Trust in Distributed Environments

Research Group 17

Algorithmic systems are often publicly associated with a lack of transparency and a loss of human control. At the same time, networks like Bitcoin and its offspring enjoy unprecedented popularity. Being transparent both with respect to their inner workings and the data stored within them, such decentralized systems promise to abolish middlemen and trusted authorities and to thereby foster radical grassroots solutions.

The research group conducts interdisciplinary research on the following and related questions, drawing on expertise from computer science, law, sociology and economics:

  • Are such systems actually empowering users?
  • How is trust built and structured in distributed environments?
  • What are the implications of algorithmic rule enforcement, a feature inherent to most popular decentralization approaches?

More specific research interests include:

  • Monetary policy in decentralized financial systems
  • Automated contracts, algorithmic decision making and consumer welfare
  • Development processes of blockchain-based systems
  • Data storage on blockchains: legal challenges and technical solutions
  • Security and trust in public systems like Ethereum, Bitcoin and Stellar


Research Group Members



Pernice, I./Henningsen, S./Proskalovich, R./Florian, M./Elendner, H./Scheuermann, B.: Monetary Stabilization in Cryptocurrencies – Design Approaches and Open Questions, to appear in IEEE Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology, 2019

M. Florian, S. Beaucamp, S. Henningsen and B. Scheuermann, “Erasing Data from Blockchain Nodes”, to appear in: IEEE Security & Privacy on the Blockchain (IEEE S&B) 2019. Preprint

S. Henningsen, D. Teunis, M. Florian and B. Scheuermann, “Eclipsing Ethereum Peers with False Friends”, to appear in: IEEE Security & Privacy on the Blockchain (IEEE S&B) 2019.

Beaucamp, S./Henningsen, S./Florian, M. (2018): „Strafbarkeit durch Speicherung der Bitcoin-Blockchain? Ein Lösungsversuch aus technischer und rechtlicher Sicht“, In: Multimedia und Recht (Verlag: C.H. Beck), Ausgabe 8, S. 493–564, München August 2018. Summary


Statement to the Online Consultation on the Blockchain Strategy of the Federal Government of Germany, März 2019.

Articles for Der Kontext, topic: Blockchain, 2018.

Public talks (selection)

Becker, M.: “Democracy in crisis? What is the problem and does it need assistance?”, Blockchain for Social Good: Blockchain-assisted democracy, Berlin, 21.05.2019.

Becker, M.: “Blockchain and the Promise(s) of Decentralisation: A Sociological Investigation of the Imaginaries of Blockchain”, 18th Annual STS Conference Graz. Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies, Graz, 06.05.2019.

Henningsen, S./Pernice, I./Proskalovich, R. (Vortrag): “Understanding Monetary Stabilization In Cryptocurrencies. Approaches, Promises, Risks”, 3rd ForDigital Blockchain Workshop, Karlsruhe, 14.02.2019.

Beaucamp, S./Florian, M. (Vortrag): “Liability of Operators of Full Nodes for Data on the Bitcoin Blockchain”, Blockchain Nights (BCN), Berlin, 12.12.2018

Pernice, I.: “Stablecoins: In 5 minutes from Buzz to Structure”, 2nd Berlin Conference on Crypto-Currencies in a Digital Economy, Berlin, 29.11.2018

Beaucamp, S./Florian, M. (Vortrag): „Warum Blockchains vielleicht doch nicht den Staat und das Rechtssystem ersetzen werden“, Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften, WZB, Berlin, 9.6.2018. rbb-Interview

Florian, Martin (Vortrag): „Blockchain für Medien. Trustbroker, Distribution oder lediglich ein Thema?“, MEDIA CONVENTION, Berlin, 4.5.2018. Aufzeichnung

Henningsen, S. (Workshop): “Inefficiencies in the P2P-Overlay-Management in Ethereum and possible solutions”, 2nd ForDigital Blockchain Workshop, Karlsruhe, 1.2.2018.

Henningsen, S. (Vortrag): “Blockchain forks from tech and finance perspectives“, Blockchain Nights (BCN), Berlin, 2.11.2017

Organized events (selection)

Blockchain Nights (BCN), every 1-3 months since 2017

2nd Berlin Conference Crypto-Currencies in a Digital Economy (CCConf 2018), 29.-30. November 2018

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