In anticipation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will go into effect in Europe later this week, blockchain firm Parity has announced that it will stop providing its Parity ICO Passport Service (PICOPS).
The service aimed to reduce the challenges associated with know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance by tying an Ethereum address to information about the individual who controls the private key associated with that address. It allowed companies conducting ICOs (and accepting payment in the form of Ether) to identify their investors, confirming in the process that they had "passed an ID background check" and were not under sanctions.
The service will be discontinued on May 24, a day before GDPR goes into effect. The law is intended to protect the privacy of EU citizens, in part by changing the requirements that companies must meet before they can legally store citizens' personal data.
According to a statement on Parity's website, the forthcoming legal framework "creates new and untested challenges when storing personal information on the blockchain." While the firm could deliver a "GDPR-compliant" version of PICOPS, it has decided to scrap the offering because the process of rebuilding it would be too demanding and the final result would offer "a very limited set of features."
On Twitter, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin described PICOPS as a "potentially very useful service in the ethereum ecosystem" and described its abandonment as "very sad." He went on to suggest that the EU's desire to protect its citizens' privacy conflicts with its goal of preventing entities from transacting anonymously.
Parity has also touted PICOPS as a service that empowers "legal entities" to "make use of smart contracts [also known as EDCCs] while also avoiding interactions with problematic counterparties." This is because the company deployed a PICOPS contract to the Ethereum network which other contracts could call in order to "determine whether a given address has been certified."
Parity had contracted a firm called Onfido to process people's applications for PICOPS certification.