Blockchain’s potential to maintain a distributed, tamper-proof infrastructure for collective digital reminiscence has taken on an surprising political salience for residents in Hong Kong.
Quickly after Hong Kong’s public broadcaster Radio Tv Hong Kong, or RTHK, revealed its intent to erase any archived content material older than one 12 months, residents hurried to save a trove of previous information footage that had till now been freely accessible to the general public. The explanation for his or her haste was the popularity that RTHK’s archive accommodates essential protection of the current years of anti-authoritarian struggles and protests that have been initially sparked by the introduction of the draconian national security law, in addition to proof of those struggles’ brutal repression.
The battle over the collective document of the previous has lengthy been underway at an official stage, encapsulated by the Hong Kong police’s try to rewrite the narrative of one of the crucial violent and traumatic episodes within the 2019 protests: an indiscriminate assault on civilians on the suburban subway station Yuen Lengthy. RTHK’s neutral protection of that episode will likely be among the many content material misplaced to oblivion now that incremental deletion is underway.
Towards this backdrop, a blockchain platform that first emerged on the peak of the protest motion is now poised to supply residents and activists with the very important means to reclaim and protect their current political historical past in its integrity.
The platform, known as LikeCoin, is a blockchain-based decentralized publishing infrastructure that gives a decentralized registry for all method of content material. Its options allow Hong Kongers to coordinate their efforts to archive now-endangered data throughout one distributed and tamper-proof collective database.
Slightly than storing the information itself, LikeCoin registers the metadata — i.e., data relating to the content material’s writer, title, publication date and site. It additionally stamps every entry with a novel and immutable digital fingerprint: an International Standard Content Number, or ISCN, just like a ebook’s ISBN.
The platform’s founder, Kin Ko, advised reporters that whereas downloading and saving content material in an ad-hoc method might assist residents to withstand official censorship of historical past to an extent, proving the authenticity and integrity of that knowledge sooner or later will likely be extra problematic. He defined:
“If you happen to’re the one who backed it up, you’ll be able to look by means of the laborious disk. However what when you’re not that particular person? Or what in case your laborious disk has damaged? […] How have you learnt that [backed up] picture is similar picture taken 10 years in the past? How have you learnt there hasn’t been additional work performed to it?”
With LikeCoin’s blockchain infrastructure, in 10 (or nonetheless many) years from now, will probably be doable to know whether or not or not the content material has been tampered with by monitoring any modifications to its digital fingerprint. In terms of traditionally vital archived video footage, that might provide a clue that the unique file might have been reedited in a intentionally deceptive method.
LikeCoin makes use of its personal blockchain to keep away from the excessive transaction prices of a community like Ethereum at such a scale. Backing up a rustic’s current political historical past isn’t any small matter. Ethereum had, in a extra restricted context, memorably been used to publish and protect a single letter by Chinese #MeToo activists battling authorities censorship.