IGF 2018 DC Blockchain: Blockchain for Social Good

Salle IV

DC on Blockchain Technologies

Panel - 60 Min


This session will explore the potential for blockchain technologies to be used to advance new solutions to many of the difficult problems facing our global society. Projects are in production for use of blockchain to provide identity documents to refugees and asylees, advance financial inclusion, and support efforts to respond to climate change, among others. Many such projects have received significant attention and funding. Recently, the press and former government officials have questioned how much of the excitement around such projects is hype and how much offers real potential to effectuate change. This session will explore the landscape of blockchain for social good projects and attempt to map out initial best practices for separating the hype from concrete projects making a difference for the most vulnerable globally. In particular, we will consider how decentralized blockchain governance can contribute to enabling these usecases, or, on the other hand, detract from them.


Carla L. Reyes, Michigan State University College of Law; Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Constance Choi, COALA

Primavera de Filippi, CNRS Paris, COALA, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University


Moderator: Carla L. Reyes, Michigan State University College of Law; Speakers: Primavera de Filippi, CNRS Paris; Maria Gomez, Aragon; Pindar Wong, VeriFi; and Rick Dudley, Vulcanize. 

Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

IGF 2018 Long Session Report
DC on Blockchain Technologies Session

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): DC Session on Blockchain Technologies

- Title:  Decentralized Governance in Blockchain-Based Systems and its Relation to Blockchain for Social Good

- Date & Time: November 14, 2018 at 13:00-14:00.

- Organizer(s):
Carla L. Reyes, Michigan State University College of Law (Civil Society)
Primavera De Filippi, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (Civil Society)
Constance Choi, Seven Advisory (Civil Society)

- Chair/Moderator:
Carla L. Reyes, Michigan State University College of Law (Civil Society)

- Rapporteur/Notetaker: 
Constance Choi, Seven Advisory (Civil Society)

- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):
• Maria Gomez, Aragon (Technical Community) (female)
• Pindar Wong, VeriFi (Government) (male)
• Rick Dudley, Vulcanize (Technical Community) (male)

  • Primavera de Fillipi, CNRS Paris (Civil Society) (female)
  • Constance Choi, COALA (Civil Society) (female)

- Theme (as listed here): Emerging Technologies

- Subtheme (as listed here): Distributed Ledgers - Blockchains

- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

1. Session participants examined the implicit and explicit governance and design elements present in existing blockchain technologies and decentralized systems and will explore the trade-off decisions communities engage in when selecting certain governance and design elements, and the benefits and costs of those trade-offs.
2. Session participants discussed best practices in rooting out the values inherent in each governance and design choice and exploring the resulting implications for the community and the impact they have on each stakeholder group that comprises that community.
3. Session participants explored whether blockchain governance mechanisms can enable uses for social good, including new practices that better comply with the original ethos of the Internet, and help society more broadly deal with issues related to fake news, digital oppression or digital targeting, or issues of socio-economic disparity in access.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [300 words] Examples: There was broad support for the view that...; Many [or some] indicated that...; Some supported XX, while others noted YY...; No agreement...
There was broad support for the idea that blockchain governance is an increasingly important topic increasingly gaining attention. There was broad support for the idea that the Dynamic Coalition on Blockchain Technology should consider blockchain governance and weigh in on the issues. Further, there was support for the position that although blokchain technology enables decentralized governance, decentralized governance is not the same thing as the decentralization of power. Thus, governance mechanisms are important aspects of acccess and control in blockchain technology. There was also broad support for the idea that blockchain technology allows new and emerging forms of governance but that if ecosystem participants are not careful they may end up re-creating existing exploitative systems of power.
There was discussion around the idea of replacing institutions with software, and a call to action by the panelists for participation from attendees in helping the blockchain ecosystem self-govern well.
- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [200 words]
In response to audience questions about creating a protected space for experimentation with blockchain governance and questions of liability for governance decisions, the panel introduced a new dynamic coalition project on the interface between blockchain-based systems and the legal systems of the world. The Dynamic Coaliton asked participants in the session to join in this new work, and to help resolve questions about protected experimental space and the need to avoid capture of blockchain goernance by outside actors.
- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [150 words]
The Dynamic Coalition will hold workshops thorugh the intersession year 2018=2019 that seek  to ellucidate the issues raised in the panel, including the building ofa final report on this idea of legal-code interfaces.
- Please estimate the total number of participants. 48 participants in addition to the panelists and moderator.
- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present. 27
- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]:  The panel did not discuss gender issues.
- Session outputs and other relevant links (URLs):