The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018 once again caught the attention of the general public on the implications of poor data privacy policies managed by a centralised enterprise.
Over the past five years, Facebook reportedly shared the data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica, without explicit user consent and knowledge. For many, there was a growing realization the enterprises and platforms they use, trusted and shared their information with on a daily basis – such as Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, and WeChat – were potentially exposing very private and sensitive data for the benefit of their ad-targeting efforts.
According to a study by Marketing Charts published in April 2018, 55 per cent of Facebook users said they were very concerned about their personal data being sold and used by other companies and 43 per cent were very concerned about the invasion of their privacy on Facebook.
Despite Facebook’s efforts to address the public outlash by providing greater transparency on which apps it shares a user’s data with and disclosing information about its advertisers, it has not been enough to address the public’s growing concerns over data privacy.
Data privacy concerns are ultimately a result of large services and platforms centrally storing the data of their millions of users. In some cases these services have monopolised entire countries, making the potential damage from a data breach far-reaching. For example, more than 80 per cent of smartphone users in China use WeChat, yet the app is vulnerable to data breaches due to a lack of end-to-end encryption and potential misuse by the government due to a prioritisation of commercial interests over individual users.
What can be done to keep large, centralized conglomerates from amassing exceptional amounts of data, and potentially misusing that data for commercial gain?
Blockchain is the answer
Blockchain technology enables a transparent and auditable ledger where data cannot be collected and distributed without the knowledge and consent of the user, thus eliminating potential data privacy violations. Decentralized storage of data also eliminates a central point of failure where malicious hackers could gain access to millions of data records by assessing a single server.
Although cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum created the underlying infrastructure and initial applications of blockchain technology, the next phase is to capitalise on the transparency blockchain provides to restore trust. Currently, there are numerous third-generation, decentralised protocols being built on the public blockchain that offers privacy and advanced permission-based features.. Blockchain can be seen as a potential “firewall” that can protect from a dystopian future where a few large conglomerates hold a majority of the control and power over consumer data.
A blockchain startup, SwipeCrypto (SWIPE), is focused on using blockchain to address the current data privacy crisis and giving users control over how their data is shared.
Empowering data monetization and privacy with blockchain
SWIPE is building a decentralised data privacy and monetization platform on top of the Ethereum platform. SWIPE aims to build a data ecosystem where key stakeholders are compensated fairly and user privacy is respected.
The platform gives users control over what they can disclose and incentivises them for providing accurate data. Data collection occurs through the integration of the SWIPE SDK to a variety of mobile applications. User data, such as behavioural, interest, transactional and demographic data can be collected, with the consent of the user and encrypted using SWIPE’s data sharing and privacy protocol, allowing full personal ownership of one’s data. This will allow for real-time, quality data to be released on the open market, attracting more participants in the ecosystem to do the same – such as users, developers, market research firms, and other data buyers.
The team behind SWIPE is a diverse group of industry and thought leaders with prior expertise in adtech, analytics and artificial intelligence, blockchain research and development, marketing, and business operations. SWIPE has established existing commercial partners and mobile advertising products in Indonesia and the Philippines, ready to come on board as early adopters of the SWIPE Network. SWIPE has already built a strong portfolio of global partnerships, ranging from marketing and research firms such as Acorn, Performars, GMO Research to prominent blockchain firms such as Kenetic Capital, TLDR Capital, Digix, Bluzelle and Origin Protocol.
SWIPE is uniquely poised to disrupt the data industry and gain global adoption due to its scalable approach of building SDKs that can be easily integrated to mobile apps. SWIPE is said to be aggressively integrating mobile apps to the SWIPE network and provide an outstanding package that advertisers and market insights firm can leverage on, without undermining user privacy. Currently, SWIPE has a network of more than 20 apps and access to 6.5 million users and have plans to grow aggressively in the Indonesian and Philippines market as SWIPE has a huge influence in those countries.
Reimagining data monetization
The potential for the SWIPE network to over-turn the data monetization industry is enormous. The traditional model is unsustainable and non-compliant with new regulatory changes and demands, where there is a clear trend favouring more robust data privacy regulations.
Blockchain-based solutions to data privacy and monetization are the way forward. The security, transparency, accountability, and convenience are all far better than existing models which rely on centralised third parties with no accountability and no verifiable way to trust that they will not find loopholes and exploit the data in their custody. Projects like SWIPE are building an innovative solution where we can dissociate our reliance on centralised data intermediaries, and create a better and fairer ecosystem for all.