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The EU really doesn’t like tech – can we leave yet?

“In an almost direct clash of intentions, the GDPR has effectively banned the use of blockchain technology in Europe because of its immutable nature. The GDPR offers the power back to the individual to edit and delete data which falls into the hands of centralized authorities, but when there is no centralized authority, there is no need for data to be moved around. This is the crux of the GDPR’s clash with blockchain. So, what happens to Europe and the next technological wave?”

Darryn Pollock, columnist for Forbes.

The “blockchain” technology is a distributed ledger that allows information to be securely transferred without the need for third-party authentication, which could mean that many of the settlement and custody functions provided by banks – the sort of “plumbing” of finance we take for granted – could be done far faster, and at less cost. Although the crypto currencies that sit atop of this technology have their fair share of sceptics, the blockchain tech. is seen by banks as a potentially revolutionary one. While people complain that some London-based jobs could leave London if the UK has a clean Brexit and leaves the Customs Union (not to be confused with access to the European market as such), I would wager that blockchain will be far more important in affecting financial employment overall.

And yet the EU, with its usual plodding, bovine way, has enacted data protection rules (GDPR) that could blight this new technology, as well – as we have already seen – add layers of costs to organisations of all kinds. Coupled with the recent vote by MEPs to impose intrusive and costly controls on the internet, I’d hope that all those Millennials whom we are told are full of so much love for Brussels might wake up. This doesn’t of course mean that British politicians aren’t capable of enacting plenty of daft laws, but it’s usually a sight easier to lobby for change at a national level than try to persuade hundreds of millions of voters in 28 countries to change.

So as Tim Worstall likes to argue: can we leave yet?

5 comments to The EU really doesn’t like tech – can we leave yet?

  • T Michael Lutas

    It’s not quite as bad as all that. It requires that nothing be put on the blockchain that must be wiped according to the incompatible dictates of GDPR and that existing chains are going to have to be forked with any existing incompatible data excised so the block after the most recent incompatible data will be the first block in the new chain.

    None of this is a problem for the technology per se. It plays merry hell with many of the sophisticated innovators who wanted to compromise and tame the technology so that it is compatible with conventional governments. It affects people like Mircea Popescu, not one whit because he doesn’t store personal information for his own reasons and cordially wishes the lot of governments to go to hell when the occasion arises. That man, and others like him, have raised the pirate flag and will be using the technology serenely in accidental compliance with the dictate not to store personal information.

    Libertarians who don’t know Mr. Popescu will be tempted to rally to his pirate flag on the strength of this description. You probably want to investigate first. Start off with his views on slavery.

  • I suspect the EU has little understanding of blockchain – like many other things – but dislike the idea of something not being centralised. 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    This just one of a legion (legion of Devils) of European Union interventions – many of them designed to crush Freedom of Speech, especially on the internet.

    As for “can we leave yet” – no the European Union is the “Hotel California” – you can “check out – but you can never leave”. Mrs May will deliver “Brexit” – and “Brexit means Brexit” it means that we will continue to be under all present and all FUTURE European Union regulations as the law of this land – controlling out INTERNAL affairs.

    “But that is not independence” – Mrs May did not promise independence (there is no leaving the Hotel California) Mrs May promised “Brexit” – which means whatever she wants it to mean.

    Do not worry – soon Mrs May will do another dance, promise to spend more money on everything (“just borrow without limit” – as if local councils were not debt already) and crack a few jokes.

    It appears that all my worst fears were true – and, believe me gentle reader, you do not want to live in a place where the fears of Paul Marks come true. Leave if you can.

  • Eric

    And yet the EU, with its usual plodding, bovine way, has enacted data protection rules (GDPR) that could blight this new technology, as well – as we have already seen – add layers of costs to organisations of all kinds.

    I suspect the EU views this as a feature rather than a bug.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I found a little annoyance from GDPR legislation in those little popups that confirm if it is ok for the site to store your information in a “cookie”, now whilst this is normally a one time affair as the response is recorded, and considered to be not much bother for most people, the problem is those of us who use browsers designed to avoid tracking and adverts, which ultimately ignore cookies or do not persist them, you get this annoying popup every single time.

    Ironically, the GDPR legislation does not actually favor individual privacy at all, it makes it harder to achieve.

    I don’t know if this was intentional on the part of the EU as they actually deep down want to track everyone like all good socialist utopias are want to do, but I’d be more likely to assume it was an unfortunate oversight – clearly, the EU is not a friend of individual privacy.