The Blockpass Identity Lab, a pioneering new research facility, will explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and cyber criminals.
The laboratory will be built at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus as part of a £600,000 collaboration between the university and Hong Kong-based Blockpass.
A blockchain is a growing list of records or blocks, which is secured using cryptography and is resistant to modification; the technology is currently being used by Blockpass to develop an identity verification platform.
The research collaboration with the university will see the creation of the Blockpass Identity Lab. The initial three-year collaboration also includes funding for research staff, PhD studentships and a virtualised blockchain environment.
A series of data breach scandals at companies like Yahoo, Uber and Equifax highlighted the risks of centralising the storage of personal user data. Blockpass is using blockchain to develop alternatives which allow users to retain control of their identity, with only they deciding who can access their sensitive personal data.
Blockpass Chief Marketing Officer Dr Hans Lombardo said: “We continue to see identity management at the forefront of blockchain and cryptography discussions as the price of consumer data abuses becomes clearer and more pertinent.
“The creation of this lab in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University will provide a space where further research and innovation can lead that discussion to newer and more advanced grounds.”
A key focus of the lab will be to create world-leading knowledge and innovation around citizen-focused systems which enshrine the right to privacy.
Professor Bill Buchanan of Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, the Director of the Lab, said: “The world is changing and cryptography is now being used to fix many of the problems we have created on the internet. It can now help create a better society, with the citizen at its core.
“We aim to contribute to the building of a new world, based on blockchain. Whether it is health and well-being, or the changing of our public services, it is likely to be blockchain methods that will provide the foundation for the future”.
Dr Sally Smith, Dean of the University’s School of Computing, said: “This is another step forward in the advancement of our research and innovation, and builds on a strong track record of success.
“This collaboration builds a foundation for the future, and supports the development of advanced skills in blockchain research.”