In late November, ETHNews reported that e-commerce giant Amazon announced the development of its Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and the Amazon Managed Blockchain.
For those who may not remember, Amazon's QLDB advertises itself as a "transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable ledger" that will allow customers to securely share transaction data between multiple parties with the help of a "centralized, trusted entity."
The Amazon Managed Blockchain, on the other hand, is intended to be a blockchain platform managed by Amazon for companies interested in a cost-effective way to use blockchain technology.
How companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon use the personal data given freely to them by customers is a hotly debated topic. After we reported on the development of the QLDB and the Amazon Managed Blockchain, the question of who would own the information stored on these platforms remained.
ETHNews caught up with Rahul Pathak, general manager of Amazon Blockchain at Amazon Web Services (AWS), to get an answer.
Pathak wants to assure AWS customers that they will retain ownership of any data they put on the QLDB. According to Pathak, users of this platform will be able to choose which AWS services can "process, store, and host content." In addition, Pathak stated: "AWS has no access to customer data and customers can choose to encrypt their data, which makes it meaningless to anyone but them."
When it comes to who will own the data stored on the Amazon Managed Blockchain, Pathak said that, like data stored on QLDB, information put on the Amazon Managed Blockchain will remain the property of the person or company that put said data on the platform. He also stated, "We never use customer content or derive information from it for marketing or advertising."
(Note: While this may be true for AWS customers, it is not true of all information collected by Amazon. According to the Amazon privacy notice, the company does share customer data with "affiliated businesses not directly controlled by Amazon, third-party service providers, and businesses offering certain promotional offers.")
Why Distributed Ledger and Blockchain
When talking about Amazon's reasons for creating the QLDB and the Amazon Managed Blockchain, Pathak stated that the company spent a lot of time speaking with customers about what they wanted in a data storage platform. By conducting these interviews and surveys, Amazon identified two types of customers, each requiring a separate product.
According to Pathak, one customer group wanted a ledger that could be shared among various participating parties – and that could be relied upon to be an immutable, transparent, and cryptographically verifiable transaction log. These customers were happy to work with a centralized, trusted entity to maintain this log.
Amazon found that these customers had sometimes been "using blockchain frameworks," but this meant they dealt with the "unnecessary complexity of setting up multiple peer nodes, dealing with certificates, and setting up consensus algorithms they didn't need." For these customers, Pathak went on, "We built [QLDB] to be an append-only immutable transparent ledger."
While conducting its research, Amazon also found a significant number of customers that wanted an immutable record of transactions but also desired decentralized trust. For this reason, the Amazon Managed Blockchain was developed.
Pathak, unsurprisingly, sang the product's praises:
"The Amazon Managed Blockchain service takes care of provisioning nodes, setting up the network, managing certificates and security, and managing and scaling the network so customers can focus on their applications and not the undifferentiated heavy lifting of keeping a blockchain network running."
More generally, Pathak expects that blockchain will be used more extensively within the coming years, particularly for "transactions that require a consensus across multiple parties, or that need to be stored in a transparent and immutable way." He added that the technology is still in its infancy but he is excited to see the improvements made to the technology and the applications that will be developed in the coming years that will help Amazon's "ecosystem of customers and partners innovate in new and exciting ways."