According to Forbes, “The data volumes are exploding, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.” With the advent of Internet 2.0, data has been rife and when such a massive amount of data is generated, a greater sense of responsibility is required. Recent Cambridge Analytica Data scandal is the evidence of the fact that even “centralized” behemoths like Facebook can’t be trusted to keep the personal data of individuals secure.
In perhaps, one of the largest data leaks witnessed in the human history, personal data of 87 million users was harvested to specifically target and influence the votes for the US presidential elections of 2016. Following this instance, regulatory measures have been taken to curb the misuse of data such as the recent introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union. However, the introduction of such norms cannot be completely relied upon to keep the personal data of users secure and free from cyber attacks.
Earlier this year in March, the social media platform was banned by Sri Lanka for a week. Another instance which came into the limelight is the expected ban to access Facebook for a month, by Papua New Guinea. The country wants to introspect on the fake accounts and the users who upload pornographic content, promote fake news and misleading information.
Although internet penetration in the country is a meager 10% and the number of Facebook users is somewhere around 600,000 – 700,000, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Company, such instances cannot be sidelined. Data, which belongs to the users have long been monetized by media behemoths to serve users targeted advertisements. The fact that Facebook and Google combined, control more than 60% of the $550 billion advertising industry leaves individuals vulnerable to further data breaches at the hands of these “central” institutions.
Implementation of Blockchain – a decentralized way of transacting peer-to-peer – would have solved such issues. With all the personal information belonging to the users such as their email id, credit card number, address etc. encrypted using the highest level of cryptography, individuals would be in full control of their data. Decryption or access to the data would be possible only by gaining access to the user’s private key, thereby, giving the user complete access to share his data with only a select few. Moreover, being a distributed ledger, data would be stored in immutable databases at an infinite number of places as compared to a single central station. This ensures that the data is not vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Privacy is the fundamental right of a prosperous society and every individual should have access to his/her data. Onename is a promising startup working in this space to ensure the privacy of user data online. The startup uses a blockchain-based profile to create a “trustless” digital identity of the user, eliminating the need for keeping the personal data online. With the blockchain ecosystem maturing, we would see numerous similar decentralized applications off-shooting to put the responsibility and control in the hands of the users.