Blockchain & Fundamental Human Rights – Part One

Data & Research / 18.10.2019

Many hails and sings the praise of the resilience to censorship of the blockchain, and there are many cases where it’s fully justified. In accountancy, in money-related matters, it is certainly an excellent thing. In business this is a powerful tool to build trust for your brand, and in these, it definitely makes sense to use the blockchain.

But the blockchain has now sets its eyes on social media. It would be, just as stated above, a very powerful leverage if this was only to convey tips or count votes, but they are invading a rather gray territory: likes and dislike, and above all… they are immortalizing ideas, articles, and stories.

In this series of articles, I will visit the blockchain through the eyes of the human rights, and how its different usages comply or infringe human rights.

Why is all this on a gray territory? Because we are speaking of human relationships there. While, ideally we’d follow the first article of the Fundamental Rights stating that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” reality such as constant warring, terrorism, and criminality definitely prove that it isn’t so.

Let us visit the second article of the Human Rights:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”

At first we can say that just any blockchain does a good job at this. After all, anyone who can access a computer, smartphone, or any device can interact with the blockchain without having to ask anyone else’s permission, and so none of the above criteria can impede someone from getting access to it.

Oh, wait… “without distinction of any kind, such as […] social origin, property, birth or other status,” let me think about that again. Damn, aren’t those three criteria what determines, at birth too, if you have access to technology. Then by nature, just like any tech-related matter, isn’t the blockchain elitist per and in itself? Yup, if you are from a village where the only computer is in that local office and the limited bandwidth is used for official communication, you don’t have access to blockchain. It’s within the nature of technology.

Some will argue with me here, indeed, these people can use paper wallets, right? Wrong. Awfully wrong. To print a paper wallet, it comes with a cost. A dire cost: find someone who has a computer, have him create the paper wallet. In such places who is likely to do so?

Either crypto-based charity (to date I don’t know of any which is a international trusted organization with certification that it’s not your everyday charity-hoax), plus, when you make someone live out of charity, you are not on the level of humans rights, you are at the survival level. And when you’re in the survival level, humans rights are merely fairytale for when times will get better.

Let’s couple the first and second articles, and you have a major issue with social media on blockchain. If someone use the social media blockchain to cyberbully you, then his freedom of speech is respected… But what about you being entitled to be treated with a spirit of brotherhood? Unless your family allow your brothers/sisters to bully you at will, then by all means this cyber-blockchain-bullying infringe on your rights.

No problem in any social media, posts can be deleted, account banned… but what about blockchain social media? Well, there you’re screwed. Unless it’s built on EOSIO such as Telos, or EOS, or for the matter any other blockchain which allows for change/deletion of in-chain smart contracts, then you have an issue: once your basic humans rights have been infringed, then nobody on earth can do justice to you.

And on that matter, not even the highest instances of the world, not even international pressure, not even if millions of people would sympathizes with your misery can erase that. You have just lost the right to be forgotten, you are immortalized as a victim, and no one has a say in this. Your bully’s freedom of speech just vanquished your first and prime Fundamental Right of being treated fairly and kindly.

Please people mistake me not, I am essentially and completely convinced by crypto-currencies and blockchain, but I am also convinced that to make this technology advance, and gain momentum, its ethics must be discussed, and that the technology must evolve to a degree where we can effectively all coexist properly on the crypto-sphere.