Position Paper: Blockchain Technology and the Web in Symbiosis with the Telco Industry.

Author: Martin Kurze (T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom)

About the author:

Martin Kurze, Director Research & Innovation at T-Labs (Deutsche Telekom), is working on innovative and disruptive topics of the web-ecosystem since about 20 years, starting with web3D (VRML97) and advanced user centric ID-management approaches to web-based mobile operating systems (mainly Firefox OS). The current focus of his work is on privacy and security technologies in mobile and web context. Inside T-Labs he is leading a number of Privacy (and security) based innovation projects, some of them as consortial projects. His approach is to use technology to make the (open, web based) world a better place, leveraging the latest technology in a constructive pro-active manner (in contrast to traditional privacy approaches).

My Position (not necessarily DT's position):

While the World-Wide-Web is a service running on the internet with (basically) no central administration and no built-in privacy (or accountability), the telco industry is built on top of very powerful accounting capabilities: Telcos usually know (or at least can know) their users and the respective usage contexts. They use this knowledge to do "AAA" (Authentication, Authorization, Accounting) which is the telco business' core competence.

This results in many business opportunities and use cases where similar properties are required. In the Blockchain context, I want to highlight two of those properties with an (assumed) synergy potential:

Both are currently implemented (or inherently included) in telco business models and technical product portfolios. Both can be disruptively replaced or positively enhanced by Blockchain technology.

To further strengthen telco companies (at least the modern and agile ones) and to make Blockchain based models a success story for the end user, a strong and independant standardization force is needed. W3C and the web community can drive this standardization of Blockchain technology, infrastructure and means of operation.

Web and telco capabilities perfectly complement each other. In some cases the approaches of the "open web" and the "anonymous internet user" seem to contradict the very much regulated and controlled word of the telco industry and also with the need for trust, be it immaterial (= reputation) or material (e.g. financial).

End users as well as industries and businesses rely on these types of trust (and try to build both of them).

End users tend to request contradictory features, or they have different goals in different situations/times. E.g. a user might want to pay for a service anonymously but he wants to prove certain claims in different situations. And sometimes he might want to act anonymously and later on decide that disclosing and proving his identity might be desired.

Businesses (including personal businesses) request a transaction safe system that allows fast and reliable transactions that can be audited and proven if necessary.

Blockchains may help to combine all the different requirements and approaches. I suggest to address two of those in parallel and thus cover two "opposite ends" of the spectrum of blockchain uses cases:

Provide provable reputation (and reputation history) in three flavours based the same blockchain: anonymous, pseudonymous and personalized (optionally also applicable for small and medium enterprises).

Provide provable transaction history with no dedicated and permanently accessible "trust center/certification authority", but based on a "company-issued" blockchain where the company could be a trusted high-reputation telco.

The web and the W3C would play an essential role in both use cases, providing the open and standardized infrastructure and building on top of the numerous previous experiences with open, user-oriented yet industry friendly standards and practices.

This workshop should give all of us (telcos, W3C, end users) a clearer view on the opportunities and probabilities of success for collaborative approaches like this.

Ressources/prior work