Blockchain Method Protects Personal User Data

Blockchain Method Protects Personal User Data

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Imagine this scenario: you enter a website, and before you can access any of the information there is an annoying popup asking you to “accept cookies.” Impatient to reach the content you’re interested in, you click “accept all.”

Sounds familiar? Accepting cookies online is a very common action many internet users make automatically, but this small action holds various security risks. When a user consents to cookies they lose control over their sensitive information, as they do not and sometimes cannot review the conditions they accepted.

A research team from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) developed an innovative environment based on blockchain technology that avoids this scenario by allowing users to control what happens to their personal data and what it is used for at all times.

According to Techxplore, accepting cookies gives permission for sensitive information to be shared, risking the privacy of users who don’t know how and what it will be used for. The EU acted to mitigate these risks by proposing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to which service providers must obtain explicit consent from data subjects to collect and process their personal data.

However, many web providers responded to this requirement by presenting users with the cookie acceptance form, which brings up several following issues: the law does not define how providers should demonstrate that they received consent, most users don’t know what rights they have over their personal data, and most users don’t have efficient methods to know what third parties do with their data.

This new study created a personal data management platform based on blockchain technology. It generates smart contracts that are published for life on the blockchain and cannot be amended, meaning that the terms agreed cannot be modified and the binding nature of the contract cannot be denied.

Users can use this smart contract by installing a program on their browser that intercepts the request for consent and responds according to their preferences. Users can then manage all the consents accepted and track who has them, when they were granted, what they are being used for, and how to modify the details at any time.

This research, published in ‘Computer Communications,’ makes the management of personal data more secure and gives users more and better control over their information.

This information was provided by Techxplore.