While it’s been argued before, over and over again, that the concepts behind a crypto-currency like BitCoin or Ethereum or Ripple or LiteCoin might mean the upheaval of the traditional economy, it’s also been argued that it is actually the underlying blockchain technology that implies the change of pace. I disagree.
One can arguably not distinguish a “public ledger of transactions” from a necessary level of “anonymity” associated with the ledger being a public record for anyone to examine. Imagine everyone knew what is in your wallet, or worse — whatever other type of transactions were to be associated with your person or organization.
However, certain types of transactions do require a level of verified authenticity — buying or selling your house is just one example.
This is where implementations based on block-chain technology will have to admit they either angle for complete anonymity (public block-chains) or complete integrity (private block-chains) — pegging the one with the other notwithstanding.
Mathematically speaking, a public block-chain’s integrity is guaranteed by its very public nature, as the “51% of consensus” attack vector is too costly for the benefit it might yield.
A private block-chain’s integrity however is commonly “guaranteed” by a governing party and/or controlling contracts between all parties involved (in the form of a legally binding “side-channel”) — contrary to the nature of decentralized governance, consensus and some of the other Key Selling Points for a public block-chain.
I need not even highlight the residual side-effect of decreasing the attack surface needed to be compromised, for a functional exploit path to exist against a private block-chain.
I’m suggesting that the challenge lies in making publicly available a service based on block-chain technology that both preserves the anonymity in individual records, but allows the general public to verify the authenticity of the records nonetheless. This would basically constitute the very first verifiable, authentic yet anonymous, anonymous yet authentic, ungoverned, decentralized implementation of anything based on block-chain technology. Enjoy!