Towards Large-Scale and Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing in COVID-19 Pandemic: A Blockchain Perspective


During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an unexpected surge in demand for applications that track activity and provide location-based services by employing short-range Communication (SRC) strategies. This demand is particularly strong for automated contact tracing. The public and the policy community are paying increasing attention to related practical problems, including 1) how to protect data security and location privacy. 2) How can SRC Internet of Thing (IoT) witnesses be deployed in a way that is both efficient and dynamic in order to monitor large areas? In this paper, we propose a decentralized and permissionless Blockchain protocol that we call Bychain. The goal is to answer the questions that were raised. To be more specific, 1) a privacy-protecting SRC protocol for activity-tracking and a corresponding generalized block structure are developed by connecting an interactive zero-knowledge proof protocol and the key escrow mechanism. This allows for tracking of user activities without compromising their personal information. As a direct consequence of this development, the connections that previously existed between an individual's identity and the ownership of on-chain location information have been decoupled. In the meantime, the person who owns the location data that is stored on the chain can still claim ownership of it without disclosing the private key to anyone else. 2) It is proposed that an artificial potential field-based incentive allocation mechanism be used to encourage Internet of Things (IoT) witnesses to pursue the maximum monitoring coverage deployment. Using Bluetooth 5.0, we created a working version of the proposed Blockchain protocol and conducted an evaluation of it in the real world. The amount of storage space, the amount of CPU time used, the amount of power consumed, the amount of delay in time, and the level of security are all factors that are evaluated. It has been demonstrated that the experiment and security analysis together offer a real-world performance evaluation.

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