Global tech giant Cisco has filed a patent application, for a technology solution which will utilize blockchain technology to set up secured group chats. The patent application was filed in December 2017, and has been recently released by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
High profile data breaches, including the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica issue, have once again brought the spotlight on the security of our data on online platforms. We as consumers of online platforms such as social media seem to have very little control over our data and the content we share. Additionally, messaging apps don’t have enough security mechanisms to enable tracking who joins a chat group, who leaves, and who gets to see the content we share.
A secured technology solution that allows encryption of the messages, and enables the chat group administrator to keep track of the members added and removed, can help. Cisco has zeroed in on the blockchain technology, due to its promise of decentralization and immutability. Blockchain is a decentralized network, where computers on the network maintain the distributed database in a shared manner, with each computer having the entire information on blockchain. Consensus mechanism in blockchain requires very significant number-crunching done at high-speed, by employing high computational power, and majority of all participating computers need to validate transaction. This ensures immutability.
A summary of the proposed technology solution is following:
- The group chat admin will create the genesis block, i.e. the first block of the blockchain, and add group chat members.
- Subsequent blocks will record addition or removal of members from the group chat.
- The members will have encrypted keys, to be able to send and receive secured messages.
- The technology will allow sending of files and streamed media, in addition to instant messaging, all secured with the encryption key.
The USPTO approval of the patent application is awaited, and it will depend on whether there is any infringement upon any existing patent. When granted, the patent will allow Cisco to earn significant royalty from the developers or businesses who might build secured group chat apps allowing easy tracking features for the group admin.
Cisco, headquartered in San Jose, California, USA, has also been working on the intersection of blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and have another patent application already filed on this. Their work with blockchain conforms with the trend of tech giants increasingly exploring this promising technology, for e.g.:
- IBM is considering their entry into the cryptocurrency space;
- Microsoft is looking to invest in blockchain start-ups in India, through their venture capital (VC) arm;
- Intel has filed a patent application for a technology solution that will leverage intense computational processing involved in blockchain into genetic sequencing.