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Blockchain and the GDPR: Coexisting in contradiction?


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The recent adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has fundamentally altered the legal landscape in the European Union and beyond with respect to data protection. Organisations that process personal data must ensure their data-processing practices are compliant with the requirements of the GDPR, irrespective of the technology used. The use of new technologies to process personal data can lead to additional complexities from a compliance perspective, particularly where the technology has intrinsic features that appear to be at odds with certain fundamental requirements of data protection law. This is an issue that applies to the use of blockchain technology as key features of the technology do not, at first glance, appear to be consistent with the requirements of the GDPR. While it is accurate to state that the GDPR has created some challenges regarding the adoption of blockchain technology to process personal data, these challenges are not necessarily insurmountable. This paper discusses the most pertinent challenges to the adoption of blockchain technology from a data protection compliance perspective.
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Keywords: Bitcoin; Data Protection Act; EU Data Protection Law; EU law; General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); UK Data Protection Law; blockchain; cryptocurrency; cybersecurity; data privacy; data protection; data protection law; privacy; right to be forgotten

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate, White & Case LLP 2: Partner, White & Case LLP

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • Journal of Data Protection & Privacy publishes in-depth, peer-reviewed articles, case studies and applied research on all aspects of data protection, information security and privacy issues across the European Union and other jurisdictions, in the wake of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the biggest change in data protection and privacy for two decades.
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