, which is to have an open system. When you restrict entry for somebody it is no different than a fancy name for a database.

Everything? Everything.