Blockchain, a solution to securing and managing personal data?

14 May 2018

It’s no secret that the amount of personal data being collected and processed is rapidly increasing. It’s estimated that over 20% of all of the world’s data has been collected in just the last couple of years, and that this will continue to increase exponentially moving forward.  

While the collection and analysis of this data can provide great benefits for businesses and customers alike, there’s a growing concern surrounding the privacy and security implications of not only the amount of personal data being collected, but who ‘owns’ that data, and how it’s being secured, processed, and analysed.

Increased concern about these issues, and actions from regulators, such enacting The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), represent a critical step towards ensuring EU citizens have more control over their personal data moving forwards. However, companies will likely struggle to properly manage and utilise personal data without robust technical solutions that are fit for purpose.

In this environment, we anticipate a paradigm shift in the relationship between customers, companies and personal data. The rapid evolution of ‘digital identity’ and data management solutions that provide a combination of transparency, security, resilience, and automation will emerge as superior to legacy systems. Stemming from this shift, blockchain is a technology that can provide a key piece of the puzzle for data management solutions of the future by solving challenges that were previously not possible to address such as: 

  • Transparency: By design, a blockchain-based data management capability broadcasts the state of the ledger (specific read/write access is configurable) to all nodes on the system, providing a ‘golden source’ truth surrounding the state of personal data.
  • Privacy and data protection by default: Blockchain-based systems utilise state of the art encryption to effectively obfuscate data in a way that allows parties to validate the integrity of the transaction ledger without violating the privacy of the parties transacting on it.
  • Data minimisation: Blockchain-based systems are designed such that parties on the network only share the minimal amount of data.
  • User owned digital identities: Personal data associated with a user’s ‘digital identity’ can now be owned, verified, and exchanged over decentralised networks, giving users increased control over the data they share and the access companies have to their identifying information.

 There’s no doubt that we are in the midst of great changes surrounding personal data management. The implications of the concept of ‘ownership’ of digital identities, and how companies can more efficiently and securely manage personal data is a priority for our clients today. Blockchain is emerging as a technology solution with the ability to solve these challenges with great benefits. Is it now time to rethink your data management landscape to incorporate this technology?

If you would like to find out more about GDPR or Blockchain please contact Jeff.Handler@pwc.com or Leigh.Bates@pwc.com

Jeff Handler | UK Blockchain Driver

Leigh Bates | Partner, FS Data & Analytics

 

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