Royal Society: Privacy Enhancing Technology

Royal Society: Privacy Enhancing Technology 2048 2048 StJohn Deakins

Our global digital society is rapidly changing. In the space of a decade, the concept of  “Privacy” has gone from being an essential human right, to being dismissed as an obsolete social norm, to roaring back into vogue as a “new Silicon Valley religion”.

In this context, we are honoured (and just a little excited!) to be cited by the Royal Society as a leading example of Privacy Enhancing Technology (PET) in their new report.

Founded in 1660, the UK Royal Society (original title: The Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge) is the world’s oldest independent scientific academy dedicated to promoting excellence in international science. From Isaac Newton to Charles Darwin to Stephen Hawking, the Royal Society has always been at the forefront of exploring the “new”.  

With the very concept of “Privacy” being in such a state of flux, it’s latest report: Privacy Enhancing Technologies: Protecting Privacy In Practice, is timely to say the least.

With four billion humans connected to the internet (and growing), the choices that we make at the start of this digital era will have a profound impact on the century ahead.  

Digitization will create an exponential abundance of new knowledge. As a global connected society we have a choice. Do we create an opaque world driven by fear (Cambridge Analytica and the Chinese Social Credit System being early examples) or a sustainable digital future in which we can all flourish?

If we wish to live in a world that works for the good of humanity, rather than against it, our individual digital liberty is a fundamental starting place. This means the right to transparency and control over which of our personal data is shared, and why. In short, digital privacy.

The Royal Society report details “potentially disruptive” technologies that could “enable significantly greater sharing and use of data in a privacy preserving, trustworthy manner”.

The report highlights CitizenMe as an early, production ready example of these technologies in the form of “Personal Data Store” technology (note that our community has already grown from 160,000 to over 200,000 since publication). Other essential privacy enhancing technologies included are Homomorphic Encryption (querying a database with data staying encrypted), Multi Party Computation (training algorithms on distributed data) and Differential Privacy (adding data ‘noise’ to personal data that’s shared to ensure anonymity). As they mature, we expect to incorporate all of these technologies into the CitizenMe platform, and we are sponsoring primary stage post-doctoral research to help advance them.   


If you’d like more information, or explore collaboration opportunities, please contact us at

StJohn Deakins

StJohn founded CitizenMe with the aim to take on the biggest challenge in the Information Age: helping digital citizens gain control of their digital identity. Personal data has meaning and value to everyone, but there is an absence of digital tools to help people realise its value. With CitizenMe, StJohn aims to fix that. With a depth of experience digitising and mobilising businesses, StJohn aims for positive change in the personal information economy. Oh… and he loves liquorice.

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