Guidance Doc

An Ethereum Guidance Document


Authored by: Ethereum Foundation
Purpose
This document is intended to complement and clarify the Presidio Principles, in particular around the development of applications based on public, permissionless blockchains including Ethereum.

Following this guidance is not mandatory to participate in the Ethereum ecosystem, which consists of open-source software and decentralized applications, among many other elements. Rather, they are suggestions for how organizations can operationalize participant-centered approaches to their technology developments.
The Ethereum Foundation’s Vision

Ethereum is a global, open-source platform for decentralized applications. On Ethereum, anyone can write code that controls digital value, runs exactly as programmed, and is accessible anywhere in the world. The Ethereum Foundation (EF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Ethereum and related technologies. The EF is part of a large ecosystem of organizations, individuals, and companies that support Ethereum. Its mission is to do what is best for Ethereum’s long-term success, and its role is to allocate resources to critical projects, to be a valued voice within the Ethereum ecosystem, and to advocate for Ethereum to the outside world.

Guidance

There are notable differences between public, permissionless blockchains including Ethereum, and private, permissioned Ethereum-based or other blockchains, which give rise to varying considerations on transparency, privacy, and accountability for application developers. The purpose of this guidance is to complement and clarify the Presidio Principles, in particular around the development of applications based on public, permissionless blockchains including Ethereum.

Notes on transparency & accessibility - the right to information about the system

Decentralized systems tend to be inescapably more complex than centralized systems, and it is unrealistic to expect all individual users to fully understand a decentralized system. Therefore, developers of decentralized applications, through following transparency and accessibility guidelines provided by the Presidio Principles and through open sourcing designs, should allow the community access to information needed to understand the system and leverage the community in increasing the understanding of such applications.

Notes on privacy & security - the right to data protection

Participants in decentralized applications that store data on public blockchains should be able to understand the feasibility of limiting data collection and also understand that, while privacy-preserving technologies exist today, any data that has been disseminated directly through a public decentralized system (i) will generally be final and (ii) may be accessed or used by anyone for any purposes, including purposes other than originally intended under the decentralized applications. Builders should be clear with users about the benefits and potential risks of decentralized applications and where tradeoffs may exist. Examples include user privacy versus public verifiability, and the natural conflict between immutability of on-chain data and users' right to be forgotten.

Notes on accountability & governance - the right for participants to understand available recourse

For a decentralized application or system, by design there is often no single person or entity that is responsible or has the ability to provide recourse. Therefore, participants should be able to understand that available recourse options may well be limited to the mechanisms that the decentralized application or system has designed in place. Such mechanisms may include, for example, a vote by the governance token holders, and the community at large (possibly resulting in alternate versions of a network).