Introducing Conclave

February 11, 2021

By: Richard Gendal Brown, CTO at R3

R3 launched Conclave this week, a new platform that makes it easy to build privacy-protecting solutions, through the use of Confidential Computing. But what is Confidential Computing, why should you care and why is Conclave the platform to watch?

The data sharing dilemma

When you click “submit data” you lose control of your data. But what if there was a technological way to retain control?

Imagine you’re a hospital administrator whose mouse is hovering over the “submit” button. When you click that button some of your patients’ most sensitive healthcare records will be uploaded to a research firm which is performing a clinical trial. You have the patients’ consent; they desperately want to help advance medical science. But you’re still worried.

What would happen if a rogue employee at the research firm stole the data? What if the research firm is using your patients’ data in a way they didn’t agree to? It’s a scary thought.

And it’s not just hospitals. Organizations in all industries face this dilemma every single time they send sensitive data to a third party. The brutal reality is that the moment you send information to somebody else, you’ve just given up any technological control over it.

You’re reliant on privacy policies, goodwill, contracts and law. Those privacy policies that nobody reads? That’s the only thing protecting your most sensitive information when you send it somewhere else!

This is truly terrifying when you think about it. Yet we somehow regard it as normal. “It’s just the way computers work”

Ultimately, when you send data to somebody else’s computer, you’ve handed over full control to them. They could change the algorithms that are running and you would never know. They could take a copy of your data and use it for their own purposes and you would never know. They could give you false results and you would never know.

But what if there was a way that you could know? What if you could know, for sure, what algorithm your service provider was running? What if you could know if it had changed? And what if you could know that your data remains protected at all times so the service provider could not observe or copy it even if they wanted to?

It turns out you now can!

Confidential Computing: protect your data when in someone else’s hands

A new technology called “Confidential Computing” provides the answer.

Confidential Computing allows us to imagine a new weapon in our privacy arsenal: the ability to protect your data even whilst it’s in the hands of somebody else.

Imagine if the hospital administrator could examine the algorithms that the research firm will use before they upload their data, and that not even a rogue employee in the IT department of the research firm could see the patient data or change those algorithms.

Confidential Computing lets us imagine a future where you know, for sure, what will happen to your information after you click the ‘upload’ button.

And this technology isn’t limited to doctors and hospitals. Imagine a multi-national bank can now share data for analytics between its branches located in different jurisdictions, all without worrying about violating privacy laws. Or a group of insurers can detect fraudulent claims by cross-checking against each other’s private client data, yet never revealing what that data actually is.

That’s the future Confidential Computing techniques allows us to imagine.

But there’s a problem: the technology is hard to use and few people even know it exists. 

After all, did you know this future was a possibility before you read the paragraphs above?!

Conclave makes Confidential Computing easy

This is why R3 developed Conclave: to make it easy to use this technology.

Conclave makes it possible for regular developers to write applications that their users can remotely ‘audit’. And Conclave makes it easy for these users to actually wield that power. Conclave makes the promise of “know exactly what will happen to your data when it’s in somebody else’s hands” a reality.

And we at R3 are working with our network of clients and partners to bring Conclave-enabled solutions rapidly to market so everybody can see for themselves how powerful this new technology could be.

Indeed, the insurance scenario I described above isn’t just an idea; ClaimShare is using Conclave to do just that!

Conclave is available as a 60 day trial if you’re an established firm. And if you’re an individual or an early-stage startup, you can use Conclave for free. The new world of Confidential Computing is so big and so under-explored that we at R3 want as many innovators as possible to join us in exploring the potential of this new technological super-power. All we ask is that if take up the free option after any trial you share what you learn by open sourcing your apps so others can follow in your footsteps. The potential of Confidential Computing is awe-inspiring. And Conclave is the key to mass adoption. Join us to make this new world a reality!