Can Blockchain Technology Protect Privacy in a Pandemic?
Privacy is a human right. With blockchain technology, a true decentralized process governs actions like uploading or deleting data, limiting the data from being controlled by particular entities and their opaque practices.
People are suddenly far more conscious of privacy issues due to coronavirus pandemic.
With the world bound to stay at home, millions of people began utilizing Zoom for online meetings only to discover the company did not live up to its obligations of privacy. While considering a business for work or chatting with friends and relatives, people had little security, and their data could be surreptitiously funneled to Facebook for ad targeting. Reports have also appeared that half a million Zoom credentials are up for sale on the dark web for less than a penny each.
Invasive technology has also been implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Israel enacted legislation to allow its spies to trace citizens’ movements through their phones if they were suspected of being infected. Apple and Google have launched their phone-tracing initiative locating infected people and those they have been close to in a new form of corporate surveillance. Notwithstanding the tech giants’ claims that they don’t have the information they collect, most analyses have concluded that the public has to place their trust in Apple and Google. Regrettably, trusting big corporations with our data ends well. Too often, it drops in misuse or hacks.
While it is important to reduce the spread of the virus and utilize the best technology has to offer to do so, we should ask how much privacy we will surrender in the name of beating Covid. And we should see to generate alternatives that can accomplish the twin goals of controlling the spread of the virus and protecting our privacy.
An area to look for answers is blockchain, with its incorporation of encryption and decentralization that places data at less risk of abuse. Blockchain’s essence as a peer-to-peer transfer of value indicates it is a technology that cuts out the agent. That is, it eliminates the point of vulnerability where data can be stolen or sold or used to manipulate us. Blockchain provides data sovereignty that enables individuals to determine what data to share, and importantly with whom. Ironically, Zoom played up because it exaggerated its claims of end-to-end encryption, and Apple and Google promoted their solution as “decentralized” even though, in the end, the two corporations have access to large amounts of data that will be gathered.
Blockchain prevails as a nascent technology and is not a panacea. However, customers must ask how much authority they have over their data — and how much they should have. With blockchain technology, a true decentralized process governs actions like uploading or deleting data, limiting the information from being controlled by specific entities and their opaque practices. Precisely, the data can be audited transparently on a blockchain. The individual who has presented the data can know if their data has been utilized in the way they are authorized.
Privacy is a Human Right
The universal monitoring of individuals presents multi-billion dollar profits to corporations in a business model identified as “surveillance capitalism.” Google, Facebook, and Amazon, for instance, suck up massive amounts of data on their users and market this data to advertisers. The picture that arises from the individual data points encourages other businesses to target their ads when they consider them their most likely consumers.
Now more than ever, people are aware of how essential it is to wash your hands with soap to decrease the risk of infection. People must also learn to practice data hygiene to reduce the risk of data abuse. Blockchain may well be the hand sanitizer our data needs.