Dawn Song, a Berkeley computer-science professor, is the founder of Oasis Labs, a start-up which aims to overcome some of the privacy problems faced by companies with the help of blockchains. Oasis Labs has already tested some of its ideas by helping install a new privacy safeguard platform at Uber.
In particular, the start-up helped build and deploy an open source tool that limits how much Uber employees can learn about individual customers by analyzing rider data. This tool is based on a technique called differential privacy, which is specifically designed to protect individuals’ identity. In this way, when employees query a database to summarize recent rides in a particular area, algorithms assess the risk that the request will leak information about individuals, and immediately add “random noise” into the data to completely avoid that risk.