Blockchain as a Privacy Solution
From online banking to healthcare and social media, personal information is widely available and easily exposed more than ever before. The trend of smartphone applications tracking location, financial, and biometric data to make common day-to-day activities easier and convenient, has only intensified the debate on privacy. With higher risk has come an increasing rate of privacy breaches that have prompted blockchain projects to be developed as a solution to address this issue with security and transparency.
Some newly created privacy options based on blockchain platforms are:
Currency - cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash and Monero, provide additional privacy by reducing tracking activity through added encryption; however, the downside is that transactions involving fraud and crime also became difficult for law enforcement to trace;
Browsers and social media - newly created platforms, such as BAT’s Brave Browser and Steemit, allow users to search and engage with content free of affiliate or third party data collecting or storing;
From these two examples, the debate on privacy issues becomes quickly apparent as:
Governments want to bypass privacy concerns in order to protect their people;
In the 2015 terrorist shooting at San Bernardino, FBI pressed Apple to unlock the phone of one of the shooters, citing it as a security concern. Apple declined the request stating that doing so at the request of a 3rd party would impact its trust and long-term relationships with customers.
Corporations gathering and selling customer data in order to increase their bottom line;
Companies, like Facebook and Twitter, have had record-breaking profits due to advertising and selling customer data to other companies, which in turn can quickly boost targeted marketing efforts that increase sales; however, with this success also comes the responsibility to customers of securing and protecting private data, which unfortunately has not always taken place with the privacy compromises at Equifax (hacked in 2017 )and Facebook (Cambridge Analytica which happenned due to voluntary consent from FB users).
A key component of the privacy issue is also the increased comfort with which consumers share personal and private data with companies and people. Individuals should do their own research and due diligence when it comes to sites that they communicate with, or rely on for some product or service. Some surveys and polls featured on social media have the ability to capture consent for sharing of your personal profile and those of your contacts as well. Failure to carefully read the fine print can lead to unintended exposure of private information.
Overall, the debate with data privacy continues to rage on with consumers on one side interested in improving current standards and an opposing side requesting ways to completing prevent all their personal data from being shared. Tech giants, like Amazon and Google, will continue to aggregate enormous volumes of data and take on tremendous risks and responsibilities with it. Governments will look to maintain control through deep surveillance and monitoring that is necessary to ensure public safety and the greater good. Citizens are caught in the middle and will need to take a firm stance on solutions that allow innovation and benefits that they’ve become accustomed to, while also maintaining higher levels of security and protection.
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