Consumer Privacy And The Never Again Pledge + Secret Smart Contracts With Enigma Testnet 1.0
We regularly attack Silicon Valley and tech companies for all sorts of reasons and even though we privacy/freedom loving sensible people would have our disagreements like whether these social media companies have the right to censor etc. our attacks are mostly just and based on reason. They are defenses against the aggressions on our rights and principles. Many times the defenders could miss to appreciate the goodness present in the tech giants. We have to understand that we are not fighting an enemy of flesh and blood. We are against certain policies and certain ideas. At times, some of those who are at the other side of the fence may converge on the same ideas we are holding and fight against the same ideas that we are against.
I'd like to use this as an opportunity to commend some of the efforts from the individuals involved in the tech companies. It's a pledge tat they made and you can read it below.
We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.
We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.
Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.
We commit to the following actions:
- We refuse to participate in the creation of databases of identifying information for the United States government to target individuals based on race, religion, or national origin.
- We will advocate within our organizations:
- to minimize the collection and retention of data that would facilitate ethnic or religious targeting.
- to scale back existing datasets with unnecessary racial, ethnic, and national origin data.
- to responsibly destroy high-risk datasets and backups.
- to implement security and privacy best practices, in particular, for end-to-end encryption to be the default wherever possible.
- to demand appropriate legal process should the government request that we turn over user data collected by our organization, even in small amounts.
- If we discover misuse of data that we consider illegal or unethical in our organizations:
- We will work with our colleagues and leaders to correct it.
- If we cannot stop these practices, we will exercise our rights and responsibilities to speak out publicly and engage in responsible whistleblowing without endangering users.
- If we have the authority to do so, we will use all available legal defenses to stop these practices.
- If we do not have such authority, and our organizations force us to engage in such misuse, we will resign from our positions rather than comply.
- We will raise awareness and ask critical questions about the responsible and fair use of data and algorithms beyond our organization and our industry.
These actions must be applauded. You can learn more about it at http://neveragain.tech/about.html But at the same time, I'd like to present you something that did a much bigger things at a much bigger scale. For that I won't be quoting the document.
Now how did that work?
Surely it worked and had a massive impact on the world. Then it started going down. Now Democracy has taken the place of principles. Values and codes have become negotiable. Many signed the pledge. I'm sure they'll try. Some will back down and others won't. But at the end of the day, there is no guarantee that these principles will be applied.
Don't Be Evil < Can't Be Evil
This is when "code is law" matters. As long as codes remain unchained, the principles will be enforced automatically. That is the power of unmanned organization made via the power of innovation and technology. For those who believe in this, here is one good news:
At Enigma, our mission is to build the first platform for scalable, privacy-preserving smart contracts, which will enable end-to-end decentralized applications. Centralized applications, acting as single points of trust and consequently single points of failure, open themselves up to data breaches, identity theft, and other manifestations of security violations. Decentralized applications work to mitigate these issues, but unfortunately can’t do so in a scalable, privacy-preserving manner. With the launch of Enigma Testnet 1.0, we had provided developers with the first taste of writing secret contracts and dApps that interact with them.
What follows is an end-to-end walkthrough guide exploring Yao’s Millionaires’ Problem. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular #firstworldproblem, it was introduced in the early 80’s by Andrew Yao, and studies the scenario where two millionaires (Alice and Bob) want to know which one of them is richer without ever revealing his or her net worth to one another. The goal of this guide is to demonstrate how you can quickly:
- get the testnet set up
- write your first secret contract
- construct a simple React front-end dApp to interact with your contract
Just imagine what can be done with a project like this out there. Obviously you won't get privacy on par with PGP because you can't run smart contracts like that. But your data will have privacy and you can have your results guaranteed by the law of the code. No big brother watching you but the results are as good as transparent and although Enigma won't scale as well as EOS, we still have a real usable product and if we use it, we can start depending less on pledges and more on something automatically enforced.