Blockchain & Family Trees

By Kirsty Gordon
Published May 28, 2018 and updated Jan 15th, 2022
Blockchain & Family Trees

A hot topic in the news recently was the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In most relationships, people want to make sure they are not related before they get married, unless cultural preferences dictate otherwise. In the case of UK – and other – royals, royal tradition and culture dictated that marrying within the family was necessary to preserve the lineage. At the very least, royals would marry within established aristocracy, with people that come from families of nobles. The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 was a landmark change of this process. In any case, the media has gone out of its way to reassure the public that King Henry the 6th’s third wife, Jane Seymour, is a common relative of both. This would mean that William and Kate are cousins 17 times removed. This may not be true but there is no way to be sure. With blockchain, it will be easier to follow royal lineage and for commoners, it will make it easier to avoid marrying relatives.

Blockchain Family Trees are Here to Stay!

HUYUcoin is a splendid example of a project building a blockchain for this purpose. “HUYU is a free ancestry platform that will allow a user to interact with family and friends globally. The content on HUYU will be generated by the users themselves and the platform will be ad-free” according to its whitepaper outlining the project and its initial coin offering.

Current ancestry platforms can be expensive to join. They are full of ads and although they do have automatic search features to locate relatives, the process is time-consuming. Many of these sites also only allow users to view details for family members who are already deceased.

These are issues that blockchain family trees will also solve. HUYU have assessed the current product offering and are solving some of these issues already.

Are Permission-Less Blockchain Family Trees that are Free a Problem?

Nevertheless, HUYU’s service will be completely free; it will not have any ads either. When this happens, users tend to be the product, just like the world learned following the Facebook scandal. HUYU state that they will collect ““Big Data” gathered by our launch modules will prove invaluable for all future modules. However, an individual’s user details will never be divulged, and individuals will have the right to “opt in” or “opt out” of all communication. The data collected will be used to determine market and macro trends”

This means that although a permission-less blockchain establishing relationships between people is free and openly available to all, the identities of the people can be encrypted. Nevertheless, this presents a different kind of problem: if one person decrypts their identity, the relationships between them and others who are related would be uncovered in such a way that meta data could end up telling the public more than those people would like to reveal.

Are Permission-Less Blockchain Family Trees a Good Idea?

Dealing with heritage on a blockchain feels novel. There are many benefits to it, like government census data for instance. Tracing relationships between people, the genetic make-up of society for medical purposes and other use cases could be immensely beneficial. However, it can also be used negatively. Given that blockchains – when properly set up – are immutable and censorship free, users will have to be more responsible with the information they upload to them. This might not matter to the royals at all, since everyone already knows who they are, but it seems no one can be too certain about who they are related to.