An introduction to DECODE

An introduction to DECODE

Decode is a European
project that wants to give back data
sovereignty to citizens, building open source tools
that are decentralised, privacy enhancing,
and rights respecting. There are 14 partners,
two big cities– Barcelona and Amsterdam,
cryptography experts, technologies, economists,
and sociologists that are coming together to
build tools that give back control of data to citizens. I think a lot of people believe
that by using the internet, they have to give
up all their data. That is sort of intrinsic
of the internet. But it’s not. It’s the business models
that are behind the services and companies that we use. Data, at the moment,
is free, open, shared, but not in a good way. Now days, data is a
very precious asset and is used by companies
to provide services that respond to precise
needs and desires of people. For me, Decode is two things. First of all, we
don’t only complain about companies who do wrong. It’s also about showing how
we to do it right, basically. So like it’s more
constructive than saying, hey, this is wrong what
you are doing. It’s also showing what you
can do in the right way. My vision for Decode
is to provide platforms that allow users to have
more control over their data when they interact
with services. On the other side, I have
people writing services that can easily
get access to use a data with appropriate
privacy controls because a lot of the creators of
services would like to do that. It’s just that currently,
technically, it’s very difficult and
also create platforms where generally communities can
create services for each other and within the community that
kind of respects users’ rights. We employ sophisticated
cryptographic techniques to preserve people’s privacy
so they can record things in the ledger and
verify that something was true without having to
reveal their private data or have it stored in the ledger. Their private data
always remains stored within their wallet and
is not accessible to anybody unless they choose to share it. Well, it will know
that about them. And then they’ll be able
to use that information so that they can
access the community projects without
sharing specific details of their actual address
or where they live, perhaps things like
their date of birth might be important if
they’re entitled to vote. Decode is different
to other platforms because it’s a long
term perspective. Another unique
thing on Decode is, I think, working on a
European-wide consortium, not just one city, one team,
one group of tech people, policy people, et cetera,
but [INAUDIBLE] to Europe working together. So the part of this
called iDigital is mainly thought in
terms of the interaction between the Decode platform
and the platform Decidim. Decidim is digital platform
for participatory democracy developed first by the
city council of Barcelona. And it’s used for all kinds
of participatory processes, from deliberation to citizen
initiatives, et cetera. iDigital Barcelona is the
first [INAUDIBLE] Barcelona. And it’s about providing
privacy aware technology for an existing platform
for open democracy, which allows citizens to
safely participate in the public domain. By giving the
participants confidence that their data
will only be used by the people they
intended it to, we can enable a whole
ecosystem of value to be built on this data,
which we call the data commons. So between now and the
end of the project, we’ll have lots of
opportunities for citizens to get involved in helping
us develop the technology and the focus of the pilots. There’ll be regular meetings,
hack-a-thons, challenges, in the cities of
Amsterdam and Barcelona, and also the opportunity to
participate in the pilots, helping us to test
the technology that’s being created. And on top of this data, we
can unleash all the talents that cities have that can make
our digital society better.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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