The blockchain division of IBM is widening its work in the nascent field of self-sovereign identity, which is a technology designed to give individuals some greater control over their personal data.

IBM now works with Hu-manity.co

The tech giant is currently working with Hu-manity.co, whose #My31 app just became available on iOS, as well as Android mobile devices. The name of the app alludes to the idea that legal ownership of one’s data has to be a “31st human right”, additionally to the 30 already ratified by the United Nations.

It is actually the latest in a line of some similar projects in which IBM was involved. Some other projects include SecureKey, which is a bank consortium building a digital ID system in Canada, as well as Sovrin, which is a contributor of the Indy toolkit for Hyperledger-based blockchains.

Being such, the partnership with Hu-manity.co is actually a strong signal that Big Blue sees some long-term business value in this use case for distributed ledgers. The general manager of IBM Blockchain, named Marie Wieck, said that getting the permission rights of the people on a blockchain is going to create a marketplace and entirely new economic business models as a result of that.

Indeed, while the app of Hu-manity.co is consumer-facing, enterprise versions commonly going to be possible for companies starting in the healthcare industry in the first three months of 2019, stated Wieck.

She said that they tend to allow that data is the next natural resource and like a natural reserve, it has to be mined responsibly in the same way. She added that blockchain merged with the notion of rights to individual data indeed helps the distributed sharing of that data securely and at scale.

The two companies will also cooperate with Sovrin

The founder and CEO of Hu-manity.co, Richie Etwaru, stated that he has a similarly expansive vision. Beginning with the well-established market for health record data, he said that he expects location data, as well as search history and e-commerce habits also to be owned by users.

Upon claiming their data property rights, the users of Hu-manity.co receive a title of ownership, akin to a property deed. After that their personal details, as well as signature and photograph,  can be added to the form of a hash on the blockchain, together with some things like the data-sharing preferences of the individual.

While the global consent ledger of Hu-manity.co, which records the granting and revocation of permission to use the data of someone, is built on the IBM Blockchain Platform with the use of Hyperledger Fabric, the two companies are also going to collaborate with Sovrin.

Comparing the personal data which humans produce to crude oil, Etwaru stated that the partnership with IBM will enable private blockchain to create a direct relationship between the rude data provider, which is the human being, and the buyer of the refined data at the end of the supply chain.

And in its refined form, personal data like a health record of the patient changes hands for an average of around $400.

Regulations in the U.S. and ahead are unspecific about personal data

Yet, some regulations in the U.S. and beyond are very unspecific when it comes to personal data, and they can be interpreted in various ways.

Provided data was masked, an organization could probably sell it for some specific uses, which might usually be for research as opposed to overtly commercial purposes. But, there could also equally be an interpretation whereby an individual has the right to notify a corporation, requesting them not to sell data in the de-authorized format.

But, Etwaru said that widespread adoption of an empowering data-sharing app would establish a call to action and pool consensus about how laws should work.

And, it is not only the individual that stands to gain. Etwaru said that rather than walking on eggshells concerning the growing awareness of people of their privacy, corporations could have clarity and transparency under what describes as a movement.

Wieck from IBM added that large anonymous datasets can be noisy and inaccurate, but they could better rely upon to be clean with the use of the blockchain app.

She said that in clinical trials, there is going to be a process of tracing data and ensuring these are all actual human beings and doing it at scale. She also said that they should trust transparency was a challenge until now.

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