Cybernetica Granted Funding from DARPA to Enhance Zero-Knowledge Proofs for Governmental Applications

Cybernetica was granted funding by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) under PROVENANCE (PROofs and Verifications between governmENts ANd CitizEns) project to bring value to communication between the public and private sector by creating techniques for constructing meaningful zero-knowledge proofs. The goal is to improve government’s interactions with citizens, companies and other governments by enabling them to confidentially handle sensitive data.

The core of zero-knowledge protocol is privacy preservation of sensitive data. Zero-knowledge proofs are needed when one party wants to prove another a fact of knowing something without revealing any sensitive data or information. It would be easy to prove the knowledge by showing actual data, but often this behaviour is not legitimate nor desired. Zero-knowledge proofs enable citizens and companies to create both positive and negative statements, so that sensitive data will remain hidden from other parties, but the knowledge of the data can still be verified.

“We foresee the increase of privacy-enhancing technologies in both governmental and corporate systems. For that reason, we are adding zero-knowledge proofs to our privacy technologies portfolio which already includes the secure computing system Sharemind,” explains Dan Bogdanov, Member of Board at Cybernetica.

The first key objective of PROVENANCE is to build proof structures that capture real-world settings, without unreasonable simplifications. This means developing new data encoding techniques and proof structures that make the verification of a proof meaningful in the real world. A further goal is to select a proof system where the deployment fits the number of stakeholders and their trust. Once the proof structure and system are known, a tool is needed to translate the statement into the underlying cryptographic constructions.

“We are extremely honoured to have earned the trust by DARPA for applying zero-knowledge proofs and increase their uptake in public domains. Our long-term goal is to validate the system with various processes between citizens and governments, including e-governance. In the future, we are aiming at GDPR compliance related examples which will prove that processes which have produced a result have the components with the functionality and intents demanded by GDPR, as well as the consent forms of all the involved parties. This way we can add an extra layer of trust,” says Peeter Laud, Senior Researcher at Cybernetica. He also mentions that some more data-oriented examples of the forthcoming work will be proofs that there exists legal evidence for someone’s innocence.

PROVENANCE project is funded by the SIEVE (Securing Information for Encrypted Verification and Evaluation) program. The goal of the program is to enhance the state-of-the-art of zero-knowledge proofs targeting governmental applications. PROVENANCE project will last from 01.04.2020 to 01.04.2024.