Blockchain Reigns Supreme for Data Integrity and Data Sovereignty

Opinion, Regulation | December 15, 2018 By:

For many different industries, consumer information in the form of medical research, location-based services, business transactions and financial information are becoming a liability, with many of the regulatory bodies passing sweeping laws to protect people from incessant digital tracking. Consumer information gives few “data brokers” control over user generated content, yet the data brokers are the only ones monetizing that very data. The data gives companies  insight into the type of person, their behaviors, giving these companies more predictable conversions to sales. However, users are understandably becoming more concerned and skeptical of how their data is being used and rightly so.

With many of the global compliance regulations, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the CA Consumer Data Privacy Act of 2018, data has gone from being a real liability to impacting the bottom line. Businesses across industries such as Medical/BioTech, Advertising and Supply Chain are all concerned about spending additional funds in order to comply with the different regulatory agencies and the fines and enforcement on the rise.

European companies are expected to spend an average of $1.4 million to comply with GDPR, and U.S.-based companies are setting aside anywhere between $1 million to $10 million each for this compliance, according to Gartner’s newly released tech trends. Facebook, Yahoo and Equifax are being fined large amounts $1.5 billion, $100+ million and $80 million, respectively, if they don’t comply with the EU’s GDPR.

Distributed Ledger Technology, or blockchain, inherently provides secure, transparent and scalable environments for storing immutable transactions and consumer information. We at Dispatch believe that anonymizing consumer information not only preserves but improves the ability for companies across many industries to store and access sensitive consumer information, creating a mutually beneficial community between users and companies using, managing and accessing data.

Here are a few examples where blockchain technologies can impact specific verticals, keeping in mind that many industries across the spectrum stand to benefit from adopting blockchain technology.

  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
    The medical industry could benefit immensely from a transition to DLTs. Sensitivity around processing and storing research and patient data has always been an issue, but now, information can be securely stored off-chain where medical records can immutably be stored and tracked within the ledger. And patient data can be safely stored and managed within the ledger.
  • Supply Chain: For example, companies such as Walmart are requiring their food suppliers to adopt blockchain technology by September of 2019 to improve traceability and food-safety. Immutable records going back to the grower gives everybody along the supply chain an instantaneous snapshot to track contaminated produce and goods, dramatically lowering liability and reducing time to resolution.
  • Advertising: The AdTech industry is projected to hit $335 billion annually by 2020 with billions of users creating content for more targeted marketing. Yet, increasingly, end users are reluctant to share their information because “data brokers” were not transparent about how the information was being used. Distributed Ledger Technology provides transparency of how user information is being used and Zero-Knowledge Analytics anonymizes and protects data, removing the liability for AdTech firms using the information.

In a newly published investigative story, The New York Times took the lid off just how much consumer data is being shared, examining a sample of 1,000 popular mobile apps that include location-sharing code. Despite some apps indicating that data would be “anonymized,” the data presented exact longitude and latitude coordinates and specific street addresses, revealing users’ travel patterns with alarming accuracy — up to a few yards. These app publishers then sell, use or analyze the data to collaborate closer with advertisers, retailers or hedge funds, all of who seek deeper insights into consumer behavior.

With consumers reaching a tipping point on the wholesale exploitation of their private data, regulatory bodies and government have also reached a point of no return, where they are calling for more regulatory actions and penalties. Companies either need to start planning that the cost of doing business is going to become even more expensive due to even more regulations, or they should strongly consider how blockchain technology could provide a new avenue to proceed quickly in a way that addresses consumers’ and regulatory bodies’ calls for improved data privacy.

About the author

Matt McGraw is the co-founder and CEO of Dispatch. He is a serial entrepreneur, adviser and investor, with several successful exits under his belt. Matt’s current focus is on disruptive technology that supports more sustainable, equitable business models, particularly around the issues of data sovereignty and data privacy.