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 previous, residents hurried to save a trove of previous information footage that had till now been freely obtainable to the general public. The rationale for his or her haste was the popularity that RTHK’s archive comprises essential protection of the latest years of anti-authoritarian struggles and protests that had been initially sparked by the introduction of the draconian national security law, in addition to proof of those struggles’ brutal repression.
The combat over the collective report 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 latest political historical past in its integrity.
The platform, known as LikeCoin, is a blockchain-based decentralized publishing infrastructure, which supplies 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.
Moderately than storing the information itself, LikeCoin registers the metadata i.e. data relating to the content material’s creator, title, publication date and placement. It additionally stamps every entry with a singular and immutable digital fingerprint: an International Standard Content Number, or ISCN, much like a guide’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 can be extra problematic. He defined:
“Should you’re the one who backed it up, you’ll be able to look via the arduous disk. However what in case you’re not that particular person? Or what in case your arduous 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 further work performed to it?”
With LikeCoin’s blockchain infrastructure, 10 (or nevertheless many) years from now it will likely be attainable to know whether or not or not the content material has been tampered with by monitoring any modifications to its digital fingerprint. Relating to traditionally important archived video footage, that would provide a clue that the unique file might have been re-edited in a intentionally deceptive approach.
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 latest 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.