The regulatory landscape for data security and data privacy today is proving difficult for lawmakers, as they struggle to navigate challenges posed by the huge online economy. Efforts in 2019 were therefore accelerated to standardise and reinforce policies for data security, with many solutions coming from privacy-enhancing technology such as blockchain and cryptography.

Domen Zavrl has studied cryptography at Stanford University, learning about some of the ways in which sensitive data can be shared securely among authorised users. A definition of cryptography can be found in the PDF attachment to this post.

It is believed by many in the tech arena that blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the management of identity and personal data for private citizens as well as businesses.

General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, became enforceable in the European Union in 2018 after being adopted in 2016, and most agree that this has had a profound effect on the global privacy landscape.

The process implemented in 2018 began to pick up steam in terms of enforcement and compliance throughout 2019. The first of the global corporations to face fines reaching multiple millions of dollars were the Marriott chain and British Airways. The aftermath of this legislation coming onto effect saw many jurisdictions working on attaining a status of GDPR-compliance to facilitate the exchange of data across borders.

In the United States there is currently no regulation at federal level. In California, the CCPA, or California Consumer Privacy Act, came into force early in 2020. As the first regulatory framework to be adopted in the US, it seems likely that other states will wait to see what the results are of this experiment before making decisions on laws that currently govern practices for financial data.

In the embedded infographic, you can find out more about the seven principles of the GDPR.

Applications in Cryptography Subfields

Cryptography subfields, which include blockchain technology, are seeing explosive growth in the development of new applications for data security. The industry expects to experience a boom period in enterprise-oriented applications in particular.

The widespread adoption of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are currently reorganising the ways in which data is handled, which has the potential to lead to more data scandals in the not too distant future.

Proponents of blockchain believe that this technology has the biggest potential to resolve the most important and challenging issues currently facing data security, maintaining authorised access while ensuring strong levels of privacy.

Challenges Facing Blockchain

While blockchain certainly has the potential to underpin solutions to various data privacy challenges, it is not without its own points of contention. First, the immutable nature of blockchain means that if any ‘bad’ data does enter the chain, it is almost impossible to remove it. Second, if a violation does occur within the blockchain, the decentralised nature of the ledger means identification of the responsible party would prove extremely difficult.

As a decentralised, distributed ledger system, there are many that argue blockchain should not and cannot be subject to regulations such as GDPR, if enough users of the network agree. If blockchains are to remain decentralised, then with no central authority to make decisions, each node on the network is essentially voting on what should happen, making them extremely hard to regulate by outside authorities.

You can learn more about the ways in which blockchain can help to increase data security by watching the short video attachment.