KuppingerCole Report
Advisory Note
By Ivan Niccolai

The Blockchain and Life Management Platforms

The core features of blockchains - decentralization and algorithmic consensus – can enable the creation of Life Management Platforms (LMPs) with better security and availability, as well as promote wider public adoption by providing independently-verifiable proof of personal data integrity. Even though there remain some requirements of LMPs that are not solvable with blockchains, overall the benefits that blockchain technologies can provide to LMPs are far from negligible.
By Ivan Niccolai

1 Management Summary

Can blockchains enable Life Management Platforms and encourage widespread user adoption? This paper examines some of the core challenges of LMPs - which are not only technical in nature but as they relate to gaining sufficient trust to allow for mainstream user adoption – and how blockchain technologies can respond to these challenges. The key challenges of LMPs today are:

  • Gaining sufficient user trust of LMP solutions given the highly sensitive nature of personal data that these solutions would be storing, processing and sharing with third parties
  • The protection against the abuse of privileged access to an LMP personal data store, while still providing good levels of supportability to manage lost user credentials or critical life events
  • The on-going protection of personal data even after it is shared with a third party

Blockchains can most certainly assist in the first point by providing demonstrable proof of data integrity and confidentiality to end users: mathematical proof over mere trust. Related blockchain technologies such as multi-party public key cryptography can also mitigate against the risks of privileged access abuse by providing novel approaches to key management. Yet the final point remains a challenge for which blockchain technologies have no immediate answers.

The recommendations of this paper are to focus on the core requirements of LMPs, rather than focusing on the low-level technical implementation details such as which blockchain technology to use. This is especially important given the maturity levels of many proposed and existing blockchain solutions.

2 Highlights

  • Rather than simply trusting an LMP solution provider, blockchains would allow users to have mathematical proof of the integrity and confidentiality ...
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3 Introduction

The concept of Life Management Platforms is premised on the principle of data sovereignty, which is the belief that individuals and organizations shou ...

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4 Life Management Platforms

Life Management Platforms (LMPs) combine personal data stores, personal cloud-based computing environments, and trust frameworks. They allow individua ...

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4.1 Protected information store for personal data

This is of course the foundational component of any LMP, a personal data store is a repository for storing personal user information. This store needs ...

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4.2 Granular Access Control for data stored on Platform

Since the types of personal information stored would vary widely in terms of sensitivity, and given the importance of keeping identity relationship co ...

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4.3 Information Control remains with individual - Data Sovereignty

User controlled access control leads to a key principle of LMPs:data sovereignty

The user must have ultimate ownership and control of all infor ...

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4.4 Life Events Management

LMPs must be able to handle many common life events, data sovereignty is incomplete without the ability for users to define a “personal information ...

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4.5 User Managed Access: “controlled push” & “informed pull”

LMPs must be able to support a concept known as “informed pull”, that allows for receiving information from various parties without disclosing the ...

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4.6 Standardized Protocols for Privacy- and Security-Aware Information Sharing with Third Party Applications

Much as the OAuth standard works today, LMPs will require published standards enabling information sharing with third party applications. Yet, unlike ...

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5 Life Management Platform Challenges

LMP solutions face some significant challenges today, largely due to the high level of user trust required given the sensitive information an LMP woul ...

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5.1 User Trust

No matter the strength of legal protections and rights relating to personal data in place, which impose strict guidelines relating to the handling of ...

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5.2 Securing Sensitive data from Hackers and Insider Abuse

As with all trusted third parties which are the custodians of large repositories of personal data, no matter how good their security processes and def ...

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5.3 Protecting Shared Information

The fundamental problem with third party sharing is that once information is disclosed, it is out of control. Today we neither have a means to encrypt ...

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6 Overview of Blockchains

Blockchain, a distributed append-only, linear data structure, which uses consensus algorithms to enable a degree of controlled decentralization, was b ...

Bitcoin’s blockchain is known as a public, unauthenticated and “permissionless” blockchain. It is both decentralized and distributed, as any par ...

In order to best understand the use case suitability of various blockchain projects, KuppingerCole has developed a blockchain taxonomy (shown in Figur ...

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7 Blockchains & Life Management Platforms

The main features of blockchains which are relevant to LMPs are their decentralized architecture, independently verifiable tamper-evident transaction ...

Centralized, trusted parties have their place in technology and society such as barristers, government departments and escrow services (digital or not ...

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7.1 Mathematical Proof of Integrity

A key challenge of LMPs is the ability to provide personal information confidentiality and integrity assurances to users. This is where the consensus ...

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7.2 Insider Abuse of Privileged Access & Outsider Infiltration Prevention

No attacker or insider should ever be able to hit “the information jackpot” by compromise/abuse of privileged credentials. This is where decentral ...

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7.3 User-Controlled Personal Data Storage

The need to prevent the privacy and security risks associated with centralized systems is of paramount importance in LMPs. It is therefore useful to e ...

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7.4 Personal Information Sharing and Data Processing

Personal information sharing in future LMPs would need to function much like OAuth works today, yet OAuth is only an access protocol, it does not spec ...

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7.5 Smart Contracts and Life Management Platforms

The use of blockchains for smart, or self-executing contracts is a key blockchain capability and has been amply documented in other KuppingerCole repo ...

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8 Challenges

Major challenges remain which include slow growth in LMPs, existing user identification or enrolment difficulties, as well as the challenges relating ...

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8.1 User Identification challenges

There are other LMP challenges that blockchains will not be able to overcome. This is simply down to the complexity of human identity and contexts, as ...

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8.2 Blockchain Challenges

The blockchain’s potential for creating distributed and decentralized, strongly-consistent, tamper-resistant systems for secure data storage and pro ...

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9 Conclusions and Recommendations

It is highly unlikely we will ever see a single identity solution, even if it is completely user-controlled. Yet it remains highly likely that we will ...

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10 Acronyms

Acronym Term
APT Advanced persistent threat
B2B Business to business
B2C Business to customer
C2C Customer ...
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