Facebook, IoTeX, R3 Among New Members of Confidential Computing Consortium

From the article:

“Confidential computing brings privacy-preserving smart devices to the next level by not only allowing users to own their private data, but also to use it in a privacy-preserving way,” Raullen Chai, CEO of IoTex, told CoinDesk in an email. “This has major implications for consumer-facing industries such as health care and smart homes, as well as enterprise for private multi-party data sharing and interactions.”

Chai, based in San Francisco, said there are two immediate use cases where confidential computing could make an impact on everyday people’s privacy. 

One is facial recognition in public spaces, an area that is under intense debate and scrutiny, particularly as protests against police brutality continue in the U.S. 

There are traditionally two sides to this debate, said Chai. On one side are privacy-conscious people who don’t want images of their faces scanned and analyzed by governments and other actors. On the other are governments (their supporters) who, broadly, are prepared to sacrifice people’s privacy in the name of public good. Confidential computing has something for each hand. 

“Reactive regulations will never achieve the goal of satisfying both sides, but confidential computing orchestrated by blockchain can,” said Chai. “With confidential computing, facial recognition processes can be executed within a secure TEE-based confidential computing environment, where the raw data (people’s faces) and a cross-referencing database of faces can be analyzed and subsequently forgotten after the desired results are obtained by governments.”

Another area of interest is contact tracing, used to track the spread of COVID-19, and clinical research about the disease. Chai said projects such as Google’s Project Baseline, which leverages user-donated health and location data to combat COVID-19, are important. Google Cloud is a member of the CCC. But the project’s privacy policy includes concerning language, including the baseline terms and conditions, which prevents users from deleting health data once it is contributed. 

Chai said confidential computing can serve as a win-win for initiatives like Project Baseline because it allows the project access sensitive data that’s important for pubic health, while also providing assurances to people sharing their data that they can trace and revoke it at any time. 

Blockchain technology offers a coordination mechanism for computers using TEEs, allowing access to data among parties that might not trust one another, such as a consumer and a large corporation. Smart contracts can set the rules of engagement to be programmable, and make the end-to-end confidential computer process both trusted, and verifiable, according to Chai. 

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