Just like you might think twice about eating chicken nuggets once you see them being made, you would probably hesitate to volunteer your personal information once you see how it is being used and monetized.
Freedom has become one of the most processed goods in the world – and over the years the internet has undermined it.
We live in a world where we are faced with 5,000 words when buying sneakers. Crucial details about what companies do with our data are buried in a variety of legal scholars. This causes most of us to click “I agree” without thinking about the consequences.
In other cases, companies are unacceptably opaque about how our data is used. This is a big problem when companies offer their services “for free” … provided we can provide our email address, phone number, and some other details.
A scene from the latest science fiction series Maniac shows perfectly where the world is going. A character has a choice – he can either pay for his subway ticket or get it for free in exchange for personal information. As you can imagine, they bluntly went for the latter.
That’s basically what we do every day – giving our data to businesses big and small, sacrificing our privacy and freedom in the process.
It has gotten so bad that individual states have had to adhere to rules and regulations to protect the public, many of which they don’t know what to sign up for when they tick a seemingly innocuous box on a website.
And it’s also telling that tech giants are concerned that the faucets will be turned off. When Apple unveiled a new feature that would allow users to opt out of tracking their activity across apps and websites, Facebook launched a violent PR campaign against the measures. The social network advocated protecting the small businesses that rely on its platform for targeted advertising. Cynics among you will see it as a brazen attempt to protect the profits of a company tasked with some of the most insidious and influential data mining practices in history.
Pandora’s box has been opened
The tides are starting to change – because we’ve opened Pandora’s box – and the world is starting to have overdue discussions about the privacy we are entitled to online.
For more than 10 years we have experienced ample financial freedom thanks to Bitcoin (BTC) and its rivals … but in other parts of our society there is still a long way to go.
Last week I went to the store and bought a moisturizer on the fly. When I got home I did a Google search to find out more about the product. Over the next seven days, I was bombarded with moisturizer ads on Facebook.
Freedom, like our health, well-being, and career, is an intrinsic personal responsibility that we must monitor, maintain, and protect – especially in the digital realm, where it can all too easily be sold in exchange for access to free services.
To feel free and safe in our homes, we rely on the privacy of our property and the trustworthiness of our friends and neighbors. Government laws and housing association rules sign this. But we also entrust our financial privacy to institutions – in the expectation that they will be held accountable by regulators and central banks – and the whole reason Bitcoin was introduced in 2009 was because our expectations were not met.
Why blockchain is the answer
Every modern proof-of-stake blockchain deals in a unique way with the issues surrounding digital privacy and trust. In these lively communities, decentralized governance helps ensure that standards are adhered to and work against the good of a network.
With PoS blockchains, users benefit from a declaration of consent. You will be kept informed of suggestions for improving and expanding the network and ideas for new services. Digital social consensus means that they can read debates about the pros and cons of each proposal, come to their own conclusions, and vote accordingly. Can you honestly imagine a tech giant doing this?
Privacy issues can be solved by generating abstract network addresses that are not permanently tied to public keys, or by using special proxy smart contracts that are similar to VPN and Tor, but above the blockchain.
Can blockchain technology solve some of the most pressing privacy and trust problems of a generation? I think so. Once the technology is in place and transactions are cheap enough, consumers can make a choice – share their private data or pay a small fee instead.
We must learn hard lessons from the past and make the right decision this time. I remember the early days of email when spam messages were a huge problem. A small sender fee was seen as a way around this problem – but in the end, Gmail companies got their way. Now there are no more financial costs. We only pay the low price for Google, which hosts all of our electronic correspondence.
Proof-of-stake blockchains can deliver cheap transactions, decentralized governance that regulates network rules, maximum privacy, and no data collection guidelines. Every story begins with trust – and in the blockchain world, trust begins with the network.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the sole rights of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Vladimir Maslyakov is the CTO of Thekey.space and former CTO of Exante.eu. As an IT architect, he developed several distributed financial systems. He has been a blockchain enthusiast since 2012 and a first member of the Free TON community.