Blockchain, GDPR, and fantasies of data sovereignty

Herian, Robert (2020). Blockchain, GDPR, and fantasies of data sovereignty. Law, Innovation and Technology, 12(1) pp. 156–174.



Like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the broader, mainstream emergence of blockchain technology in the present moment of, what I call, data dysphoria is no accident. It is in part reaction to data dysphoria, and in part exploitation of it, a duality underpinned by the tantalising promise of the prosumer ‘taking control’ of their data and establishing sovereignty over it. Blockchain and GDPR alike aim to resolve ‘problem’/’solution’ matrices with deep roots in a wide variety of global economic, political, social, legal and cultural contexts. This article explores the problem of achieving resolution based on innovation and technology by offering an account of the rise of blockchain and implementation of GDPR within a psycho-political framework, one in which fantasies of taking control are predominant yet highly contestable actualities in the lives of technology users.

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