Zero Problems with Zero Knowledge?

Understanding Zero Knowledge Proofs from the Perspective of EU Data Protection Law

Zero-knowledge proofs are an innovation that may profoundly change how data is processed and shared. In essence, these techniques allow a party to prove that something is true without revealing any additional information. This data-starved form of conveying information comes with the promise of enabling the true anonymization of personal data (contrary to what is usually the case today) and offer a form of ‘programmable privacy’.

In our presentation, we will provide a brief, and critical, introduction to zero-knowledge techniques and share our preliminary thinking about their legal relevance, particularly from the perspective of European data (protection) law. We’ll offer a detailed analysis from the perspective of specific provisions of EU data law and close our reflections by pondering the relationship between data law and innovation, specifically asking what the role of data protection law is if zero-knowledge techniques (or indeed any future innovation) realize their promise.

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