Background

Blockchain technology, a pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, can not only unlock radical improvements across the public and private sectors, but also enable new business and governance models that help enhance security, accountability, and transparency for people worldwide. However, innovation that progresses without sufficient consideration for governance and user protection often leads to undesirable outcomes for individuals, companies and organizations, and society at large.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Blockchain Council drafted the Presidio Principles to help safeguard the promise of this technology. We hope that this document will provide creators of blockchain applications with a baseline for designing systems that preserve the rights of their participants.
A World Economic Forum Project

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
How can individuals and companies build trust and preserve the fundamental values of blockchain technology? To answer this question, the World Economic Forum’s Global Blockchain Council set out to develop a “Blockchain Bill of Rights,” on a summer day in the Presidio of San Francisco. They ultimately became the Presidio Principles: sixteen principles to create a shared baseline for user protection. Read more in our FAQ section.

Media Coverage

Frequently
Asked Questions

Why create this document & why now?

As blockchain projects continue to progress and reach scale, there was a demand for a baseline for what “user protection” actually looks like within the space. There has been optimism about technology in the past -- and it is warranted -- but it is important to note that user protection must happen through intentional design and processes that embed this mindset every step of the way. This is an aspirational document that is intended to set the vision and foundations for building on top of blockchain technology. Long story short, let’s not use blockchain for blockchain’s sake and replicate the mistakes of the past. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis.

Who drafted the document? Isn’t the idea of a Blockchain Council antithetical to the concept of decentralization?

The main drafters of the document were a subset of the World Economic Forum’s Global Blockchain Council, who represented a wide variety of ideologies within the blockchain community, from bitcoin maximalists to enterprise service providers.

The Council was convened to share these ideas and perspectives. The guidance issued in the Principles is not mandatory or enforced in any way. As one Council member put it, they are “not the blockchain police.” As opposed to top-down guidance that may be issued elsewhere, the Principles were designed to be a grassroots effort from actors within the space to define core values around user protection. They were designed through over a year of multi-stakeholder working sessions, community consultations, and a comment period on GitHub. The dialogue across these various ideologies surfaced some core ideas around user protection that actors throughout the ecosystem coalesced around.

Who is the intended audience of the principles?

Simply put, the audience is anyone who is working in blockchain technology. We strongly believe that the individual decisions of everyone from those building the applications to those selling them has an impact on the ultimate trajectory of the technology.

Some parameters on the scope of the principles:
Focused on the application layer;
A high-level document that will have nuances based on the protocol, use case, and vertical;
Global in nature & not anchored on any specific regulatory regime.

What protocol is this designed for? Some of these principles look incompatible with the protocol/use case/vertical I’m working on.

The Principles are designed to be protocol & use case-agnostic.

We are the first to admit that these principles are aspirational. It is unlikely that every blockchain application will hit 100% of the criteria with every user in every scenario – but that’s not the intention of this document. Rather, it is focused on creating the right systems and habits.

Given that there are several nuances to be aware of, we will be partnering with leaders in the space to issue “Guidance Documents” that contain technical, operational, and governance tips for implementing the Principles in more specific contexts.

For each scenario, some Principles will be more relevant than others. However, it’s important to anchor in the underlying idea of the Principles: Are you making the best effort possible to protect user rights?

The Principles are nice in theory, but how do I actually put them into practice?

We encourage you to read through the Resources, which provide some concrete ideas for putting the Principles into practice. If you have any additional ideas, please email them to blockchain@weforum.org so we can update the document & share with others!

Signatory Resources: Overview

Thank you for demonstrating your commitment to building systems that protect user rights by signing onto the Presidio Principles. We want the Principles to be as action oriented as possible, so we have compiled the following resources for signatories:

Email Template
Sample language that you can send your teams to have them sign onto the principles as signatories.

How to Use this Document
Ideas for putting the Principles into practice, based on function/organization type.

Sample Social Media Language
Sample language for sharing the Principles with your communities.

Printable Principles
A print-ready version of the Principles.

Guidance Documents
Specific technical, operational, and governance guidance for implementing the Principles for various ecosystems & verticals.

Want to learn more? Check out our case studies here.