Giving the morning keynote speech on May 23 at the Consensus 2017 Conference in New York, Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea, co-founders of the blockchain startup Blockstack, announced the readiness of the developer edition of their Blockstack browser.
New York-headquartered Blockstack is a bitcoin blockchain-based browser that seeks to create a new decentralized Internet. As things stand, information and data on the Internet is neither owned nor controlled by the users or clients but is in fact owned by large corporations who facilitate Internet access. Large corporations also own applications as data is stored in the application and, therefore, is belonging to the creator of the application. Applications can also sometimes override or ignore the limitations set on it by the user and have access to more than the user would like.
Along with the privacy issue, the Internet of today is not very secure as data is stored in large servers which if infiltrated compromise the security of all the data stored therein. Also, certificate authorities are not always trustworthy.
“With traditional apps, a secure connection is far from a certainty. Domain names and website certificates are vulnerable to compromise. Reliance on third-party servers and many trusted services makes us less safe,” Blockstack explains.
It is these inadequacies in today’s Internet that Blockstack seeks to remedy. “Data storage is simple and reliable and uses existing cloud infrastructure. Users connect with their Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. and data is synced from their local device up to the cloud. Identity is user-controlled and utilizes the blockchain for secure management of keys, devices, and usernames. When users log in with apps, they are anonymous by default and use an app-specific key, but their full identity can be revealed and proven at any time. Keys are for signing and encryption and can be changed as devices need to be added or removed.”
This is enabled by simply downloading and installing the Blockstack browser. The technology is open source, however, the recent announcement has created the possibility for developers to innovate further on it.
“We are proud to announce the Blockstack browser, which allows developers everywhere to access a whole new Internet. This new Internet changes the dynamic and brings the power back to the people. Developers can build apps on this new Internet by downloading the Blockstack Mac or Linux app (Windows coming soon) and by using nothing more than existing browsers like Chrome or Safari or Firefox.” the co-founders explained.
Ali and Shea also announced the creation of the Blockstack token, which will be used to power the allocation mechanism of the identities on the blockchain. All users who join create a unique name or address which is used for their online identity, data storage, and authentication purposes. For this system to work, scarcity needs to be introduced in tandem with the allocation mechanism. The token will also be used to allow network participants to vote on community protocols such as a move to another blockchain. The token will be introduced later in 2017.