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Decentralised Citizens Owned Data Ecosystem

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DECODE (Decentralised Citizens Owned Data Ecosystem)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-12-31

The DECODE project has developed practical alternatives, through the creation, evaluation and demonstration of a distributed and open architecture for managing online access and aggregation of private information to allow a citizen-friendly and privacy-aware governance of access entitlements. Strong ethical and digital rights principles are at the base of DECODE’s mission, moving towards the implementation of open standards for a technical architecture resting on the use of Attribute Based Cryptography, distributed ledgers, a secure operating system and a privacy focused smart rules language.

In DECODE, entitlements attached to private data are searchable in the public domain but grant access only to those parties that have the entitlement to access it. By helping citizens regain control of their data, we have generated public value rather than private profit. Our goal has been to create “data commons” from data produced by people, sensors, and devices, jointly with data from Public Administrations (City Council), in order to enable citizens with this shared resources to contribute, access and use the data as a common good, without intellectual property rights restrictions.

DECODE main outcomes have been tested and scaled in four integrated pilots in two European cities. The pilots involved real-users communities of citizens and ensured that new technological tools were field-tested with a large community of developers and users. The project has focused its efforts on technology exploitation and ecosystem development with the main goal of guarantee the sustainability of the Decode tools.
WP1 has brought together the technical partners through a strong collaborative process to arrive at the baseline architecture and design for the DECODE implementation. Moreover we have also outline a review of the licensing options for data commons, even cases in which data commons include personal data, and the design of a set of smart rules to be adopted (also within the context of the DECODE pilots) when personal data are processed.

In the WP2 in order to promote commons-based models that respect digital sovereignty of citizens, and to do so from a multidisciplinary perspective, we conducted an in-depht investigation of the data economy and data platforms. It has been also provided an economic regulatory analysis of the dominant, centralized and monopolistic economic models of data-driven platforms which have contributed to define the key points of DECODE sustainability and future development.

The efforts in the WP3 have been devoted to combine the privacy enhancing features of Attribute Based Cryptography (ABC) and smart contracts with the autonomy that comes from using a distributed system. It has been set Decode tools to enable users to define the entitlement policy regarding the access and control of their data using applied cryptography, and to manage it through a decentralised DLT infrastructure.

The WP4 has been focused on completing the software development work that goes down to the level of the operating system and further to the hardware boxes deployed. It has been integrated the components developed in the overall DECODE architecture following a lean testing and deployment. Besides, huge efforts have been performed in the development of the DECODE App and also to guarantee a proper graphical interface design in all the tools developed.

During the project, WP5 has explored, designed and worked on value propositions. In both cities, there were engaged communities that performed the pilot process. Moreover, numerous user journeys, mock-ups, architectures have been developed for each pilot with the aim to facilitate mutual understanding, inform architectural decisions and enable decision making on scope and implementation. In order to measure and promote the deployment of the pilots in a real world scenario a series of meetings and events were celebrated with the community.

WP6 have developed a dissemination strategy and communications plan for the whole project. Besides, extensive communications activities have been performed and two major Symposiums devoted to policy, economic & legal technology framework and developers were held in Barcelona and in Turin. To ensure the sustainability of the project a full report on Decode events impact and communication, technical exploitation strategy and standardisation activity were published.

WP7 has been maintained a high level of project management with respect to deliver the objectives and reports on time and at the highest quality. The consortium structure and specific roles were set out at the start of the project and modified it according to the needs that have arisen as it is described in the amendments. Organisation of the face-to-face meetings enabled partners create an overview of the project and a shared structure. Moreover, the Mid-Term review was a fundamental milestone to review the work performed and to receive feedback from the reviewers and Officer to reorganize the priorities.
Developers, social entrepreneurs, crypto experts should be able to plug into the DECODE platforms and use its modules, protocols and languages to develop new applications, making sure that data rights of citizens are protected. In order to achieve that, it is being developed the following technology:

- Zenroom is a cryptographic virtual machine that executes sophisticated cryptographic schemes, including elliptic curve pairing on a wide range of cryptographic curves and the “Coconut” scheme developed by UCL in the project. Zenroom’s has a completely isolated virtual machine built in it, which can be programmed in Lua or in “Zencode” its own non Turing complete domain specific language, which can be written and read by non programmers. Zenroom is already being used in pilot deployments by non-affiliated third party developers.

- DECODE Nodes that serve as the basis for the DECODE network incorporate several significant innovations, such as DECODE OS, ARM-Based Arduino boards and Tor-dam. The nodes have already been deployed by some Consortium partners. DECODE OS is a multiplatform minimalistic linux distribution that connects to a Socks5-enhanced private Tor network.

- The DECODE App is a mobile application which is the citizen’s main point of entry to the DECODE universe. The DECODE App is currently configured to support the DDDC pilot and BCNNow. The mobile app is multiplatform, modular, developed with extendibility in mind, well documented and the source code is well organized.

- The Arduino DECODE H8 is an IoT board designed from specification collected within the project and its innovative hardware configuration can run software that crosses the current IoT boundaries. A port of Zenroom to run on the board in a “bare-metal” configuration has reached a prototype level.

-DECODE’s research has developed important new technologies in central fields for privacy. Among its more innovative contribution is the Zencode language, executed by Zenroom, which allows non-programmers to read and write smart-contracts that are executed on multiple blockchains. On the economic side, we have conducted a detailed analysis of the economic models and an analysis of how power and decision making can be more equally distributed through different governance approaches. Our research has had an impact in interactions both with the academic world, with civil society, businesses, and policy makers.