Blockchain and Citizenship: Uneasy Bedfellows
Forthcoming in Oreste Pollicino and Giovanni De Gregorio (eds), Blockchain and Public Law, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2021.
20 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2020
Date Written: October 23, 2020
Distributed Ledger Technology can be an effective tool for resource distribution. As individuals and organisations explore innovations which allow to redefine the rules of access, possession and sharing these developments also become important for the future of self-determination. Demonstrated through credit scoring and ‘social credit systems’, the identity of an individual is intertwined with resource access, possession and transferability. A key pre-requisite for participation is formal legal status, which translates to citizenship. However, many proponents of Distributed Ledger Technology focus predominantly on technological features and capabilities, which might enable the implementation of concepts such as decentralised governance, ‘self-sovereign identity’ management, and trust-less transactions based on ‘zero-knowledge proof’. Nevertheless, such narrow consideration overlooks existing legal and political realities. Considering the lessons learned from citizenship, it becomes questionable whether Blockchain as player in the area of identity management will ultimately increase human dignity, or further manifest traditional patterns of discrimination and inequality.
Keywords: Blockchain, Citizenship, Privacy, Discrimination, Digital Identity, Self-Sovereign Identity
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