Update: This related question focusses on users own data. My question is mostly asked from the perspective where a person may enter someone elses personal data, like someones sexual preference.

In the data world GDPR is currently a very hot topic:

  • personal data must be protected and not retained too long.

For normal companies and systems it is already very difficult to meet the letter of the regulation in practice, however I image that for bitcoin it is even challenging on a much deeper level. Two core principles:

  • Data must be visible by all
  • The full history must be preserved

This brings me to a question:

How does Bitcoin respond to the introduction of GDPR?

And as bonus question:

What does this mean for other blockchain applications (like corporate concepts, not specifically for currencies)

  • 2
    As an aside, the core functions of the bitcoin network are incredibly conservative in regards to adopting changes. So when talking about the GDPR it is important to understand the regulations of one nation (or group of nations) will likely have no affect on the bitcoin network's rules and function. In general, changes to bitcoin are delivered bottom-up, from the users. Whereas regulations are delivered top-down, from the regulators. Bitcoin users and businesses may be subject to GDPR though, so I suppose it is still a discussion worth having.
    – chytrik
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 20:41
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Blockchain and user rights to ask for personal data removal Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 0:44
  • @NateEldredge I have added a comment to focus on a part that most interests me, and is not really addressed in the linked question. I think it is no longer a duplicate. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:49
  • If your use of technology X does not comply with an applicable law Y, you either stop using technology X or pay the fines until jailed. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 15:32

3 Answers 3


How does Bitcoin respond to the introduction of GDPR?

  1. Bitcoin is not a person or legal entity that is subject to law. Only people or businesses using bitcoin have to comply with GDPR.

  2. So far as I know, storage of personal information is not a part of the specifications of the protocols or algorithms that comprise Bitcoin.

  3. Specific pieces of software might allow you to store personal information. For example, wallet software might enable you to keep a list of people, addresses of their bitcoin wallets and your text notes about them. The users are responsible for complying with GDPR. The software writers are only responsible for enabling this compliance (e.g. providing a delete function or something else GDPR compliance needs). The prime reposbility is with the user, if the software they use cannot be used in a way that complies with GDPR they must find other software.


Very simply, if a person stores the personal data of another (or, of their own, or, any data) then the law is upon the first party to comply with GDPR or any other law applicable. Bitcoin itself being a series of independently operated nodes connecting to and accessing a consensus operated immutable public storage medium.

I argue that your own public key (& signatures and, so on, as is related to Bitcoin, created for the purpose, when necessary, of being stored in the blockchain) cannot possibly be considered personal data in the view of GDPR.


The use of Bitcoin is a inherently an opt-in privacy model, versus not an opt-out privacy model. Additionally, Bitcoin stealth transactions can be applied twice to effectively provide sender privacy until secp256k1 cryptography is potentially be broken by factoring. Privacy exposure on public blockchains are essentially forever, there is no recourse.

  • This explains further why the question is not easy to solve, but I don't really see an answer on what is/should be done. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:50
  • There is currently no silver bullet solution; hence, everyone is fretting. Lawyers and consultants also get a nice size window to make tons of money.
    – skaht
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 22:27

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