March 23, 2023

Swarm commits 2 million BZZ to drive privacy, interoperability, and data sovereignty

Following years of incubation, the Fair Data Society initiative graduated and moved onto an independent path. With this, Swarm Foundation has pledged 2 million BZZ in the coming 10 years, to champion support for layer 2 projects that empower digital freedom, privacy, and interoperability. The pledge was officially announced at the Fair Data Society graduation event, ‘New Day’ on March 21st 2023.

After the Swarm project was bootstrapped by, and graduated from, the Ethereum Foundation in 2019, the Swarm Foundation was created which incubated the Fair Data Society initiative. Now, the initiative is graduating from Swarm Foundation and itself incubating projects and initiatives.

What is Fair Data Society (FDS)?

The Fair Data Society is an initiative that promotes ethical, responsible, and transparent data practices in the digital era. Its primary goal is to foster a fair data economy, where individual privacy, data sovereignty, and digital integrity are respected and upheld. Fair Data Society envisions a world in which data is recognized as a common good and its usage and sharing benefits everyone, rather than being exploited by a few centralized entities.

Fair Data Society is built on several key principles, which include: user consent, data minimisation, data interoperability, transparency, and accountability. These principles guide the development of technology and business models in the data-driven landscape, helping to ensure that data is collected, processed, and shared responsibly and ethically.

By encouraging collaboration and innovation, Fair Data Society aims to create an ecosystem of projects and organisations committed to its principles. This collaborative approach enables the development of solutions and services that respect individual privacy and empower users to control their own data. By supporting the Fair Data Society initiative, stakeholders contribute to the establishment of a more equitable and ethical data economy that benefits all participants.

Why does Swarm Foundation support FDS?

Developing open, unstoppable, and decentralized technology presents ethical challenges that go beyond mere coding. Although we cannot control how our technology will be used, we can establish positive incentives and examples, aiming to guide the emerging ecosystem towards a future that minimises unforeseen and undesirable uses and behaviors.

The Swarm Foundation team recognised the possibilities that come with this, and has expressed support for the ethically-driven ecosystem initiative, Fair Data Society, since 2019, while it was still part of the Ethereum Foundation.

Fast forward to present-day, the challenges identified back in 2019 appear even more relevant, and the reasons for Swarm Foundation to support the Fair Data Society initiative have only grown stronger. These include:

  • Positive Social Impact: Swarm Foundation aims to create not only a technically effective solution but also one that leads to a positive social impact. Fair Data Society shares this goal by promoting ethical and fair data practices, aligning with Swarm’s mission.
  • Collaboration and Innovation: Swarm Foundation believes in collaboration as a powerful force for innovation. Supporting Fair Data Society fosters collaboration, enabling the development of solutions that respect individual privacy, data sovereignty, and digital integrity.
  • External Ethical Guidelines: Swarm Foundation recognises that organisations should adhere to external ethical guidelines rather than creating their own internal ethics charter. Supporting Fair Data Society and its principles provides Swarm with an ethical framework that is grounded in shared values and beliefs of society.
  • Complementary Roles: Swarm acts as the base layer while Fair Data Society functions as the commons under which individuals and projects self-organise. This complementary relationship strengthens both projects as they collaborate towards a fair data economy.
  • Creating a Fair Data Stack: Swarm Foundation acknowledges the need for a “fair data stack” to unlock the fair data economy with Swarm as the base layer, Fair Data Society as the commons, and businesses guided by ethical guidelines on top. This layered approach facilitates collaboration and optimises synergies among different layers.
  • Addressing Ethics from the Start: Swarm understands the importance of incorporating ethics into the design process. Supporting Fair Data Society ensures that Swarm stays true to its values and considers ethical implications from the beginning, avoiding potential pitfalls or negative consequences.
  • Thought Leadership: By being the first to support Fair Data Society, Swarm Foundation positions itself as a thought leader in the space, steering the wider ecosystem in a fair and ethical direction.

In summary, Swarm Foundation’s support for Fair Data Society is crucial in fostering collaboration, ensuring ethical practices, and promoting positive social impact. By aligning goals and working together, Swarm Foundation and Fair Data Society can contribute to the development of a fair and ethical data economy.

What kind of projects are supported?

Twitter thread:

Donated funds will be used to continue on-going efforts while also supporting new projects. Here are some examples:

  • Fairdrive - a decentralised data drive that gives users a digital safe space and provides developers with a white-label solution for managing user data in a non-custodial way
  • fairOS - a distributed file system on top of Swarm, a key-value store and a multi-index database that acts as a decentralized dApp backend
  • Fair data protocol - a protocol for data interoperability among dApps other decentralized storage networks as interoperability and privacy extend beyond Swarm.
  • The Great Data Upload project - aims to liberate data by putting open datasets on Swarm, enabling access to knowledge in a censorship-resistant way.
  • Fair Data Society DAO development - decentralized governance and purpose-driven communities
  • Fair data ethics research - to further education and dialog about the world and future we all want to live in.

Note: Swarm’s long term support is not limited to above projects and hopefully new projects, aligned on values and ethical principles will emerge.

How will the BZZ be distributed?

Swarm will disburse funds to Fair Data Society in 2 year installments over the course of the next ten years, similar to Bitcoin halvings.


  • FDS treasury multisig can be checked at treasury.fairdatasociety.eth or 0x0B05F37c5E729A783aA9ee91Fe9D5Af802c5a786
  • The “remaining” 31250 BZZ in the tenth year will carry on
  • If the value of donation round at the given time exceeds equivalent of $10m, the Fair data society commits to donate excess funds to other public good projects #payitforward

Today is a new day for the fair data economy to emerge

“The best account that someone can give about themselves is not a statement but a pledge to the principles they value and to the vision of the person they hope to become,” Edward Snowden, Permanent Record

Let’s proceed together apace.

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