Digital data protection laws are somewhat trendy - which comes to show that people are waking up to the realization that every action they take on the internet is recorded and can be used for monetization, statistical analysis or even directly against them. While these laws provide some sense of security, no one can be certain that their data has been fully deleted from a company’s database or whether it hasn’t been leaked before deleting. With data breaches happening more and more often, some on a scale unimaginable before (like the Cambridge Analytica scandal), it’s a matter of urgent importance to find a solution to protect data online. One such solution might already exist.
The decentralized nature of the blockchain technology and the advanced encryption mechanisms used in it, make people turn to blockchain as a potential way to provide improved security and privacy in everything digital. Cryptocurrencies might be the most famous applications of blockchain, but they’re definitely not the only ones.
The Blockchain Technology
In most basic terms, a blockchain is a distributed database (ledger) consisting of immutable data blocks which cannot be tampered with or revised. Every computer, or node, on this database contains the exact same info other nodes have, so if someone tries to edit information stored in the blocks the action can be easily detected.
Sorting out the problem of proliferation
Imagine a day of internet usage - how many times do you enter your email address, home address, billing information, credit card credentials? Each separate occasion is a possible breach gap which exposes you to malicious intent or data scraping.
Researchers at MIT are working on such a project which is based on the so-called “secure contracts”. They allow nodes to read data on the blockchain without actually “seeing” it. This technology will allow people to interact with websites and payment systems so that they won’t be able to monetize or analyze the transaction data. This will help enormously in cases where political issues are at stake, as nowadays personal information may be more valuable than any other type of asset.
To be more specific, blockchain technology as a whole (and it’s a very complex system!) is not currently applied to manage public data. It’s the encryption mechanisms from blockchain that researchers and developers consider adjusting and using to improve modern everyday digital communication, shopping and data storing.
It’s already happening
The versatility of the blockchain technology is apparent, and many institutions are already taking advantage of them. Estonia, one of the most forward-thinking countries in terms of digitalization of the economy, has moved all of their citizens’ data onto a distributed ledger. Singapore is also considering the opportunity to build a seamless system for interaction with government services.
Blockchain technology provides many great opportunities for improvement of current web-based services, with data protection being one of the most important so far. While researchers work to help us regain control over our online privacy, we can make sure we follow some best practices, though - read our recommendation in this article!