Embedding social responsibility in the company’s work became more challenging with the rise of decentralized platforms.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a big encompassing term, but it is generally defined as a movement or business practices aimed at encouraging companies to be more aware of the impact of their business on the rest of society, including their own stakeholders and the environment. The concept has been usually looked upon in the terms of a traditional company, based on the existence of a centralized operational authority. But if we take the term and steer it towards decentralized exchanges and companies that have a distributed system of control with the users on top, we can see a new unaccounted for meaning of CSR.
When smart contracts replace traditional ones, and Blockchain takes power away from hegemonic entities, do we still need to care about ethics and social responsibility? Do developers, CEOs of such exchanges need to care about the actions of the users on the platform?
Centralized exchanges have a set of rules to abide by, KYC requirement, AML compliance, some of the exchanges even do background checks on the incoming team members and advisors. If not explicitly guided by CSR, they are guided by the same strategies. Such exchanges don’t want to be stained by an ill reputation of their employees or by allowing illicit activities on the exchange. They care about the stakeholders: their users, investors, partners, government organizations that they operate under. They do that for a simple reason: maintaining a good clean product profits, the efforts to make sure that everything is by the books is beneficial in the long and short run. Being responsible for a product speaks great volumes about the intentions and credibility of such companies.
In decentralized exchanges, however, it is not clear who is responsible if everything goes down the hill. They do not require KYC or AML, you are not bound by verification rules and that gives freedom. But the question is, “freedom for what?” It gives a path to illegal activities and money laundering. And nobody is taking responsibility for such actions because responsibility is being framed as authoritarianism. No rules, no responsibilities. In the age of decentralization, who cares about the ethics of the product? Blockchain tries to replace it with its revolutionary nature, but the people are still in the center of it.
So, are there no rules on decentralized platforms? And if there are, then who makes them? Some decentralized platforms, like Mastodon – a decentralized social platform — have a set of rules put forth by their developers, others like, WildSpark – a decentralized content sharing platform — do not spell out the rules. So, who should be a watchman? A user or a developer? And most importantly, do we need to enforce rules and be socially responsible in the age of decentralization?
Unchecked power is always a source of abuse, that is why it needs to be balanced.
Using a decentralized aspect of the platform as a shield against accountability reeks of abandonment and neglect of responsibilities towards the communities within and outside. Ternion is a centralized exchange which will add decentralized features later on, one of the reasons for such a structure is because we care of the freedom we give and the responsibilities we uphold.
Originally published on Medium.