Blockchain Beginning to Move to Other Areas of the Law Besides Securities

The First in the Blockchain Lawyer Series

By Jack Najarian

In 2017, blockchain exploded onto the world’s consciousness as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies skyrocketed in price. People became wealthy overnight. Others became wealthy through trading cryptocurrencies. This was followed by ICOs and utility token being launched and sold all over the world, some being launched in direct defiance of securities laws. Fraud and speculation was rampant. As expected, the SEC and other regulators have responded and have cracked down on the launch of ICOs and other cryptocurrencies. In step, the price of cryptocurrencies has plummeted.

While securities law practice has seemed to dominate the activity in the blockchain space, new opportunities for lawyers to contribute to this space are starting to emerge. One such area is digital identity. The internet has become one of the main ways people, on a regular basis, use various credentials to prove who they are. Whether it’s banking, shopping, or even sending email, people rely heavily on centralized systems held by Google, Amazon, Paypal and others, to confirm that they are interacting with an authentic person on the other side. The digital identity space is ripe for a tool like blockchain to help people control their own identity in a secure, but decentralized way.

One organization leading the charge in this effort is Sovrin. Sovrin is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit currently implementing a global public utility on a blockchain network for digital identity. Sovrin wants to “bring the trust, personal control, and ease-of-use of analog IDs – like driver’s licenses and ID cards – to the Internet” through establishing standards for “self-sovereign identity.” Self-sovereign identity on blockchain would provide digital identity that does not depend on a central authority and cannot be taken away.

Lawyers and other professionals are currently involved in helping Sovrin’s cause through its global policy working group. This working group was established to help Sovrin identify and establish legal pathways through the complicated network of identity systems around the globe. It’s a monumental task that has endless potential. Blockchain law practice is starting to mean much more than securities law practice.

On The Plane To Bangladesh

By Jeffrey Aresty

November 27, 2018

With stops in Chicago, Hong Kong, and a date with the immigration officers at the airport in Dhaka, it’s 30 hours of traveling to get to a place where I can bring together all the pieces of 13 years of running a non-profit.  I had my first vision of “harmonizing law” for a connected world long before I became a lawyer when my dad’s business partner, Tom Riley, handed me a letter of credit to analyze in 1977. After going to school at his elbow as he explained that you needed one payment method that banks anywhere in the world would accept when you did business around the globe as he and dad did.  It worked! How this brand new lawyer knew about global commerce back then.

Here I am almost four decades later following in their footsteps in a 21st-century internet enabled way.   And, through letters of credit are still around, and, technology has given all of us hundreds of ways to pay for goods and services everywhere, our connected world remains disconnected for most.  More than half the world lacks access to any of these technology-enabled payment systems. And yet most of this disenfranchised crowd have access to the technology which could connect them to virtual money. With  a mobile phone, you are almost there. You also need law to support the reasons for making payments. Letters of credit supported the payment needs that Tom and Dad encountered while building factories, creating inventory, paying workers, and buying shoes from distant shores.  It should be easier to do this today.

No different than Tom and Dad showing a young lawyer how you could bring the benefits of a global shoe business to places in China that knew how to make a work boot, but not a women’s fashion shoe, I would like to see the benefit of their vision available to migrants everywhere in the world.

And so, after a year of creating digital assets in our PeaceTones “World United in Song”, working closely with Sovrin.org’s “Identity for All” council, studying the migrant crisis which has given rise to so much vitriol in the news, working with generous blockchain technology companies like ODEM.IO who are building an education credential marketplace for all, our team at Internetbar.org Institute came up with a plan to make law work for disenfranchised populations.  

It starts in Bangladesh, where I’m meeting Manny Nijjar of www.truu.id, a gifted MD, who has built a framework for credentialing medical skills from one culture to another.  We are going to Kailakuri, a health care project introduced to me by one of my wonderful past interns, Michelle Mount. We hope to build a best practices framework for medical credentials which are portable from one country to another.  Eventually, this idea can go far past medical credentials and utilize the types of systems that Sovrin.org and Odem.io are building for the future. There needs to be an underlying legal framework to support “identity for all”. But unlike the legal framework which banks created to support crossborder payments almost 100 years ago, nations take front stage battling for supremacy in law in a much more interconnected world than when I started law practice in 1977.

And so, like Dad and Tom, I’m off to faraway places, where the opportunity to make a difference beckons.  For this to work, it’s going to require many generations, many cultures, and many people working across the spectrum of life, to come together and enable the renaissance which a global society can share.  Law is a powerful enabler when it reflects the values of the society. And, in a world where we all can see each other and interact with each other anywhere, and, at any time, law has to work across borders.  

The blockchain technology and hype is real, but its impact is not here yet.  Unseen by most lawmakers, it will put the ability of private people to make law out of sight of governments. And yet,  this does not have to be a threat to governments who are claiming a near monopoly on making laws. Private groups have historically made all types of laws from community to industry and beyond which have been accepted by government.

So we are starting on the ‘identity for all’ front, with a disenfranchised population that deserves better – and, we’ll plant the first seed there.

I’ll keep you posted on the journey.   

December 2, 2018

After leaving Houston, Texas at 5.25 AM on Tuesday morning, I arrived in Bangladesh at 11.55 pm on Wednesday evening, which turned into Thursday morning by the time I got to the hotel in Dhaka. Bangladesh is 12 hours ahead of Texas, so this trip took just under 30 hours and 3 airplanes. Since then, I spent Thursday in Dhaka (the capitol of Bangladesh) and then Friday through Sunday in Kailakuri, a little rural village about a 5 hour drive from Dhaka.   It’s now Sunday morning as I conclude this note which I started writing yesterday morning, Saturday, December 1.

My first day in Bangladesh.

It was a long trip-30 hours all together. I changed planes in Chicago (from Houston), had a few hour layover, then flew to Hong Kong (12 hour flight). And one more flight to Dhaka (about 3 hours). Immigration into Bangladesh wasn’t too difficult, but unlike every other trip I’ve made overseas, this was to be the first where I would get a “visa on arrival”.  Seemed a little risky to me.

This trip came together just a couple of weeks ago, so there was no time to apply for a visa ahead of time.  After a few calls, and texts, I was given two different views on the prospects of attaining a visa on arrival – the first was to complete an online visa form on the Bangladesh Embassy website (which I did as best I could – suffice it to say that the technology interfaces kept failing me…), and, required passport-like photos (special size, and, requirements) – which I dutifully arranged (35mmx45mm – whatever happened to inches?) .  So I was ready to hand over an entire packet of papers to immigration. The second point of view, which turned out to be the more accurate one was – don’t worry, just show up and make sure you have cash to pay for the visa in dollars (the website said $160, and, it turned out to be $51), so I was ready.

When I got into the immigration area at Dhaka airport, there were three different lines and no clear indication where to go, so I picked the shortest line.  That was a mistake, as it turned out. But I did learn something when I got to the front. Nothing I had prepared ahead of time was what was needed. The police officer said I needed a different form to fill out and he gave it to me. He said to fill it out and stand in a long line next to where I would have to pay money for the visa, and, then I could come back to his line for the visa interview, and then you get into a different line. And wait. By then it was 2 am. The visa interview consisted of – how long is your stay (needed to be less than 30 days), where are you staying (they wanted me to show booked reservations).  And why are you here (the only correct answer if you are not arriving to work for pay is “tourism”). I was not asked to show my booked airline reservation to return to the US, though I had copies of that. No matter. I got through – Manny had a bit more trouble the next day as they weren’t satisfied at first with the letter we had arranged for him showing his accommodations at Kailakuri – but fortunately, the folks at Kailakuri were paying attention and when they were called by the police to confirm Manny’s letter, he got cleared.

After I got through immigration, things got a little more normal for me as I met Minhaz, who became my trusted adviser for the next several days.  The people at Kailakuri had arranged for Minhaz, one of their most trusted persons, a Bangladeshi who could speak excellent English, to meet me. Minhaz asked after my trip, and then suggested that I do a couple of things that would be easy to do at the airport and not later. What?  At 2.30 AM – sure enough….

I changed some money and got a SIM card. The hotel had a car waiting. And I was at the hotel in 30 minutes. 

Just a note on the Taka to dollar exchange.  Just under 85 takas to one US dollar. My dad (and, I believe Tom as well ) taught me that the easiest way to do convert money was to find the nearest easily divisible number in the conversion so that when you looked at the local currency, you could immediately make the conversion.  This was going to be easy. 85 to 1 is pretty close to 100 to 1. So 100 taka became one dollar. 1000 taka became ten dollars. If I wanted to round it up to be more accurate, I could, but it really wouldn’t matter since the cost of buying things in Bangladesh was ridiculously cheap compared to the US as I found out when I bought some electronics the next day.

My hotel  was the Hotel Dhaka Garden Inn, which was close to the airport. This was Michelle’s recommendation and I was lucky once again to have good lodgings after a long day and a half of travel.

My first full morning (Thursday) I got up and Minhaz was waiting for me and he took me to get a 4g modem (grameen) and a cheap phone (Michelle warned me the country is 3g and the modem is 4g – I spent less than $50 on everything).  Are you kidding me? We had a driver for the day – so I was about to experience the traffic of Dakha for the first time. But the trip to the “mall” – it looked a bit like an upscale flea market, with everything you could imagine, in hundreds of stalls – all inside.  Minhaz knew where to go – and, though I initially did not understand the point of getting a 4g Grameen stick and a cheap Nokia phone which would share the sim card I had bought the day before. Well, Bangladesh is mostly very slow 3G, which means all your computer usage on the internet creeps along.  With a 4 G stick plugged into my computer, I would be back to more normal speed.

Afterwards,  Minhaz took me sightseeing and we went to the Martyrs Memorial for Bangladesh, which gained their independence in 1971 from Pakistan.  After all the roller coaster driving it took to get to the memorial, the peaceful contrast on the grounds – where there are memorial gardens, pools, trees planted by heads of state from around the world (with markers) – made for a calming experience.

Driving here is nuts. It makes Boston and Houston combined look like kindergarten. But you have to treat it like an amusement ride or you’ll get crazy. I’ve been through this before-in India. This used to be part of India years ago. People everywhere – taxis which are the size of mini-coopers.  Animals of all all stripes (lots of oxen – yikes) crossing unmarked roads where anyone can drive and cross anywhere. There is no such thing as a cross walk. This relatively short 1.5 hour ride from Dhaka to the memorial was a harbinger of the next days trip. In the meantime, we returned back to hotel where I planned to catch up on some sleep – I didn’t sleep at all on the plane rides, nor, in the two days preceding the trip with too much to do to get work done and get ready – but when we got back to the hotel, I had a note from an NGO I had contacted before the trip to see if I could stop by.  As it turned out, JAAGO Foundation’s office was a five minute walk from the hotel. 

The doctor from the UK arrived at dinner time (Manreet Nijjar,  www.truu.id) we talked a bit and both of us went to sleep since we’d be getting up early to drive to the healthcare project Kailakuri early Friday morning. That’s what we did- and we got here after a 3 hour absolutely crazy drive through cities and eventually into a very rural area. 

I’ll tell you more about Kailakuri next time, but you can check out their website at www.kailakuri.com. It’s an amazing model for the world. 

Take care. 

One week to go!

Jeff 

 

The Growing Importance of the Digital Wallet

The Internet Identity Workshop has been finding, probing and solving identity issues twice every year since 2005. The 27th Internet Identity Workshop will take place at the Computer History Museum from October 22 -25, 2018. The core themes are: identity, privacy, and customer empowerment. IIW brings together the largest concentration on the planet of talent individuals dedicated to designing and building identity systems that empower individuals to discuss and share the real-time pulse of genuinely disruptive technologies that are the foundation of today’s important internet movements. IIW was started to discuss what was then called “user-centric identity”, and the recent interest in self-sovereign identity, blockchain-based identity, and related systems has pushed that conversation to a new level.

One subject which will be covered during this event is the growing importance of the digital wallet – Wikipedia defines it as follows: A digital wallet refers to an electronic device or online service that allows an individual to make electronic transactions. Ken Fromm 3x Tech co-founder said, “The digital wallet will serve as the gateway to all interactions within the blockchain. It will do so for every action — not just for storing or trading cryptocurrency. It will also provide access for managing and trading traditional financial assets whether they be in the tradition form of cash in a savings account, stocks, bonds, warrants, options, as well as other financial instruments currently traded on exchanges or exchanged bank account to bank account.”

Going further, the digital wallet will provide access for managing and trading non-financial assets as well. These include assets that exist completely in digital form as well as physical assets that have a representational ID in existing in blockchain-ready format. They will hold and manage access to important data that is at the center of personal and business interactions. Some of this data might be related to a form of ID such as passports, driver’s licenses, social security numbers, and voting registration. Other data might relate to policies and agreements including insurance policies such as health, home, auto,and life, cable and utility agreements, and auto and home purchases and mortgages.

Digital wallets may soon even control and manage on your behalf all the data that you currently upload and create on websites of today — the social network you created on LinkedIn and Facebook,the emails you store on Gmail, the purchases you’ve made at Amazon, the photos you’ve uploaded to Snapchat and Instagram.

If the online world moves from a centralized world to one that is decentralized, then digital wallets will manage and maintain all the data that currently is connected to you but resides in centralized repositories owned by third parties. In a decentralized world, you will have title to this information and can bring it with you. You will use the wallet to provide access to your preference and in return, receive a personalized experience. This attention and preference data will not be locked in silos for use by a single vendor or corporate entity but instead be usable by you for your benefit. With power, though, comes danger — all issues that wallets will inevitably work to help address, much as browsers help address unsafe websites.

To learn more about the digital wallet and stay updated on tech news, become a member of IBO, sign up for our newsletter or ask to join our next webinar on digital wallets.

UNCITRAL Resolution

Cloud based transactions are the new e-commerce. But whether you have a dispute with an e-commerce provider, or  the intermediaries in the cloud that you have depended upon to support your transaction failed, you may run into problems online.

At the UN’s UNCITRAL meetings, policy makers have finally recognized that transactions that occur online will likely induce people to stay online to resolve disputes. That brings us to the whole purpose of ODR.  If you have a problem online and are forced to find a physical court to fix the problem, you will not return online again to that service provider.  ODR solutions are the natural solutions for the cloud.It’s finally time for the UN to get it.

Download (PDF, 575KB)

Identification for the Stateless Refugees: Wrap Up

The Internet Identity Workshop has been finding, probing and solving identity issues twice every year since 2005. They meet at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Every IIW moves topics, code, and projects downfield. Name an identity topic, and it’s likely that more substantial discussion and work has been done at IIW than any other conference.

Jeffrey Aresty, Larry Bridgesmith, Jonathan Holt, and Kristina Yasuda convened the program on “Identification for the Stateless Refugees” focusing on the Rohingya refugees on April 3rd.

They kicked off the session with a screening of “Is the Lady listening?”, a music video the PeaceTones project recorded in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh with Rohingya refugees, which was produced by international human rights lawyer David Levy in January 2018.

It was a great privilege to collaborate with musicians in the Rohingya Refugee Camp. They will not be silent in the face of genocide, and neither should you.#TheWorldUnitedinSong Musicians from around the world promoting human rights and social justice.Special thanks to the Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities in Cox's Bizar for their support. Written by Sayedul Islam, Rahamatullah, and David Levy. Translated by Muhammad MX Cox. Bass: Etson Caminha. Backing vocals: Abhisek, Ifti Chowdhury and Kelsey Shaw. Videographer: Noyon. Video editing by Malkriado Cinema: Thomas Henning, Mariano Goncalves, Jonas Rusumalay Diaz II, and Allone Madeira J. Additional editing by Eric Carden. A PeaceTones production.

Posted by David Levy on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By providing the musicians the opportunity to tell their story to the world, we believe that the refugee population has taken the first step to regaining its identity. This sets the foundation for more digital identity work. See The Invisibles project.

Towards the end of the session, an open question was directed at the participants: What possible obstacles remain?

Their answers:

  • Refugees lack formal credentials that can be put into a digital wallet.
    • The last thing refugees want to do is to give out their real name.
    • SSI does not necessarily solve refugees’ problems.
  • At which point of the refugees’ journey are we addressing: those who just crossed the border or those already in the camp?
    • Identification and a method to match supply and demand in the camps are different things. People are not looking at the UN IDs as identities, but as means to get food.
  • Do these solutions require State actors and a top-down approach?
    • There is low trust towards State institutions in parts of the developing world.

Additional feedback focused on the need for solutions to context specific. One participant mentioned the need to consider providing identification for marginalized populations in the developed world such as homeless people, in addition to refugees and global south communities. And finally, political questions remain, but we can and have to start acting.


Call to Action

Support Rohingya Musicians who are making a difference in their communities through giving a voice to the voiceless. By supporting PeaceTones, you will raise awareness about the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, assist local human rights activists and their communities, and broaden the market for local artists. Visit peacetones.org/call-to-action for more information.

2018 Computational Law & Blockchain Festival: Houston Edition Wrap Up

 

The first annual Computational Law & Blockchain Festival brought together coders, designers, lawyers, policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and students to co-create the future of law, legal practice, and policymaking. In the spirit of decentralization, the entire event was hosted by independent, self-organized nodes around the world.

 

IBO seeks to achieve justice for all through leveraging technology and global community collaboration and are proud supporters of Legal Hackers and their projects. Join IBO today to receive more opportunities to build the justice layer of the internet.

Through a combination of educational sessions, hackathons, and policy discussions, our event highlighted what Houston has to offer in this space.

With the support of The Accord Project, Legal.io, OpenLaw, Monax, MIT Media Lab (law.mit.edu), Legal Hackers, Station Houston, and many more, we were able to focus on the innovation the blockchain could bring to law and the justice system, not just it’s entrepreneurial advantages.

(Available videos and presentations can be found within this report. Certain speakers have sections allocated to them; the videos start automatically at the appropriate time.)

While Houston did not have a hackathon track, our sister node in New York, with support from IBO, submitted a project for the Dispute Resolution Challenge.

The Copyright Protection for All project background:

PeaceTones® enables musicians to develop and disseminate their art by bringing crucial legal, technology, and business skills to historically unheard musicians. Traditionally, in a developing country, refugee camp, or anywhere in the world (really), to initiate the music creation process, a producer relies on intermediaries for introductions and connections to identify musicians and verify the identity of the artists and the originality of their work. The secure, scalable trust-based RelateID blockchain simplifies and digitally enhances this process.


We held two educational workshops:

“Blockchain 101 Workshop”, which was presented by Jeffrey Aresty, President of IBO, and Jack A. Najarian, business and real estate lawyer.


Tanveer Chaudhary, the founder of the Design Thinking & Innovation (DT&I) community, taught the “Design Thinking Workshop,” which explored the utilization of Human Centered Design concepts to design BlockChain solutions and related best practices.

Download (PPTX, 12.56MB)


Our policy discussion track dominated the event, with a variety of blockchain experts examining identity to the U.S government to the oil and gas industry’s role in the field:

“Identity for All” was presented by Jeffrey Aresty, during which he discussed verifiable identity that is secure and portable and the key to opportunity, which is one component of access to justice.

Download (PPTX, 6MB)


“Can the Analog Blockchain Go Digital? The Potential Impacts of Blockchain Technology on Oil and Gas E&P” was presented by Jack A. Najarian.

Download (PDF, 5.28MB)


Darrell Malone, co-founder of cryptocurrency distributor CoinVault ATM, presented “Blockchain.gov”. (His section starts at 42:26.)

https://prezi.com/view/IxsVYlAULAjn1QpDZLXS/


“Cryptocurrency & the Sustainable Development Goals” was co-presented by Ryan Brown, entrepreneur, and radio host, and Azam Zarif, founder of Investofy. (Their section starts at 1:59:10.)

Download (PPTX, 2.11MB)

Download (PPTX, 5.8MB)


“Open Discussion: Crypto, Blockchain, and Opportunity” was presented by Sheldon Weisfeld, CEO of CoinVault ATM. (His section starts at 2:56:32.)


Larry Shi, an Associate Professor of the Computer Science Department at University of Houston, presented “Blockchain for Good: Use Cases, Enabling Technologies, and Challenges”, which examined a wide range of DLT use cases for social good, in particular, usage of blockchain and DLT for financial inclusion, democratic process, fair trade, environment.

Download (PDF, 3.09MB)


During “Blockchain Basics & Legal Issues,” Sharon Yin, cryptocurrency and blockchain lawyer, discussed blockchain basics, smart contracts and how blockchain relates to cryptocurrencies as well as past precedents and current legal issues facing the industry.

Download (PPTX, 1.08MB)

Here is a complete list of our speaker bios.

What’s Next?

For Legal Hackers and IBO Members based in Houston: We’re 500 members strong and counting, and are amazed by the sheer amount of people willing to create the change and innovation they want to see.

Next week, we are organizing an impromptu leadership meeting, open to anyone who wishes to attend. We’ll be discussing:

  • Monthly Speaker Nominations
  • Improvements for next year’s blockchain festival
  • 2018 calendar
  • Potential projects

For our non-Houstonian friends: we invite you to attend remotely and discuss your ideas and projects as well.

Access to justice isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s a movement, and we invite you to be the change you want to see.

Using Block Chain Technology to Return Control of Personal Information from Corporations to the Individual

For the past several years, the number of corporations that offer pro bono services has been on the rise. Pro bono refers to services offered by corporations free of charge to communities, using the time and skills of employees. Kristina Yasuda, who is being interviewed in this article, is a pro bono worker and joined Accenture in August 2017 upon graduation. While performing her normal work in Accenture Strategy, Kristina participates in an international public-private social contribution project called “The Invisibles,” which helps develop digital identities for the socially vulnerable populations. We interviewed Kristina about the relationship between technology and human rights, as well as the significance of the project.

[ HBR also spoke with Hiroshi Makioka, the Senior Managing Director at Accenture Strategy Japan. This translated article was originally published on Harvard Business Review Japan.]

Refugees without personal identifications are not legally recognized as people

Ms. Yasuda, what sparked your interest in humanitarian uses of technology?

During my student days, I attended an international conference held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the use of technology. My colleagues and I discussed how technology should be used to benefit humanity, and I became excited about the possibilities. While my major (at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, or Science Po) was International Relations, I was also interested in technology and spent one year studying abroad in Silicon Valley and learned about programming, etc.

At the time, I directly faced the challenge of “the fragmentation of personal identification systems in developed nations.” For example, the most recent security breach of the credit reporting service Equifax resulted in large-scale leakage of personal information belonging to some 140 million Americans (almost half the population).

Additionally, everyone’s personal information is siloed and kept in databases, such as the case in Equifax.  Every company that makes you sign in keeps personal information data in a database that is supposedly secure.  With so much data being kept by numbers of companies, it makes us all wonder what kind of information is used for what purposes and by whom. As a result, groups such as Customercommons.org take a new position:  everyone should be able to control access to his or her own personal information. However, fixing already established identification systems in developed nations is very challenging.

While studying in France and traveling over Europe, I witnessed arriving refugees and how they are treated. These refugees were without personal identification (ID), and were thus not legally recognized as persons, and deprived of human rights. If they had IDs, they would be recognized as persons and receive public services. As I spoke with people from NGOs and international organizations, the concept soon solidified into my mind, that if governments were unable to act for political reasons, then civil society needed to act. We needed to find a way to create a new mechanism for granting public IDs to the 1.1 billion persons around the world with such a need.

Without an ID, a person cannot build a foundation for living in the modern world, including access to healthcare and education, opening a bank account, or concluding a service contract for a mobile phone. Even if an individual had an ID in his or her home country, when the person flees the country due to conflict or political turmoil, he or she has no means for identifying himself or herself upon arrival in the new country, resulting in obstacles to achieving even a minimum standard of living.

Using Blockchain Technology to Issue Digital IDs

So, specifically, what kind of system was constructed?

We came up with the idea of issuing a “digital ID” using Blockchain technology, which was first used for virtual currency transactions. The NGO Internetbar.org Institute, where I work, decided to combine the Blockchain technology of the Sovrin Foundation with the biometrics authentication technology of an NGO iRespond. In other words, we organized a private group of non-profits to organize the idea and initial project, and then reached out to larger organizations and government to get on board.

This system allows personal information to be securely managed on a personal device, and after personal information is verified (proofed) under a developing international standard, it can be placed on the Blockchain. The details are more technical to assure that only verified information is part of a person’s ID, but this is the basic idea.

Until now, the administrative agencies and credit card companies of each country have taken the lead and determined the success or failure of a transaction at their own discretion. This new mechanism avoids situations where accumulated personal ID information is proprietary to an administration or a company, and allows individuals to access their own personal information from various locations when needed to give on a limited basis to a third party.

In sum, the system allows an individual to control access to his or her personal information, giving the person the right to specify and approve the disclosed range of his or her information in response to individual inquiries and requests, not allowing information access without the individual’s permission. This is what we call Self-Sovereign Identity.

Proof of concept is already underway, I heard.

Yes. As a project that provides digital identities for those who are socially vulnerable, iRespond issued digital identification certificates that allows tens of thousands of undocumented workers on the border of Thailand and Myanmar to be identified by retina certification using biometrics technology.

As a result, medical treatment can now be given with reference to records such as the refugee’s medical history. Additionally, while the system to date cannot verify whether a person who used a certain ID was indeed that person, resulting in problems such as falsification, the new mechanism offers a solution. Still, some undocumented workers are mistrustful of this new system, a problem that needs to be addressed.

In the future, we hope to combine retina certification and Blockchain technology, and expand the application of digital ID certificates to technologies such as FinTech and EdTech.

Possibility for Global Reverse Innovation

What are the advantages of this mechanism?

As I just mentioned, this system decreases risks such as the misuse that results when a person cannot control access to his or her own digitized personal information. Currently, credit card companies and companies such as major electronic commerce sites have all of our personal information and we have no choice but to approve access of our personal information by others. We believe we can turn such a structure upside down.

The region that is one of the first to test such a concept is the European Union (EU). In May 2018, the EU will enforce the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new personal information protection rule.

The GDPR is a law that allows an individual to request a company for a change in or erasure of personal data related to him or her on any one of a number of grounds including non-compliance with the method of information retention and personal data use. The law prohibits data transmission outside the EU and, as the latest and strictest global standard, puts pressure on companies across the globe to respond.

Will such personal information protection become firmly established in a global context?

I believe so. As technology continues to advance and the possibilities in personal information management and protection become increasingly possible, global practical use will certainly accelerate. Companies will also change their awareness toward personal information and start listening to those who wonder whether the risks and costs of retaining mass amounts of personal information are worth the advantages received. Governments also spend quite a bit of money holding and managing the IDs of its citizens. There is increasing awareness that the management and protection of personal information that forms an individual is a basic human right.

What should be the purpose of technology?

What is the reason behind Accenture Strategy’s active involvement in community-based activities that contribute to society?

Hiroshi Makioka: At the foundation of its involvement is the belief that technology, irrespective of the times, must be used to improve our lives as well as the communities in which we work and live. Accenture continually accumulates deep technology knowledge and insight in an effort to remain unrivaled in the support we offer our clients in the current digital revolution and, based on the above belief, cannot help but feel that our value lies in contributing to the community in concrete ways and ensuring tangible results.

In this sense, the activities that we offer to the community are not plus-alpha type activities, but rather core activities that maximize our contribution to the world.

Stance toward Solving Problems in Our Communities

How will Accenture Strategy accelerate such initiatives in the future?

Hiroshi Makioka:  The concept that technology is for people, which I mentioned at the start, must take root in the DNA of all employees. For example, while we are proud to be the leading company that provides consulting support in areas such as “Connectivity, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric” (CASE) advocated by Daimler in the auto industry, we must consider what such a world brings or must bring to the level of richness of human lives.

In terms of the extremely large problem of the protection of rights of the socially vulnerable, we must, before we solve the problem of personal identity described by Kristina, consider conventional protection aspects as well as incorporate a new perspective: how to make such a person shine. How can we utilize technology at this time? For example, even in a world of increasing indifference, how can we make it possible for people to learn and experience what the “socially vulnerable” want to do, what they never had a chance to do, or what they felt having survived such turmoil? It is important to think about such things.

At Accenture, pro bono activities are the result of an individual’s will and effort. An experience outside of Accenture such as Kristina’s is an extremely valuable asset, and is sure to help make that DNA mentioned above take root deep within. ■

Profiles:

  • Kristina Yasuda, Accenture Strategy, Accenture

Graduated top of the class from International Relations Department, Paris Institute of Political Studies. Worked as a Japan Youth Representative in numerous international conferences held by UNESCO, UNFCCC, ASEAN, and the EU while a student. Established and spearheaded a digital identity certificate service at Internetbar.org Institute (NGO) in the US based on the theme of supporting developing countries. Joined Accenture in 2017.

  • Hiroshi Makioka, Senior Managing Director, Accenture Strategy Japan

He worked at Marubeni Corporation and Bain & Company and joined Accenture in 2014.