As crypto regulations creep in the aftermath of crypto scams & crashes, many of us are left wondering.. Is “data privacy & ownership” in Web3 even possible in real-life?
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.
– Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
I think to better answer the question, we’ve to define what “Privacy” means – and that’s a loaded question with many layers.
Firstly, privacy begs the question of “Can I trust you?”.
And in a borderless, online world where Web3 thrives on, we trust very differently.
In a non-Web3, offline world, we trust humans; people we know. Reputation via word-of-mouth referrals is the most credible source of trustworthiness.
Trusting people Offline: I’ll trust you if I’ve met you in person (even more if I met you irl and still think you’re cool). Depending on how open-minded I am, I may judge you based on stereotypes. But once that barrier is broken, I’ll trust you for being you. Better yet, I’ll trust you if your friends, family, and colleagues all tell me how great a person you are. And I’ll want you to trust me too, so meet me and my friends or even family too!
In the online Web3 world, the world is smaller yet also bigger. It’s much easier to meet like-minded people, but we take longer and we need more before we start trusting.
Trusting people Online: If I met you online, I’ll trust you based on your “vibe”; what you show about yourself. Besides that, it’ll be good to have unbiased reviews & algorithms to tell me if you’re trustworthy. Not your friends and family – they’re probably scammers lol. I don’t trust you if you know me as a person – you’re creepy if you know my face and who my family is (even if I’m the one who shared this publicly online) – because doxxing happens. Even if you show me your face, name, and all the possible creds you’ve attained, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll trust you. In fact, if you do share your personal information, I’ll probably judge you based on stereotypes, so brush up on your “online personal branding” please (good luck to introverts who don’t want to publish everything, every single damn day).
That’s why Ownership in the Online world is a freakin’ paradox that goes 1 step forward and N steps back.
🆗 We need Technology to help us to trust (unbiased reviews, algorithms).
➡️ So, Technology needs access to data about everyone – including yourself – to be able to gauge how “good” or trustworthy we all are.
🔄 And yet, we don’t want Technology to access or own our data to find out more about we who are. (What if we get targeted by ads, insurance – or God forbid – the government!)
➡️ So, some smart people came up with Blockchain Technology (and other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, etc) to enable the processing & decentralisation of data.
🔄 However, Technology (or any innovation) needs time and effort to develop.
↩️ Therefore, Technology is prone to security breaches & hacks (especially if the unethical scum of society want to hack & steal by making use of how “transparent” blockchain technology is).
↩️ So this is why we can’t have nice things – and that’s why centralisation happens – our governments/parents have to come in to make sure we play nice.
Now that we’ve established the problem, let’s go back to defining a much more realistic question:
Will “Data Privacy & Ownership“ be Successful – now with Centralised Middlemen who are coming in to govern the Blockchain (e.g. governments and/or smarter people – whom we hope are nice and at least better than scammers stealing our hard-earned life savings) – since it’s not easy to Trust in the Online world?
The diplomatic, lame answer is “It Depends”.
The real, raw, emotional answer, that would usually be typed in CAPS is:
“It really depends on how fast we can mature and grow up. Cos come on, we’re you too. We’re tired of getting scammed by empty promises too. And even more tired when we have to deal with your complaints.”
As I previously mused in another article, like how innovations like medicine and agriculture (and all the other innovations) has evolved and is still evolving, we’ll never ever be satisfied.
It’s the human spirit – there’ll always be something to explore, something to improve.
We can stop going backwards and start moving forward – only when smart people in governments and businesses, work together hand-in-hand.
We’ve to recognise that technology and progress requires transparency from everyone – else we can’t identify bad players and do better.
We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.
- Governments working together: How the banning of CFCs saved the ozone layer
- Governments making things right: How the EU launched GDPR to harmonise data privacy laws
- Businesses working together with Governments: How genealogy websites helped to identify serial killers
- Smart people working together with Governments: How a white hat hacker saved the Internet
Everyone is watching how high this Web3 rocket ship will fly – all of us, even you.
So please, play nice while we’re all figuring it out.