Scotland’s Edinburgh is now the home to the world’s first ever blockchain identity laboratory, the Blockpass Identity Lab. It is Europe’s first dedicated blockchain research facility. The primary purpose of this laboratory is to research on how blockchain technology can be made use of to ensure online data protection. 

This laboratory was set up as a part of a £600,000 Edinburgh Napier University and Hong Kong-headquartered Blockpass IDN. This lab has been set up at Merchiston Campus of the Edinburgh Napier University. This partnership between the two entities is set for a three-year contract, under which funds will be provided to the support research staff, 5 PhD students as well as for setting up a virtualized blockchain environment.

This lab will research towards tackling key challenges when it comes to protection of data online. Moreover, it will also work towards the development of new data structures which can ensure better privacy as well as respect the rights and the consent of online users. Kate Forbes, the Scottish Minister for the Digital Economy commented on this partnership, saying:

“This exciting work to explore how blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers carries on the tradition of innovation and excellence exemplified by John Napier, the Scottish mathematician who is best known for his invention of logarithms and who is credited with bringing the decimal point into common use. It is fitting that this tradition of innovation is continuing in the university which is named in his honour.”

The plans for this laboratory were first announced in April of this year. Hans Lombardo, who was the Chief Marketing Officer of Blockpass, had commented that online data breach scandals have been increasing and there is a great risk of storage of personal information in the online space. 

A number of events are being held at the campus to mark the launch of this lab. These events include a conference on cryptography, blockchain and digital identity and a hackathon event where the participants would be developing prototype applications focusing on blockchain technology and protecting digital identity. 

The Minister of Digital Economy further commented:

“This collaboration is a great example of the type of partnerships which will help to ensure that Scotland has an innovative, world-class cyber security goods and services industry – an aim the Scottish Government and its partners are actively supporting through the publication of Scotland’s Cyber Resilience Economic Opportunity Action Plan.”

This development comes at an interesting time - as data protection and identity over the blockchain network is being tackled in other places across the world too. When it comes to protection of data, the Government of Sierra Leone is working in partnership with two United Nations agencies and a non-profit firm Kiva to come up with a system that will provide their citizens with digital wallets as well as access to who can see their credit history, thereby improving the banking as well as data protection system in the country.