ISOC-BSIG Contributes to ITU’s Open Consultation on OTT

October 4, 2017

The Internet Society Blockchain Special Interest Group (ISOC-BSIG) successfully submitted a paper as a contribution to ITU Open Consultations on Over-the-top (OTT). The submitted paper was co-authored by ISOC-BSIG members Judith Hellerstein (USA), Mohamed El Kandri (Canada), Renata Aquino Ribeiro (Brazil), Hosein Badran (Canada) and Michael J. Oghia (Serbia).

Several of the authors have participated remotely in the open consultation meeting that took place on 18 September 2017 (See meeting documents and webcast archives).

This effort has been recognized and appreciated during the last official ISOC-BSIG meeting that took place on September 28th. In the call, Judith and Hosein provided a brief summary of the presentation and interventions by ISOC-BSIG members Mohammed, Judith and Hosein.

The paper argued that emerging blockchain technologies can play a pivotal to achieve global and fair accessibility of OTT content, and spur its sharing and creation around the world. The authors stressed the potential of blockchain in this area as relevant and varied. with the following being among the potential users of blockchain technology:

  • Record labels/Publishers – they can trace their productions utilizing the distributed ledger technology and decrease copyright infringement. An example is the “Proof of Existence” service, which utilizes the blockchain protocol.
  • Independent users – can produce and publish contents via a peer-to-peer network and monetize their production through licensing using blockchain (e.g., MusicCoin in Canada).
  • Democratic citizens – can improve transparency by empowering freedom of expression, providing anonymity using protocols like zero knowledge proof.
  • Smart agents (such as autonomous cameras) – can be connected to the blockchain ledger, provide content via the Internet, and monetize autonomously.

When it comes to regulatory matters connected to blockchain use in OTTs, the paper suggested that relevant authorities should ensure that policy guidelines regarding blockchain and other innovative services are aligned with the country’s national broadband strategy to achieve maximum productivity with limited risks. 

The contribution also brought up the privacy concern that emerges of OTT giants like YouTube’s utilization of users’ information and patterns to train their artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. ISOC-BSIG’s paper pointed to the need to maintain the development of more OTT applications while simultaneously transferring power back to the users

This, according to the authors, can be achieved through (1) its distributed application to ensure that the users’ information is not centralized in one server, and (2) because it is highly encrypted using cryptographic keys. For instance, nodes can conduct exchanges in the Bitcoin network using a public key that cannot reveal the identity of the parties involved in any transaction.

Additionally, the paper argues that blockchain technologies can be leveraged to provide self-sovereign identity management systems on top of the OTT applications. Systems that can provide end users with full ownership of their own information. It can also improve the ability to trace how the information is exchanged among OTT service providers or other third parties, whether traditional or autonomous, in a trusted distributed network.

The paper noted how blockchain technologies can be of great help to achieve distributed partnership models. A great example is the R3 consortium in the financial industry – a group including more than 80 banks, financial institutions, regulators, trade associations, professional services firms, and technology companies – that uses distributed ledger technology to enhance the interoperability of financial technology platforms and reduce inefficiencies and risk. Such partnerships can provide the opportunity to improve the service offerings and democratize the access to the over-the-top these services to more beneficiaries.

You can click here to access the official ITU page highlighting ISOC-BSIG’s contribution with access to the full paper, which was included as part of the event