Layer 1: The Data Protocol

Data is the cornerstone of digital systems. In an increasingly digital world, data has become the lifeblood of our technical, social, legal, and economic structures. However, while data can convey information effectively, it cannot be used to reliably prescribe value. We term this The Data Problem.

The Data Problem has its roots in the problem of scarcity. If you can simply copy or duplicate an asset for essentially zero cost, it has no value (or at least none that can be utilised effectively). Up until now, the solution tried by purveyors or custodians of digital goods (e.g., movies, songs, photos, etc.) is to prevent them from being copied, in order to give them scarcity and therefore value. However, this is doomed to failure (and requires huge technical & legal efforts as well as manpower).

At Zenotta, we believe that scarcity can be achieved in a far better way through uniqueness. Making an asset provably unique gives it true scarcity, and thus true value. The Zenotta data protocol is able to assign one or more identities to an asset uniquely and automatically on a machine level.

The data protocol converts a file of any type into Smart Data

The Decentralised File Format

The ZDP converts any file of any type into a decentralized, Smart Data file consisting of three parts:

1) A cold-stored file (CSF)

An encrypted, encoded file that is under the possession of the owner of the Smart Data.

The CSF lives either on the owner's machine or in their cloud storage. This file cannot be decoded without the DRS (part 2), and cannot be decrypted without the encryption key pair (part 3).

2) A data rights signature (DRS)

The instruction manual, or rosetta stone, that instructs the machine that holds the cold-stored file (CSF) on how to read it.

The DRS is a unique encoding scheme that is recorded on the Zenotta blockchain, which ensures its immutability. Essentially, the DRS is the unique fingerprint, or DNA, of the Smart Data file, which is visible on the blockchain but unaccessible without the encryption key pair (part 3). It is used to decode the CSF that is in the owner's possession. The DRS is machine-readable and zero knowledge, which means that its usage alone does not allow for any party to gain any knowledge about the contents of the file.

3) An asymmetric encryption key pair and symmetric key

A pair of asymmetric encryption keys that sign the DRS on the ledger and a symmetric key that protects the Smart Data content from anyone but the owner.

The symmetric key is held in the owner's wallet, whether this is a wallet on their computer or a hardware version. Once the CSF has been decoded using the DRS, it must still be decrypted by the symmetric key in order to gain useful access to the content. The DRS, which imparts the uniqueness, cannot be moved or spent or in any way transferred without having the asymmetric encryption keys.

Re-inventing cold storage

The cold-stored file (CSF) described above is an entirely new approach to cold storage. Instead of being cold-stored by location, e.g., a secure air-gapped server, the file is cold-stored by state. This means that is can be held anywhere, or allowed to float freely on the internet, while still being secure and exclusively the possession of the owner. Anyone who gains possession of the CSF while it is still encrypted and encoded will find it useless, and the only way to (i) decrypt and (ii) decode the file is to (i) be in possession of the keys and (ii) be the owner of the DRS.