- Data privacy-focused group, the Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC), which includes heavyweights such as Microsoft, Intel, Alibaba, and Huawei, announces the addition of six companies, including Facebook, Google, Accenture and three blockchain-based firms – IoTeX, iExec, and R3.
The CCC was launched in late 2019 by the Linux Foundation to bring together developers with a frequent need for data privacy to create confidential computing solutions. The CCC employs a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) technologies. TEEs allows data to be stored and computed on an excluded and secured area, preventing sensitive data from interacting with other parts of the device or application that may be less secure.
TEEs are heavily used on biometric security systems on smartphones, which keeps sensitive information from unauthorized apps. The data on TEEs is only available to authorized systems allowing systems to run without exposing massive amounts of raw data, which prevents AI and machine learning hacking. In a statement on TEEs, Stephen Walli, chairman of the CCC governing board said,
“Securing data-in-use in hardware-based TEEs can strengthen other security- and integrity-related technologies [such as blockchain-based apps].”
Walli also confirmed that the consortium’s annual budget would be bumped up to $800,000 for the 16 companies in the group so far.
Blockchain firms, IoTeX, R3, and iExec, join CCC
Only half of the new entrants in the consortium deal with blockchain-related services, with R3 an enterprise-focused blockchain company, IoTeX is an internet-of-things company that integrates blockchain technology to secure data and iExec, a decentralized cloud computing firm. The three companies will join Oasis Lab, the only blockchain company present among the CCC founding members.
Blockchain technology and TEEs share the common property of data security. The experience that these blockchain firms can bring data privacy TEEs so users will be able to not only “own their private data, but also to use it in a privacy-preserving way,” Raullen Chai, CEO of IoTex, said in a statement.
According to Chai, the introduction of TEEs in confidential computing will solve two main issues in people’s everyday data privacy – facial recognition and contact tracing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facial recognition and Contact tracing solutions
As governments enhance their public facial recognition systems, there is a group of citizens that fear the data may not be secure enough, which may be hazardous if the system is hacked.
Chai stated the company is working on a confidential computing solution that leverages blockchain technology to offer a middle ground for both the governments and skeptics. He said,
“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.”
Governments across the world are contributing millions to improve contact tracing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, users providing their location data has been tough given the security and trust issues patients have.
With the introduction of blockchain levered TEEs and confidential computing, Chai said a trustless platform would be created, meaning that users will not have to worry about their private and sensitive data being shared or used without their consent.