Amber Baldet, a former senior executive at JPMorgan and co-founder and CEO of Clovyr, a proprietary development framework and “ecosystem of [supporting] applications and services” for implementing blockchain-based systems, recently wrote that “this decade will be remembered for surveillance capitalism.”
Our Data Is A "Scarce Digital Asset"
The advent of globalization, which has largely been facilitated by the rapid development and advancement of communications technology, has seen many companies who’ve made huge profits from using people’s personal information.
Although regulators have finally caught up with and have attempted to address the potentially exploitative practices of giant firms such as Facebook, Baldet believes:
Blockchain technology makes it possible to think of our data as a scarce digital asset that can be owned, rented, and sold in new ways.
The former application developer and business analyst at the Avalon Research Group writes:
As our money becomes data, our data is becoming money.
She explains that markets are beginning to emerge in which people have the ability to store what may be technically considered data in “personal digital vaults” or cryptocurrency wallets.
"Free-Market Economics Collides With Changing Legislation"
As described by Baldet, this data is “referenced via blockchain-tracked tokens and financed via cryptocurrency microtransactions.” Going on to point out that large corporations have begun to utilize blockchain technology in order to improve their business processes, she notes that governments may not be “so keen” to accept that “monetary policy comes from code” - as it technically does with most types of decentralized cryptocurrencies.
In a manner that’s quite similar to how many crypto industry participants have argued, Baldet thinks it might be possible that:
cryptocurrency-based free market economics will collide with changing consumer sentiment about the value of personal data and legislation.
The experienced server side application developer mentions that we’re “already seeing hints of this” as she believes the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will provide a better and more accountable system for organizations who manage user data.
Although there may be many ongoing efforts related to protecting user data and privacy, it must be noted that online systems designed to store customer data have been compromised numerous times. In many such cases, the organization managing the data may not have deliberately acted negligently, but unfortunately fell victim to malicious hackers.
Valuable User Data Stolen
As covered by CryptoGlobe, large amounts of user data was leaked from a Brazilian crypto arbitrage platform in late August. While user funds were reportedly not stolen, the private account information of the platform’s over 264,000 users was shared publicly - including their email addresses, crypto account balances, and phone numbers.
Also in late August, CryptoGlobe reported that 130 million hotel data records belonging to customers of the Huazhu Hotel Group, a large Chinese hotel management firm, were leaked. The private information was not only obtained by a malicious hacker(s), but they had also reportedly been attempting to sell it for Bitcoin (BTC) via the dark web.
Clearly, as Baldet has pointed out, user data has now become more valuable than ever. She wrote:
The line between data and money is dissolving … [we need to] demand better from those in power (governments) … lest they lose access to what they need to serve - our data.