Insights Network ICO Review – Computation on Encrypted Inputs

Guest post by @festfacet on Twitter


Pioneering blockchain-based market research, The Insights Network’s unique combination of blockchain technology, smart contracts, and secure multiparty computation enables the individual to securely own, manage, and monetize their data.


A little-known issue in today’s online focused society is data brokers and their collection of data of people frequenting the internet. Everyday people’s internet habits are being monitored, and the data collected. Very few realize that these organizations profit off these data by packaging and selling them to big corporations, who can then use them to tailor their ads, products and so forth to the consumers. There’s few legal protections against this practice, especially in the US.

Another problem with this model, is having large amounts of incredibly sensitive personal information stored in centralized data bases. Several of these large data brokers has suffered substantial hacks in the past, amongst others Acxiom and recently Equifax suffered one which exposed personal data of more than 140 million Americans.
Insights Network aims to build a superior platform for market research via Blockchain and Secure Multiparty Computation.

The goal is to put control and monetization of the generated data back into the hands of the consumer.

Forbes estimate the industry to account for 200 billion a year and large growth is expected in the industry, around 10-15% compounded annual growth rate is being speculated from several different sources. The logical conclusion is that, the market is set to expand rapidly in the coming years, as more and more industries will look to take advantage of the predictive ability of big data.




As can be seen from the illustration, the aim here is to create a decentralized ecosystem, where data providers (regular people) and data requesters (generally companies or other larger data users) can sell and buy data from the desired segments.

This will be achieved via the Blockchain (verifying transactions, storing the data decentralized) and Secure Multiparty Computation (securing and encrypting the data). This comes to be through a collaboration of Insights Network with Partisia.

The goal is to implement Partisia’ SMC platform, which has been developed for 10 years, with the blockchain, and then running it on the EOS network.

In short, SMC allows you to compute on encrypted numbers. In theory this shouldn’t be possible, but SMC belongs to a new kind of cryptographic solution, which allows a number of parties to jointly perform computation on private inputs, without releasing information except what has been agreed to. This differs from the traditional approach of putting encrypted data on the blockchain, where it could, potentially, be brute forced with future technology.

This, in combination with the blockchain creates a system, which can be verifiable, decentralized and secure from data breaches.

This also creates a more flexible system, where users are rewarded for keeping profiles up to date, taking questionnaires, and where everyone can request a survey from exactly the demographic and about what ever topic they need.

The exact specifications can be found in the white paper, but basically the goal is to create a proof of authenticity, which proves the provider is who the person says they are, but with complete anonymity to the user.

This means that both parties get what they want, without the sacrifice of security or anonymity.


Token Sale

At first glance, the tokensale seems to be a bit light on the tokens distributed to the public. This could be concerning but bearing in mind that 30% is minted for the customers in exchange for the actual data, which will make the ecosystem work and only 5% is sold presale with bonuses given out, it’s actually fairly well balanced.

The small presale and bonuses coupled with the quick release of the beta, also makes the classic post-ICO dump unlikely. This usually occurs when whales and other large investors have been given massive discounts on tokens in presales, and then dump them straight away for free money.


The 22 million cap is reasonable for the scope of the project, and leaves space for an easy 3-5x in relatively short order, if the ICO can deliver on their promises.


Team Highlights


Brian Gallagher

Co-Founder and CEO.

Brian has previously worked on scaling companies through seed rounds and running them, with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Finance, Entrepreneurship at Arizona State.

The whole founding team of CEO, BD (Darwin Lo) and CTO (Brandan Zaucha) are alumni of Y-combinator, which is a renowned incubator of startups, which has previously worked on other blockchain ventures, such as the successful Request Network.

Founding team can be interpreted as a bit light on experience, but should be able to leverage their Y-combinator connections, vast advisor staff and experienced partners to their advantage.

As previously mentioned, they are partnered with Partisia, which is Danish company with a specialty in cryptography, business economics and software development. They have been working on a platform since 2008, which is fully operational and in use with several brought scale business solutions already.


Kurt Nielsen

CEO and co-founded Partisia, and He holds a PhD in Business Economics and did combined graduate studies at the University of Copenhagen, University of Toronto and UC Berkeley. Since 2004 he has co-initiated numerous projects combining computer science, economics and businesses.


Jesper Buus Nielsen

One of the top cited and most published researchers in secure multiparty computation. Jesper’s primary research areas are implementing secure multiparty computation in practice. Co-founder of Partisia and Sepior.

Partisia and their team of specialized software engineers will help implement SMC with the Insights Network platform.

Michael Bax has previously worked as a Facebook software engineer, and will be the lead developer of smart contracts for the project.

They are also partnered with Quantstamp, who are going to be auditing their code and distributing 4.5 million INSTAR tokens through their airdrop program in 2018.

This will be positive for the visibility of the project and the Quantstamp, project in itself, is very positive for the ecosystem, as security obviously is one of the foremost problems in the cryptosphere. This, in turn, reflects well on the project, as they are dealing with sensitive data, which needs to be optimally secured.

The Insights Network team is well rounded, containing employees, partners and advisors both strong in marketing, coding, blockchain and investing categories.

This should insure a well-run operation, where no single aspect drags down the overall success and health of the company.


The Good

What makes this whole setup work, in particular is the partnership with Partisia – due to them having an infrastructure, which can be built upon right away, and implement blockchain on this, means they are from the onset much further along than many of their competitors.

At the same time, to limit the abuse of unregulated customer data, governments are cracking down on the traditional data brokers. EU has enacted the General Data Protection Regulation, Brazil prohibits transmitting data to other parties containing Personally Identifiable Information, in the US Senator Edward Markey is sponsoring a bill called the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2017. More are expected to follow suit.

The fact that it’s build on EOS shows, that the founders are very conscious about the issue of actual real-world implementation of the protocol and the very prevalent problem of scaling, especially when involved with encrypted data, which makes computational requirements even larger. All too often projects become more of a pipe-dream which sounds great on paper, but it becomes clear that they would never work in the real world. This is not such a project.



The Bad

There’s a lot of competitors in the space. It’s an obvious use of the blockchain, and many others are looking to get into the market. Datum and Datawallet are noteworthy competitors, but Insights Network has the better solution to the data encryption problem than both, at least on paper.

As well as being an advantage, building on a yet to even release platform, carries significant risk. What happens if a roadblock in the development happens, EOS doesn’t get adopted or other unforeseen circumstances occur?

Insights has partially covered themselves in this regard, as the code is written in C++, which means it can run on the Ethereum network as well. This would of course come with likely scaling problems, but a situation like this wouldn’t completely halt the project.

A large enough segment needs to adopt Insights network for it to become a viable place to transact. How the team has chosen to tackle this problem, is by minting 30% of the INSTAR tokens to be distributed to people, who choose to become data providers. More providers will attract more requesters, if the system works better than the traditional systems of gathering data.

When judging a project, I often try and determine if it will have a crucial role in the crypto ecosystem. If this is the case, the project will naturally grow from the network effects of increased crypto adoption. This isn’t the case for Insights Network. That, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t be a successful project in its niche – which is arguably one of the more needed implementations of blockchain technology in the real world at the moment.



This is one of the better projects so far in 2018. The scope is smaller, but specialized and can be expanded upon. It’s also in an area where a blockchain implementation can actually be useful and important, unlike most projects, where blockchain is being crammed into a spot where it doesn’t fit.

The team is rock solid, and they have obviously thought extensively about how to make the project actually function in the real world.

If the idea of blockchain integrated with SMC and put on EOS, with Quantstamp and Ycombinator backing comes together, you have a very lucrative investment on your hands, be it for a flip or longer-term investment.





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