-0.33%) could unwittingly be the world’s best advertisement for
Even as the social media giant
tries to shore up its privacy regime after data securities issues exposed the data of about 3 million users, privacy and
security are likely to dog it—along with every other Internet-based company.
The good news is there may be
a silver lining: The constant drumbeat of high-profile hacks of companies like
Facebook, Target (TGT,
+1.14%), and Equifaxcould accelerate the tipping point when the public
embraces the notion that the Internet we depend on is truly broken, and when
alternatives like blockchain gain greater acceptance.
And the sooner that happens,
The problem with the public
Internet is that its architecture and our desire for privacy are utterly
incompatible. With every high-profile hack, that becomes more obvious. The
network of computers we call the Internet operates as a giant copy-and-paste machine—copying
information from one computer and pasting it to another when transferring data.
When we share vital
information such as our name, date of birth, address, and social security
number, that sensitive data is passed to third-party companies that require it.
This creates two additional problems: We have to repeatedly fill out forms
every time we interact with a new organization, and the firms that make copies
and store our information in centralized databases are easy targets for
With data proliferating
rapidly, it seems unlikely that the problem will improve without a new
approach: The Internet generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, and 90% of all the
data in the world was created in the last two years alone. A new approach that
could help is distributed ledger technology (DLT).
A distributed ledger, or a
public blockchain such as Ethereum, acts very differently from the Internet. Rather
than making copies from one computer and pasting them to another when
transferring information, with the blockchain, there is a transfer of ownership
of the original information.
architecture of a blockchain clearly defines and improves the privacy of data
in a digital format online. Blockchain technology creates counterfeit-proof
information on a network we can trust. Instead of sharing our date of birth
again and again, we have one permanent record of this information on the
blockchain and then give temporary permission to access the official record
In this system, public information
such as tax records, government records, and local school budgets can remain
public while the private data of citizens and corporations can be private and
This approach turns our
current digital economy on its head. Today, we give away our data to companies
like Facebook for free, and they monetize that information without sharing
their revenues. In a blockchain system, your data is your own and only you have
the private keys and ability to access this information. Then, you can share
and monetize that data as you wish.
For example, a bank might ask
customers for access to their data to learn more about shopping and payment
patterns, perhaps offering an incentive to share that information, such as
loyalty program points or a lower credit card interest rate.
Today, questions of privacy
often come down to a blanket request of agreeing or disagreeing to sharing
data. In a blockchain environment, sharing our data will become more granular,
specific, and secure.
A study by Doug Galen of the Stanford Graduate School of
Business says the promise of blockchain is based on four attributes: its
ability to enable transparency of data, to ensure that data is tamper-proof, to
mitigate counterparty risk in transactions, and to create and manage digital
It will take time to realize
this promise, but with billions of dollars deployed to develop blockchain—for
instance, at least $1.3 billion had been invested by venture capitalists
in just the first few months of 2018—there’s much to look forward to even in
the next two years.
We’re already seeing the first
signs of what blockchain can do—from Estonia’s blockchain-enabled Keyless Signature Infrastructure to JPMorgan
+0.33%) launching a new blockchain payment processing network with the Royal
Bank of Canada and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
Countless companies are
working to make privacy on blockchain inviolable. Barbados-based Shyft is developing a blockchain-based network that it
says will have “unbreachable data protection” and can restore consumer
confidence in our financial system. Civic is developing a DLT-based personal identity
verification protocol to better manage digital identities. And YouBase is working on making it easy and secure for
individuals to access, control, and share valuable health and personal
With some of the finest minds
in the tech world working on making our data safer on the blockchain, and with
data breaches on the Internet expected to continue unabated, transformation may
come a lot sooner than many people think.
I say the quicker, the better.
here for the original article from Fortune.