Awards to Advance Security of Distributed Ledger Technology

A new research award has been announced. As part of the Horizon 2020 Program, the European Commission issued the award. Essentially, the reward will help fund research that will improve the security and privacy of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Horizon 2020 is a European Union research and development program. It started in 2014 and offers funding throughout its 7-year run ending in 2020. The total amount available throughout the duration of Horizon 2020 is almost 80 billion Euros.

DLT Vs. Blockchain

For clarification, DLT is the over-arching term which describes technologies which digitally distribute records or information (like that found on accounting ledgers) among all public and private users.

There is confusion between blockchain and DLT. Blockchain was the first Distributed Ledger Technology that was fully functional. So blockchain is a type or a category of DLT.

Purpose of the Award is to Advance DLT

The leading companies receiving the award are Smartmatic (voting and election technology) and Cybernetica (research and development intensive ICT company). The two companies came together to form “Smartmatic – Cybernetica Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting (SCCEIV)”.

“PRIViLEDGE” is the title of the project. Within this project, a selection of European players have been assembled. Their area of expertise is cryptographic research. They all have a background in Fintech and blockchain.

Their goal is advancement via collaboration. They intend to work together in order to advance cryptographic protocols having to do with privacy and security. Their targeted development all falls within the area of DLT. This project started in January and will continue for three years.

Who is All Involved?

In addition to the Smartmatic – Cybernetica Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting collaboration, other business and academic groups have joined the consortium. IBM Research Zurich, GRNET, Guardtime AS are the companies involved.

From academia, the University of Tartu (UT), Technical University Eindhoven, University of Salerno, and the University of Edinburgh are participating.

Also, there is GUNET, which is a non-profit civil company whose members are all from higher education and academia.

DLT, Blockchain, and Cryptography

One of the most groundbreaking technologies emerging in recent years has been Blockchain and DLT. The focus of these technologies is decentralization. Through this tech, centralized authorities and intermediaries are targeted for elimination. The installation of “distributed trusted services” takes the place of the centralized aspects.

Cryptography is at the core of these technologies. Cryptographic techniques are foundational in this space. DLT privacy, however, has not been adequately addressed with these public distributed ledgers.

The intention is for research to reveal what is lacking. The focus will be to revolutionize the cryptographic techniques from “the ground up.” The utilization of new protocols and new techniques are necessary in order for DLTs to live up to their potential. These new protocols and techniques will be designed to facilitate applications and protect the associated data.

Improving Voting and Elections

The specific focus of SCCEIV is found in the name. It is voting. They want to use the technology to improve and advance current online voting tech. They believe they can ensure complete security and maintain the privacy of all voters. At the same time, they believe that the transparency and ability to verify of blockchain and DLT will increase and expand the public’s trust in the process.

Horizon 2020 is the largest and most well funded European Union Research and Innovation program. It was created in 2014 to ensure the technological competitiveness of Europe. Horizon 2020 aims for Europe to produce world-class science and remove barriers blocking innovation. Finally, the program wants to makes it easier for public and private sectors to work together in delivering needed innovation.

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