Baidu Could Add Blockchain to its Cloud

Photo by Simone Brunozzi under CC BY-SA 2.0
Tracking Big Tech through the lens of patent filings.

Baidu wants to keep your data locked down. It might start using blockchain to do so. 

The Chinese search giant filed a patent application for a “blockchain-based data verification” system for cloud computing and cloud services. Baidu’s system essentially uses blockchain in the context of data security to let users check whether their data has been tampered with.

Here’s how it works: Baidu’s system receives a “data verification transaction request” from a user to check on data they have stored within a “data storer.” The company noted that the data storer in this case can either be a node on the blockchain itself, or a separate data storage system, such as a cloud storage network. 

The request includes some kind of user identification, such as personal information and features of the data they’re checking on (ie, a serial number of the data block), to ensure that the user requesting access actually has permission to gain it. In response to receiving this data request, the system instructs a blockchain network to check whether or not your data is safe. 

Using blockchain in this context could allow for the creation of an immutable record of all the times that a user has made requests related to their data. Baidu said this system also allows for reliable data verification without having to release the data itself to the user.

Photo via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

As a China-based company, Baidu is barred from working with cryptocurrency, as crypto transactions and mining were banned in the country in September 2021, with officials claiming it “seriously endangers the safety of people’s assets.” While crypto is the most popular use case for blockchain, it’s far from the only way the tech can be put into practice. If Baidu and other Chinese companies are interested in blockchain, the country’s regulations force them to “find those greater use cases,” said Jordan Gutt, head of Web 3.0 at The Glimpse Group. 

Like its US equivalent Google, Baidu has a robust cloud services unit where tech like this could be put into practice, helping users verify that the data stored within Baidu’s cloud network hasn’t been tampered with. However, blockchain networks themselves can provide data storage, said Aaron Rafferty, co-founder of StandardDAO

“Blockchain as a technology, you could think of it as a next iteration to cloud,” said Rafferty. “It’s a very trackable and transparent technology. From a company approach, it’s definitely something that Baidu would benefit from having in its system.” 

The immutability and security of blockchain has major benefits in data security, with Baidu’s system being just one example. Identity management firm Okta has also dabbled with blockchain, seeking to patent a technique to deliver one-time passwords via blockchain for multi-factor authentication.

Plus, one type of data that the tech firm is likely intent on keeping safe is AI training data, Gutt noted. This system could “use blockchain to verify the integrity of data used in training models, making sure that the data is genuine and hasn’t been tampered with,” Gutt said. Given that AI is a major priority for Baidu, using blockchain to protect it sounds par for the course.

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