Researchers at the IViR Sovereignty4Europe project are exploring the principles of an ‘Internet-of-Trust’. The aim is to design a system that securely stores varied transactions in a blockchain. IViR is conducting the project in collaboration with researchers from TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam and other partners. The 3.3-million euro project was funded through contributions from NWO, RvIG, Holland High Tech, Topsector HTSM, and Delft Blockchain Lab TU Delft.
Project leader Johan Pouwelse (TU Delft): ‘Internet behemoths like Amazon, eBay, Google essentially sell trust: we use Amazon and eBay as trusted intermediaries, and visit Google to find relevant websites. These giant companies then store our personal data on their own individual servers. We aim to replace these US-dominated central servers with a general, non-profit and open source alternative that can serve as the basis for a reliable blockchain economy. A scalable and reliable way of maintaining trust and reputation in an open environment, with no need for a central authority.’
The project should culminate in the design of an internet-based system capable of reliably storing a wide range of transactions in a blockchain, in line with European legislation. This will make individuals uniquely identifiable and allow researchers to ascertain levels of trust from previous transactions. The Internet-of-Trust infrastructure is currently being evaluated in an online community made up of 50,000 internet users. The legal aspects of this blockchain economy are being evaluated on the basis of national and European privacy laws.
The project is being headed by Balázs Bodó, the founder of the ERC-funded Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab. Bodó: ‘The legal team is assessing how new, technological forms of trust building can work with rather than against the legal system's current trust building instruments such as regulation, law enforcement and the court system.’
In addition to the three universities, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations' National Office for Identity Data (RvIG) is also actively participating in the project. RvIG aims to contribute to an open, universally accessible ecosystem that meets both social (privacy and security) and economic needs. Amongst other benefits, the new system should help strengthen trust in digital transactions, reduce costs and promote the development of alternative forms of service provision such as an electronic ID card.
The project should also yield insights at a European administrative level. The European Commission (EC) has asserted that blockchain technology allows for new distributed and interaction models that are based on direct peer-to-peer information exchange and do not require any central platforms or intermediaries, and is currently assessing the feasibility of an EU Blockchain Infrastructure (EuroChain). Sovereignty4Europe seamlessly reflects these European ambitions.