Actually, for the First Time, the Answer Could Be Yes!
Every time we go online and perform any type of activity, from liking a post, to buying a shirt, purchasing concert tickets or simply searching for a nearby restaurant, we’re leaving a trail of breadcrumbs made up of personal information that leads back to a real-world identity.
As a society, in recent years we’ve resigned ourselves to trading our privacy and the security of our personal data for the speed, accessibility and convenience of digital products and services. However, this is beginning to change and consumers are starting to demand more accountability.
What’s causing the shift?
It seems we can’t go for long these days without another major story breaking, relating to data breaches, or the misuse and manipulation of our personal information. The digital advertising industry is making billions each year from our data, but it remains unprotected, in the best cases as a result of negligence and in the worst cases, through the deliberate sharing of user data with unscrupulous 3rd parties. Consumers have had enough and the digital giants are feeling the consequences, as shown by Facebook’s unprecedented one-day $119 Billion fall earlier this month, due to lowered sales growth predictions.
Consumers have been given a helping hand by the introduction of the GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation. This new European law states, among other things, that the consumer is the rightful owner of their data. Online companies that harvest their information must make a digital copy available upon request and they must also gain the consumer’s consent for its use.
This is great, and a welcome legislative move designed to help prevent the reckless disregard for user privacy and the sharing of user data with various 3rd parties that has characterized the ad marketplace for so long. But, can it make us digitally anonymous? Well, no it can’t, but one company is leveraging the power of the GDPR combined with the benefits of blockchain technology to take us one step closer to making the dream of online anonymity a reality.
The Liberdy Data Foundation is blockchain-based ad company that is creating a revolutionary new data marketplace, which puts the consumer in control, anonymizing their data and enabling them to earn from the use of their de-personalized information.
So how does it work?
Via the Liberdy App, the user can instantly access all the data harvested on them by various online service providers like Amazon, Google and Facebook. This takes advantage of the GDPR “Right to data portability”, which enables the consumer to have their personal data transmitted directly from one controller to another. They share and sell their data, only after Liberdy has anonymized it, meaning that neither Liberdy nor the advertisers know who is who. In addition, Liberdy only holds information that is required for running the segmentation algorithms on its servers. All other information is stored and encrypted externally, on the consumer’s devices, where only they can access it. This means that the consumer doesn’t need to trust anyone’s word about what is happening with their data. This is enhanced by the transparency of blockchain-based systems, since all transactions are published on the public ledger.
Contrast this with the way Facebook and other digital companies manage our data. Data is controlled and stored by a single entity, leaving it vulnerable to attack, and the company can pass it on to 3rd parties, or sell it to any buyer with any agenda.
However, at Liberdy, no single server is holding all the information. Every consumer has their own data, stored on their own storage. They alone have the decryption key and are the only ones able to access their own information- no one else not even Liberdy has access.
The consumer has the peace of mind that comes from knowing none of the traded data is identifiable. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is removed before it reaches Liberdy servers, and since the information never reaches Liberdy, there is no potential for misuse.
So, if I’m anonymous now is this the end of targeted advertising?
Anonymity can be achieved, and the wheels of commerce do not have to stop turning.
While the consumer’s data is anonymized, this does not strip it of value for advertisers. In fact, they finally get access to a wealth of verified, first-hand, accurate data that was not previously available outside the walled gardens of Google and Facebook.
For example, while the advertiser will not know that Jane Doe age 24, who lives at 100 Smith Street, Maplewood, NY, USA, is currently on a specific website, they will know that a consumer associated with the segment “Female, 20–25, NYC Greater Area” is on a certain website, so they should now display an ad that targets this demographic.
Liberdy is creating a new advertising ecosystem where the consumer comes first. They are paid for their data, they control where it goes, and their anonymity is assured. We aren’t all the way there yet in terms of complete online anonymity, but the tide is turning and those consumers who value their online privacy finally have a way to take back the reins over their personal information.