Table of Contents
For well over a decade, Internet giants like Google and Facebook have collected massive amounts of user data by offering “free” services. They track as much of your online activities as possible, and then use the collected data to serve you targeted ads and personalize the experience.
However, personal data collection is much more than just ads and personalization. It could be used for surveillance. Or it could get into the hands of malicious actors. In most countries, the regulations are flawed or weak at best, doing very little to preserve user privacy. It opens the doors for abuse by the Big Tech and the governments.
Big Tech can sell your data to the highest bidder (no, you don’t even get a percentage of the ad revenue) without ever telling you. User consent, what’s that? A bunch of apps designed for Muslim users were found selling the personal data of more than 150 million users to brokers that in turn sold this data to the US military and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Users of these apps had no idea!
Can Big Tech preserve user privacy?
Companies like Apple and Google have introduced new features and made multiple changes to give users greater control over their data.
Google is phasing out third-party cookies and limiting covert tracking with its Privacy Sandbox. Apple has added the app tracking transparency (ATT) feature to its iDevices. It requires apps to seek users’ permission to track their activities across other websites and apps. Facebook’s parent company Meta estimates that the ATT would cause the social media giant losses “in the order of $10 billion” for 2022.
On the surface, it seems like Big Tech could successfully reassure users about the privacy of their data. But here’s the truth: They may collect a little less data in the future than they do now, but they’ll never stop harvesting it.
Even Apple, which generates most of its revenue by selling devices and services rather than ads, needs your data. It was found to be secretly letting developers listen to your private conversations to improve its Siri voice assistant.
Big Tech is doing the bare minimum they need to do to make users believe their data is safe so that people keep using their products and services. Think about it. The Big Tech lobby is actively engaged in drafting regulations related to privacy and data protection to ensure that the regulations are tilted in their favor. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Privacy-preserving solutions in the Web3 era
Even though the Web3 might be a hazy concept at this point, there’s no denying that hundreds of developers are addressing people’s concerns using blockchain technology. In its simplest form, Web3 is a decentralized and uncensorable ecosystem of services based on blockchain.
Web3 solutions such as Profila are giving users full control over their data to keep it private and surveillance-free. Profila is a Cardano-based zero-knowledge customer engagement and digital marketing platform.
“Zero-knowledge” means users don’t have to reveal any personal details even when they choose to share their data with brands in exchange for rewards and compensation. Profila incentivizes users to share “anonymized” data with brands through its app. Since the data and insights come directly from users, brands receive more accurate feedback that they can use to run highly targeted ads.
Profila is developing a privacy-first marketplace where its users can post anonymized “personas” or Avatars. The brands and users discover one another in an anonymous way through these Avatars.
Big Tech has a strong incentive to harvest and sell your data. Therefore, they probably don’t care as much about your online privacy as you do. But the Web3 solutions designed from the ground up to maintain anonymity and give you full control over your data could help reassure billions of users in 2022 and beyond. Major changes are on the horizon.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.