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Blockchain’s potential to maintain a distributed, tamper-proof infrastructure for collective digital reminiscence has taken on an sudden political salience for residents in Hong Kong. 

Quickly after Hong Kong’s public broadcaster Radio Tv Hong Kong, or RTHK, revealed its intent to erase any archived content material over one 12 months previous, residents hurried to save a trove of previous information footage that had till now been freely obtainable to the general public. The explanation for his or her haste was the popularity that RTHK’s archive accommodates essential protection of the current years of anti-authoritarian struggles and protests that have been initially sparked by the introduction of the draconian national security law, in addition to proof of those struggles’ brutal repression.

The combat over the collective file of the previous has lengthy been underway at an official degree, encapsulated by the Hong Kong police’s try and rewrite the narrative of one of the violent and traumatic episodes within the 2019 protests: an indiscriminate assault on civilians on the suburban subway station Yuen Lengthy. RTHK’s neutral protection of that episode can be among the many content material misplaced to oblivion now that incremental deletion is underway.

Towards this backdrop, a blockchain platform that first emerged on the top of the protest motion is now poised to offer residents and activists with the important means to reclaim and protect their current political historical past in its integrity.

The platform, referred to as LikeCoin, is a blockchain-based decentralized publishing infrastructure, which offers a decentralized registry for all method of content material. Its options allow Hong Kongers to coordinate their efforts to archive now-endangered data throughout one distributed and tamper-proof collective database. 

Fairly than storing the information itself, LikeCoin registers the metadata i.e. info concerning the content material’s writer, title, publication date and placement. It additionally stamps every entry with a singular and immutable digital fingerprint: an  International Standard Content Number, or ISCN, just like a e book’s ISBN. 

The platform’s founder, Kin Ko, informed reporters that whereas downloading and saving content material in an ad-hoc method might assist residents to withstand official censorship of historical past to an extent, proving the authenticity and integrity of that knowledge sooner or later can be extra problematic. He defined:

“In case you’re the one that backed it up, you possibly can look by the onerous disk. However what should you’re not that individual? Or what in case your onerous disk has damaged? […] How have you learnt that [backed up] picture is identical picture taken 10 years in the past? How have you learnt there hasn’t been further work performed to it?”

With LikeCoin’s blockchain infrastructure, 10 (or nonetheless many) years from now it will likely be doable to know whether or not or not the content material has been tampered with by monitoring any modifications to its digital fingerprint. In terms of traditionally vital archived video footage, that might supply a clue that the unique file might have been re-edited in a intentionally deceptive method.

LikeCoin makes use of its personal blockchain to keep away from the excessive transaction prices of a community like Ethereum at such a scale. Backing up a rustic’s current political historical past isn’t any small matter. Ethereum had, in a extra restricted context, memorably been used to publish and protect a single letter by Chinese #MeToo activists battling authorities censorship.