IPDB Caretakers Workshop 2017

Greg McMullen
Published in
4 min readOct 18, 2017


Window at ESMT, the venue for 9984 Summit and former seat of the GDR.

After two future-forward days at 9984 Summit in Berlin from October 5–6, 2017, representatives from IPDB’s caretaker community gathered on October 7 at the BigchainDB offices for the second annual IPDB Caretakers Workshop to discuss the future of IPDB.

Left to right: Kei Kreutler (unMonastery), Constance Choi (COALA & IPDB), Fabio Antonelli (CREATE-NET), Greg McMullen (IPDB), David Holtzman (IPDB).

Technical Roadmap

Trent McConaghy gave an IPDB-specific look at the direction BigchainDB is taking. This followed up on a 9984 talk by Tim Daubenschütz of BigchainDB, where he set out the current status of BigchainDB. Video of the talk is coming soon, but for now you can check out his earlier blog post and his interpretive dance below:

IPDB Roadmap in interpretive dance: Tim Daubenschütz at 9984

Test Network

The IPDB Test Network is now open to the public for signups. The Test Network launched in August, and as of October 17, 2017, over 825 developer accounts have been created.

The Test Network is run by BigchainDB. This is partly to simplify testing, but also because BigchainDB isn’t ready for decentralized deployments. The BigchainDB roadmap sets out a plan for changing this, and we hope to have IPDB caretakers running all the nodes in the network in Q2 2018.

Production Network

IPDB will be launching a Production Network soon, following the same rollout plan as the Test Network. First, it will host a single demo application, then invited users, and finally a public launch where anyone can sign up.

Token-based API

One of the weak links in the current implementation of the IPDB Test Network is its reliance on 3scale, which we are currently using to power our API. The BigchainDB team is developing a tokenized API that will allow us to replace that with a fully decentralized model run by the caretakers.

Caretakers Handbook

To make sure caretakers can handle the responsibility of running an IPDB node, a breakout group led by Kris Constable and Sébastien Couture started developing a Caretakers Handbook. It will provide information on setting up and operating a node, best practices for security, hardware requirements, and so on.

Kris Constable (Human Data Commons) and Sébastien Couture (Stratumn) with eBoy Berlin poster.

The Caretakers Handbook is still a work in progress. We’re not ready to share it yet, but we will be making it available for community review in the near future.

We will also be taking up Kei Kreutler’s suggestion of a “buddy system” for caretakers who don’t have the technical expertise required to run a node. Those caretakers can be paired with a more experienced caretaker who can help them set up and maintain their node, and meet the rigorous security requirements we’ll be putting in place.

Legal Work

We are working with Natalie Eichler and Florian Daniel of DWF Law to develop the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for IPDB. We are also working on one of the biggest legal challenges to blockchain technology in Europe—the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which will be coming into effect in May 2018.

The GDPR introduces sweeping changes in EU data protection and privacy law. It creates new obligations for anyone who collects, controls, or processes personal data. Personal data itself is given a very broad definition under the GDPR, and data subjects are given powerful new rights, such as the right to erasure, which is seemingly incompatible with immutable ledgers.

The approaches most blockchain projects have taken toward the GDPR range from anarchism to libertarianism to blissful ignorance. IPDB has decided to deal with the GDPR head on, and has worked hard to develop a set of compliant agreements between IPDB and its users and IPDB and its caretakers. We will be discussing this more in future blog posts — but for now a big thanks to Natalie and Florian for their work and patience in meeting this challenge.

Policy Work

Finally, we looked at some of the policy work IPDB has been doing over the past year, both independently and with other organizations.


Bundesblock founding meeting in Berlin.

IPDB became a founding member of Bundesblock, a lobby group formed to bring the views of the German blockchain community to the German government. Bundesblock issued a position paper to German politicians outlining the views of the German blockchain community and recommending specific actions that can be taken by the new government.

DIN Standardization

We have been active with DIN, the German standards body, in its efforts to create a set of blockchain definitions that will be moving forward toward ISO standardization. IPDB made significant contributions to the final document adopted by DIN. The definitions will be available soon.

Next steps

The next few months will be busy for IPDB. We’ll be launching the Production Network, getting ready to hand off control to the caretakers, and making sure we’re compliant with the GDPR… but we’ve still got time to listen to you! Try the Test Network and let us know what you think.