The European GDPR imposes powerful obligations on custodians of personal data to handle that data respectfully. Among the obligations is the right of the persons concerned to demand deletion of the data when no longer needed, and the right to receive a copy in structured format.  The logic of this leads to a P2P data model.  Business and political interests suggest that there is no reason for Europe to pull back when insisting that this logic be applied to its logical end – data, computing and control at the edge rather than the center.  Europe is sensitive to the dangers of too much information being aggregated and European companies have not been winners in the race to create and monetize large aggregations.

Some may doubt whether a system of technologies and actors can exist in which most of the benefits of hub-based transacting can be enjoyed even without massive aggregations of data.

IoT shows the way.  A really functional system of “things” working with one another requires that they be able to do so “locally” – by communicating either directly with one another or via an intermediary who is nearby.  An IoT-equipped furnace must be able to authenticate an IoT-thermostat, verify that the thermostat is who it claims to be and has authority to direct the furnace.  The furnace also needs to verify that the thermostat has the funds – some kind of balance of some kind of currency – and transfers the funds to the account of the furnace, so the furnace can pay for the fuel.  All this needs to be able to occur even if neither furnace nor thermostat can communicate with the outside world.  The internet connection might be down.  For security reasons, too, it is better if the information doesn’t leave the house, except as needed to coordinate with others.

The problem of the thermostat and furnace of course can be scaled up.  The parties might be two ships or two banks.  Their need for action might be less urgent, but ideally they would want the same reliability in dealing with others as the thermostat and furnace enjoy. Their problem is technically less demanding, a lesser-included case.

Governments might want the same independence for their operations and for their economies, companies and citizens.  The technology that solves the problem of IoT interactions can assure the independence of communities, including even countries.

 

 

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