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public broadcaster Radio Tv Hong Kong, or RTHK, revealed its intent to erase any archived content material over one yr outdated, residents hurried to save a trove of previous information footage that had till now been freely accessible to the general public.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 crucial protection of the current years of anti-authoritarian struggles and protests that had been initially sparked by the introduction of the draconian nationwide safety legislation, in addition to proof of those struggles’ brutal repression.
The combat over the collective document of the previous has lengthy been underway at an official degree, encapsulated by the Hong Kong police’s try and 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 can 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 top of the protest motion is now poised to supply residents and activists with the important means to reclaim and protect their current political historical past in its integrity.
The platform, referred to as LikeCoin, is a blockchain-based decentralized publishing infrastructure, which gives a decentralized registry for all method of content material. Its options allow Hong Kongers to coordinate their efforts to archive now-endangered information throughout one distributed and tamper-proof collective database.
Slightly than storing the info itself, LikeCoin registers the metadata i.e. data concerning the content material’s writer, title, publication date and placement. It additionally stamps every entry with a singular and immutable digital fingerprint: an Worldwide Commonplace Content material Quantity, or ISCN, much like a e-book’s ISBN.
The platform’s founder, Kin Ko, instructed 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 can be extra problematic. He defined:
“For those who’re the one who backed it up, you may look via 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 executed to it?”
With LikeCoin’s blockchain infrastructure, 10 (or nevertheless many) years from now it is going to be attainable to know whether or not or not the content material has been tampered with by monitoring any adjustments to its digital fingerprint. On the subject of traditionally important archived video footage, that might provide a clue that the unique file might have been re-edited 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 is not any small matter. Ethereum had, in a extra restricted context, memorably been used to publish and protect a single letter by Chinese language #MeToo activists battling authorities censorship.