LaborX: The balance between privacy and transparency

  •  LaborX will need to strike a balance between making relevant data about workers and clients freely available to those who need it, and maintaining the privacy of those who use the platform. Here’s how ChronoBank will approach that tension.

    The blockchain is immutable and transparent: a permanent and unchangeable record of all the information ever uploaded to it. This feature is one that many blockchain projects leverage to maintain accountability. ChronoBank will use it to ensure that users of the system do not register with multiple profiles to get around any problems of poor feedback. Otherwise, in the event of being given a series of negative ratings scores after a number of jobs, which will compromise their chances of working with anyone else in the future, a worker or client could simply re-register — wiping the slate clean to start again.

    However, the blockchain comes with implications for Privacy. Bitcoin is often described as an ‘anonymous’ payment protocol. The reality is that the blockchain is pseudonymous: addresses are effectively random strings of characters, and although it is possible to see the trail of transactions right from a coinbase transaction up to the present, it is not inherently possible to identify to whom those addresses belong. The problem comes in the fact that information is so easily leaked, and once the holder of an address is identified, they can then be linked to every subsequent transaction. Post a bitcoin address on a public forum, or send it in an email, and it is associated with any other data available through the same means. The immutability and transparency of the blockchain means that posting private information on it entails serious risks: it will always be available to anyone who wants it.

    Public vs private profiles

    ChronoBank will manage this tension between necessary privacy and transparency by dividing data into public and private profiles, and ensuring that private information is never published on the blockchain in ‘plaintext’.

    Every worker will have a limited ‘Public’ profile that will include:

    · Nickname (consisting of first name plus the first letter of their last name, e.g. JohnS) · Thumbnail photo · Relevant field(s) of work · Skills · Rating, based on the decentralised LaborX system · Pay rate · Activity points · Approximate location · List of previous jobs completed, including pay

    Non-sensitive data will also be held in the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). A second block of private data will never appear on the blockchain or anywhere else public in a form that would be useful to malicious third parties. This might include information such as exact locations for the client/worker; scans of key documents like passports; and specific instructions for the worker.

    Hashes of these data blocks, including scans of any documents submitted, will be included with the worker’s profile. These hashes will be cryptographically signed by the Evaluator or other body that submits them. If any organisation (such as an employer) requires this information, they can check the signature to ensure its origins are legitimate.

    This system should maintain a reasonable balance between the need to give prospective employers and workers the details they require to make an informed decision, and protecting them from invasions of privacy and possibly exploit and financial harm.

    For more information, or read the LaborX white paper.

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