OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Harnessing The Power of Blockchain in the Vulnerable Digital Age – Opinion

Blockchain, Education, Innovation, Opinion | April 16, 2018 By:

Data is the new currency in the Digital Age. Consumers and businesses are targeted for their information. Be it hackers, data brokers, or advertisers, they all follow the money. Despite best efforts at good cyber hygiene, people are having to deal with the fact they have been monitored and analyzed in ways that weren’t possible two decades ago.

Government surveillance is one thing. But when social media platforms track users after they arrive at their destination (Uber) or are not even a member of a community (Facebook), the abuse of users’ data has gone too far.

Data security and privacy are of paramount importance to individuals and the rights to privacy that go with their information. This is one reason the European Union is rolling out its General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) this May, with stiff penalties for transgressors. It is also why Mark Zuckerberg blinked at the U.S. Senate Hearings when he was questioned about who owns users’ data—the individual or Facebook.

“Informed consent” was written into the Nuremberg Code in 1947. It was improved upon in the Helsinki Declaration (1964), and again with the United Nations’ The Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (2005). This year, the GDPR’s 88-page brief focuses on an individual’s right to choose consent or opt out in the Digital Age.

As revelations of how pervasive the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal continue to ripple out, had Facebook built a blockchain ecosystem for its third party vendors and advertisers, the social media company could have tracked how the data was handled, distributed, and resold. The failure to adopt blockchain has left the company exposed to lawsuits, European fines, and US regulations to come.

Similarly, this year’s data breaches of Panera Bread, Saks Fifth, Under Armour, and the ransomware attack on Atlanta city government, could have been avoided with blockchain’s additional layers of security and protection.

Blockchain technology, the underlying architecture for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has the ability to empower companies and consumers alike to ensure the ‘CIA’ of data security: Confidentiality (privacy) of users’ data; Integrity of data as it’s recorded and timestamped on the blockchain for proof of ownership and compliance; and Availability of data that is fully traceable and auditable. The technology offers improved black and white lists of users, clearer identity management policies, and behavioral analytics. It enables companies to see where, how, or in which way the billions of data points are sliced and diced.

Today, software companies such as Tieto in Norway and DataWallet in New York are building blockchain applications with users’ informed consent built into their protocols – empowering users to resell their data for income, rewards, or discounts to advertisers, researchers, and third party brokers. It will turn the model companies like Facebook on its head.

The day when crypto-keys, used to access a digital vault or wallet, are hacked by an intruder, and the owner knows instantly of the intrusion, as opposed to months after a breach: blockchain will then show its true power as the foundation of the Third Digital Revolution.

James Grundvig is the COO and Co-Founder of Myntum Ltd., a blockchain-based security company. He has more than 25 years of project and change management experience in the engineering-construction industry on projects of scale, from oilrig construction in Norway and deep foundations in Philadelphia, PA, to heavy highway in New Jersey to infrastructure and New York State’s first LEED-Gold (Leadership Energy & Environmental Design) condominium in downtown Manhattan. James parlayed that research and technical report writing into becoming an investigative journalist and author of three published books.