Open Source Architecture for Data & Digital Rights

Programmable Data Control Architecture

Part 3 of 3 — Smart Data & Digital Rule of Law Series:

  1. Part 1: Creating Digital Rule of Law
  2. Part 2: Smart Data — A Brief Timeline of Intelligent Technology
  3. Part 3: Open Source Architecture for Smart Data and Digital Rights

Data Freedom Foundation is Born

Between 2005 and 2012, I worked as head of product management and later technology at an award-winning digital consultancy and creative agency. We custom-built the first-generation mar-tech and ad-tech platforms. We also contemplated the many risks.

Consent and the Human Experience

We started by looking at consent as a human experience in a holistic manner. We concluded:

  1. Consent must be a defendable, explicit, informed, eternal and unlimited right to control the uses of our accumulated data. Our first blog post Creating Digital Rule of Law, covers this topic in more detail.

An Architecture for Data & Digital Rights

We decided we needed two core distributed technologies, and we propose them as standards:

  1. Distributed Enforcement: Programmatic Data Control & Automation secures our data with keys and access rules we control. We can alter all our data and approved uses via informed consent, as it flows through and is acted upon by external technologies.
Programmable Data Control Architecture

Central Control of Master Data

We consistently and repeatedly see the theme of centralized control paired with distributed enforcement across network devices, storage devices, servers, data centers, and application code. Organizations can set and automatically enforce storage, compute, server, and application code policy constraints. They can change these constraints across all distributed systems by changing a single policy statement from a central location.

  • Each Pod’s data and access rules are fully distinct from those of other Pods.

Data Containers

Data Containers are open-source transferable data files containing a single person’s data and media like images, video, audio, key/pair value store, and relational value store.

Bring Your Own Encryption (BYOE)

As we contemplated the uses of Data Containers in real-world scenarios, intrinsic and undeniable privacy became the most interesting property. We quickly realized data owners could, would, and should encrypt their data with keys they control before placing their data inside their containers for distribution. We now consider this behavior of using one’s encryption unavoidable. It’s very difficult to stop. It’s potentially impossible to stop. Even if we, or others controlling the technology, wanted to prevent this behavior. It’s an unavoidable privacy-preserving property of Data Containers.

Smart Data Contracts

Smart contracts have evolved into sophisticated distributed policy engines often associated with blockchains. Smart Data Contracts build on Smart Contract technology and apply the same ideas to automate data transactions and data agreements. They document data policies, regulations, licenses, terms of use, and user preferences in terms and language software can execute and automate. Regardless of what attorneys call them, these Smart Data Contracts share the same underlying automation capabilities.

  1. Location: Where can I collect and use data about you?
  2. Duration: How long can I store your data?
  3. Aggregation: How may I aggregate data about you?
  4. Identity: What persona are you when I interact with you?
  1. Proxy Entity: With whom can I share information about you?
  2. Proxy Purpose: Under what conditions can I share your data?

Zero Knowledge Proofs

Over the last decade, Zero-Knowledge Proof technology has matured significantly. It enables others to question our data without revealing the actual data. A simple example involves verifying a person’s age and income requirements for a loan without knowing that person’s actual age or income. It allows others to ask our data questions and receive a trusted answer without revealing the actual data. It’s very similar to how humans normally converse by asking and answering questions. But unlike humans, Zero-Knowledge Proofs can be trusted to provide an accurate answer.

Edge Data Controllers

The Edge Data Controller gates and controls all access to Data Containers while automatically enforcing Smart Data Contract terms. Edge Data Controllers are like database executables interacting with Data Containers like database files. They are like data body-guard or intelligent agents scanning and assessing their environment. Data Containers are inaccessible without the cooperation of an Edge Data Controller providing secure key distribution and gating all data interactions per the terms of the attached Smart Data Contract defining the terms of the by Zero-Knowledge Proofs.

Call to Arms

Taken together, our architecture and proposed standard enable unprecedented data self-awareness. It creates a new era of data agility, distributed and dynamic data architectures, distributed data automation, intelligent and automated personalization, trustable data security, and provenance everywhere data flows and grows.

We’re just beginning to figure this stuff out

We think we’re on the right track. We think we have roughly the right architecture. There’s still a lot to figure out!

Want to help?

  1. Join the Smart Data Ecosystem and help create Digital Rule of Law to preserve all human rights.
  2. Follow Data Freedom Foundation and Accesr on social media and follow me on Medium. Data Freedom Foundation is on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Accesr is on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
  3. Contact us to get involved — we have many open roles and stock options for early supporters.

Part 1 of 3 — Smart Data & Digital Rule of Law Series

  1. Part 1: Creating Digital Rule of Law
  2. Part 2: Smart Data — A Brief Timeline of Intelligent Technology
  3. Part 3: Open Source Architecture for Smart Data and Digital Rights


  1. Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man
  2. Texas Review of Law and Politics, Modern Lessons fro Original Steps Towards the American Bill of Rights
  3. The Solid Project



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Alan Rodriguez

Alan Rodriguez


Startup Founder, Inventor, Product Leader, Digital Hunter & Marketer, Data & Privacy Renegade, Philosopher, Digital Humanist