The rise of the internet has played a fundamental role in simplifying our lives. However, even with simplified experiences, we’ve met numerous complications. In order to use different tools and platforms on the internet, we’ve had to exchange our personal data. This data is centrally stored and managed on servers owned by service providers. As a result, service providers gain ownership over our data, meaning they could decide to delete it or limit your access to it at any point. For example, if you are a Facebook user, you could lose your entire friend list at any point without getting it back.
But, losing your data isn’t the only threat you face as an internet user. You risk having your data sold to unknown buyers and because this data is centrally stored, there is also a high risk of malicious entities gaining access to it in a hack.
In response to these problems, Web3 is shaping a data-privacy driven future. Let’s explore how.
Why is data collection bad?
Data collection was initially intended for the purpose of creating value. Unfortunately, big tech companies looked away from this purpose and pursued the misuse of user data.
Examples of data misuse cases:
Uber was discovered to have a “God View” tool which allowed employees to track the location and movements of its app users without their permission. At a launch party in 2011, Uber released this information and gave their party attendees access to the tool. One of the attendees recognized half of the Uber users she was tracking and decided it would be funny to let them know she knew where they were. This, of course, was unsettling for the user and resulted in Uber receiving a $20,000 fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Web2 data privacy laws
In response to data malpractices, privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA have been introduced. Though this is a step forward, these laws don’t protect our data privacy entirely and are lenient with their rules.
The new data privacy laws give users more power and rights over their data. In some cases, it is now possible to access, manage and delete your data. But, shaping a data-privacy driven future is not easy, even with new rights, it is still difficult to figure out how to access and delete data.
Data Sovereignty in Web3
How Web3 is Shaping a Data-Privacy Driven Future
Web3 is built on the foundation of each and every user having ownership over their data. This removes power from the hands of Big Tech companies and other businesses and returns it to users. The technology is designed so that users are compensated if they decide to share their data. They also get to decide where and how it can be used.
Instead of data being stored on one central computer it is stored on a distributed network of computers. This user-centric approach allows us to experience meaningful ownership of our data with property rights secured by algorithms. Furthermore, our privacy is guaranteed through the use of cryptographic encryption used on the blockchain.
In order to have true data sovereignty our data needs to be transferable (meaning it can be used on different platforms). This concept is properly known as data interoperability. Web3 achieves data interoperability through the use of noncustodial solutions. This method allows us to move from different platforms with the same set of data.
The internet driven by privacy
It is clear that the more we focus on creating human-first internet applications, the more we are able to conduct ethical data collection practices. This is key to Web3 driving a data-privacy driven future. No matter how many algorithms and computers handle our data, it always starts and ends with a person–we cannot detach ourselves from that.
Data privacy and ownership are not a luxury. They are a right that all applications should be built on. Restructuring the data economy means that users will have the right to revoke access to their data at any time, be compensated for it, know how and where it is used and be able to delete it without confusion.