Towards Blockchain-based GDPR compliant Online Social Networks: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Online Social Networks (OSNs) are very popular and widely adopted by the vast majority of Internet users across the globe. Recent scandals on the abuse of users’ personal information via these platforms have raised serious concerns about the trustworthiness of OSN service providers. The unprecedented collection of personal data by OSN service providers poses one of the greatest threats to users’ privacy and their right to be left alone. The recent approval of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) presents OSN service providers with great compliance challenges. A set of new data protection requirements are imposed on data controllers (OSN service providers) by GDPR that offer greater control to data subjects (OSN users) over their personal data. This position paper investigates the link between GDPR provisions and the use of blockchain technology for solving the consent management problem in online social networks. We also describe challenges and opportunities in designing a GDPR-compliant consent management mechanism for online social networks. Key characteristics of blockchain technology that facilitate regulatory compliance were identified. The legal and technological state of play of the blockchain-GDPR relationship is reviewed and possible ways to reconcile blockchain technology with the GDPR requirements are demonstrated. This paper opens up new research directions on the use of the disruptive innovation of blockchain to achieve regulatory compliance in the application domain of online social networks.