By Pavel Bains, Bluzelle
The digital economy is a bit of an enigma. Experienced on small screens that fit in our pockets or fold into our bags, the rich ecosystem that operates behind the scenes is unfathomable in its scale.
In some ways, this isn’t at all surprising. After all, more than half of the world’s population is connected to the internet, and everything from social interactions to currencies are finding digital expressions that are as captivating as the real thing.
According to a March study by the Pew Research Center, 25% of American adults report that they are online “almost constantly,” and nearly half acknowledge that they access the internet multiple times a day. They are not alone.
Worldwide, more than 200 billion emails are sent, five billion Google searches are executed, six billion YouTube videos are viewed. Last Christmas, online shopping surpassed in-store purchases for the first time. In total, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created from the flurry of online activity that never ceases.
Ultimately, the internet is driven by data. It’s both the outcome and the result of the digital age, and it’s incredibly valuable.
In fact, its value is both the thing that makes it problematic and the reality that can make it fixable.
At the same time that the internet is experiencing one of its most troubling times in recent memory, the blockchain has arrived as a differentiating technology that utilizes a distributed network and a decentralized ethos to redefine data management in a way that’s effective for our modern, digital ecosystem.
The internet’s big data problem
After more than two-decades of unbridled and increasing participation in the digital economy, many people quickly learned the perils of the digital age as a staggering stream of data breaches made front page headlines.
Yahoo may have failed at becoming the dominant online search platform, but they succeeded in allowing the most extensive breach in history. The scope of a 2013 hack was revealed and revised numerous times until the company was sold to Verizon in 2017. In a disclosure accompanying the purchase, Yahoo acknowledged that all three billion user accounts were compromised.
Shortly after Yahoo’s disclosure credit monitoring firm, Equifax, announced that 145.5 million user accounts were compromised in a network attack.
Other high profile attacks at Dixon Carphone, MyFitnessPal, and even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reflect the perilous state of data security. Worldwide, more than 20 million websites were compromised in the first half of the year.
Unfortunately, security isn’t the only concern for the trove of data circulating the internet. Whether because of ignorance or indifference, internet users readily allowed their clicks, views, likes, and shares to serve as the currency that paid for their favorite platforms. While internet companies accumulated billions in profits, users forfeited their privacy and personal information for the privilege of “free” access.
Personal privacy is under siege as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the recent implementation of GDPR clearly demonstrate.
In the fallout of Facebook’s enormous debacle, Slate reporter, Will Oremus, shrewdly observed, “This scandal has made the grand bargain of the social web look a little more Faustian than it did before.”
Hackers have hijacked the internet’s ability to reach its potential, and the internet’s current structure has irreparably harmed its standing among users. Regardless, the digital age isn’t coming to a close any time soon. Fortunately, the blockchain offers tangible solutions for the data management problems that plague the internet.
The blockchain’s data management solution
Although the blockchain has been around for nearly a decade, it began gaining notoriety last year when cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin started to gain considerable mind and market share.
Blockchain technology is an innovative technology designed for and implemented as the accounting backbone for Bitcoin. It’s a decentralized ledger that flawlessly records information and securely manages its distribution.
Tech juggernauts including Microsoft and IBM are aggressively implementing blockchain technology into their cloud computing platforms, and while the efficacy of cryptocurrencies remains in question, there is broad unanimity that the blockchain is a disruptive and transformative technology.
In a rare display of bipartisanship, members of the U.S. Congress issued support for the technology in their 2018 Joint Economic Report, noting, “Blockchain technology essentially stores and transmits data securely, in large volume, and at high speeds.” The report adds, “So far, the technology has proved largely resistant to hacking.”
Indeed, the blockchain is capable and restoring data integrity while making it more useful than ever before.
As the decentralized economy proliferates, here are just a few ways that the blockchain is poised to disrupt our schema for what’s possible when it comes to data management.
Data storage is expensive and fraught with problems for companies forced to handle the glut of information that their platforms produce.
In the decentralized ecosystem, customer information can be tokenized, so they provide less of it in the first place. Moreover, it’s easier and more realistic to verify that actions like deleting personal information have actually taken place.
Data loss is embarrassing for companies and devastating for consumers. Unfortunately, this happens with such regularity that it can feel like an inevitability.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The blockchain’s decentralized structure protects information from common assaults like DDoS attacks that frequently cause data leaks. Moreover, although all technology is vulnerable a hack, McKinsey & Co, notes, “blockchain technology can make similar breaches a great deal more difficult to achieve.”
Both centralized and decentralized networks have limits to their capacity, but the blockchain excels at facilitating data transactions. After all, the technology was first adopted to account for millions of currency transactions, so it’s uniquely adept at removing the data clog that frequently restricts current platforms.
As the digital age continues unabated, we can look to new technology to provide better solutions to the internet’s shortcomings. Recently, the web has revealed itself to be a perilous place, but it can become more functional, trustworthy, and secure as we move ahead into the decentralized future.
Pavel Bains is the CEO of Bluzelle, a decentralized data ecosystem that allows individuals and businesses to have full data control and the ability to monetise that data. Bluzelle provides a decentralised database that manages and stores data through sharding to achieve unprecedented security and scale.