Interview: Caroline Barelle, TrustChain coordinator

Welcome to the first TrustChain interview! First edition presents Caroline Barelle as the TrustChain coordinator. In this interview Caroline writes about her vision, understanding of the project and provides some key inputs and messages for any applicant. Enjoy!

As the coordinator of the second project under the NGI initiative, why is it important to keep talking about – and engaging more projects and individuals in the topic of a more human-centred internet?

The internet and the digital technologies have become a fundamental part of our daily lives. It has changed the way we communicate, work, share and consume information, leading to profound societal changes and disruption. While they have brought many benefits, they have also created new challenges and concerns especially regarding human rights.  All these years, human values that are at the basis of our physical world have not always been considered in our digital world leading to misinformation, censorship and propaganda, rise of surveillance, identity fraud, privacy breach and more. In a way the Internet and related digital technologies are still in their infancy regarding those aspects and huge progress are still to be made in order for these values to be incorporated. We still have not achieved a fully trustworthy Internet, far from it! So, yes TRUSTCHAIN is my second project as coordinator under the NGI initiative, but if in ONTOCHAIN the consortium and its vibrant ecosystem of innovators are on the good road to achieve better trust in online content handling and trustworthy knowledge/services sharing, there is still a lot to achieve when it comes to digital identity management for example. This is one of the main goals of TRUSTCHAIN and actually the focus of our first Open Call.  TRUSTCHAIN want to give back the control to Human over its data, to support them in sharing right and trustworthy knowledge including data for the right purpose in the right context.


What are the lessons learned so far and what is your opinion about the future of the internet?

Nowadays we can see that regulation and technologies have complex interactions: technologies shape legal development and at the same time laws shape technologies. To my opinion, this is the responsibility of the developers to ensure security, privacy and possibility for the users to make ethical choices through the technology they developed.  For example, with the proliferation of IoT devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning are fast moving digital technologies that do not always considers Human and more specifically data owners’ rights. Today, data becomes an increasingly valuable asset and privacy concerns continue to rise especially when it comes to sensitive data related to human identity. In the future, more intelligent and efficient systems for processing vast amounts of data will appears and thus data sovereignty that is the ability of an individual or organization to have control over their data, including where it is stored, how it is used, and who has access to it, will become even more important. It is still insufficiently considered in emerging technologies, and we have already to take care of that aspects. A regulatory framework is also now evolving at the EU level with eIDAS that should facilitate secure and trusted electronic transactions across Europe while also protecting the privacy and data sovereignty of individuals and businesses. Technologists should thus be aware of this framework when developing digital solution related to digital identity and sensitive data. In TRUSCHAIN we are creating this awareness among our applicants and selected third parties innovators.

In any case, the internet and related digital technologies will continue to evolve, and I believe that it is important today to take care of balancing innovation with responsible use to ensure a positive future for all humans! This is what we intend to achieve in TRUSTCHAIN.


What is novel about the TrustChain in comparison to the previous projects?

I would say definitely the User Centric Approach that will be at the core of our Web3 innovators developments during our 5 open Calls, starting with decentralised digital identity solutions. We aim that each single solutions developed during TRUSTCHAIN include users communities during the whole development cycle from the design till the validation, thus answering to their real needs and supporting them in tackling real problems that they might encounters. This is the only way to ensure full adoption and thus scalability of the solutions. Once again, users should be at the centre of the digital solutions that aims to serve them and thus they should be part of their creation.


Who should be at the core of the TrustChain ecosystem? What are you aiming to build with this project?

TRUSTCHAIN intends to implement a new trustworthy data governance and data sharing model in line with the European regulatory framework and taking into account European values to ensure Trusted Data Ecosystems. A portfolio of Next Generation Internet protocols and an ecosystem of decentralised software solutions will be created that reach the highest standards of humanity such as those chartered by the United Nations including the respect of human rights, ethics, sustainability, energy efficiency, our care for the environment and our respect for the World’s cultural history.

Human should be at the core of the TRUSTCHAIN ecosystem. The solutions developed for them will tackle several challenges pertaining to trustworthy and reliable digital identity, to resilient, secure and reliable data pathways, to economics and trading of data, to energy efficiency for data storage, transport and sharing, to seamless services and data flows.

This is what we intend to achieve!


What are the best perks of participating in this project and why is the coaching process particularly important for the project participants?

On top of the funding received to developed their solution, our innovators will have the chance to be part of vibrant web3 community of innovators with the common goal of achieving trust in the Internet. They will de facto gain visibility and be able to foresee opportunities for broader collaboration. TRUSTCHAIN is an EU project with all that it means in terms of branding and being part of such project will ensure for them recognition.

Finally, they will be coached in their activities by recognised experts in their field all over EU. TRUSTCHAIN is all about an ecosystem of solutions that will consider trustworthy and reliable digital identity including resilient, secure and reliable data pathways, economics and trading of data, energy efficiency for data storage, transport and sharing, seamless services and data flows.  To ensure an adequate integration of the technologies/solutions proposed by our selected Web3 innovators into this TRUSTCHAIN ecosystem, coaching will be essential. This will be the means to achieve our common goal. Moreover for developing such an ecosystem, cross cut aspects such as user centric design, legal and regulatory trends, business modelling, standardisation, communication are to be considered that are not always « by default » skills possessed by our innovators. So, they will be coached by recognised experts in different areas so they unlock the full potential of the solution they proposed.    


Any message for future TrustChain applicants?

My main message to future TRUSTCHAIN applicants when drafting their proposal would be « Put you in the shoes of a user’s, imagine and propose your concept as if you were this user, what would be the challenges or problems to solve for him, how it will translate in terms of requirements for your solutions ? what would be then the specifications that should emerged from these needs, from these requirements ? » Do not forget that after all, before being developers you are first users!

In other terms I would encourage you to take a particular care to the co-creation process with users for your TRUSTCHAIN solution.

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