Data Privacy Wild West

in 2021 online payment fraud increased by 14%, from USD 17.5 billion to over USD 20 billion. At the same time, 46% of organizations survey conducted by PwC reported having experienced fraud, corruption or economic crime in the last 24 months, with 70% of these occurring as a result of an external attack or collusion. There are hundreds of different statistics that all point to the same point: The Internet can be a dangerous place where money changes hands. When you combine this with the rise of remote working, new digital security issues, and corporate information policies, data seems more vulnerable than ever.

Cybercrime has skyrocketed over the past decade as more and more platforms create new opportunities for digital thieves and hackers to scam and scam at will. But in fact, over the past three years, data has taken a giant leap forward. Around 40% of all global scams, though possibly more, are believed to be platform scams, with scams coming from platforms including social media, streaming services, and marketplaces. Wherever a user may be trying to build trust or establish communication, there is the potential for cybercrime.

This is the unfortunate reality of Web2. It’s the Wild West of data privacy.

What has broken Web 2.0 so much?

The first thing to admit is that they probably didn’t set off. The internet was never designed to be intrinsically safe, it assumed that if you were online you could be trusted. Nor was the World Wide Web designed with security in mind, it was just a means of making data stored on the Internet available for public use. Web 2.0 brought an era of platforms with a huge number of users often using ephemeral but highly addictive services, the problem was how to monetize them. When data and data-driven advertising turned out to be the answer, problems began:

  • Verification – With Web2.0 you have to prove it’s you. It’s usually asymmetric, and always a deeply flawed system that relies more on assumptions and conclusions than on actual data. Texting codes, sending an ID or taking a selfie do little to protect users or platforms, but they help create valuable datasets. From the consumer’s point of view, this whole premise is wrong. Our identity should be ours, and it should be possible to confirm it online as effectively as at passport control. Web2.0 never figured out how to do it, or maybe didn’t want to, because giving up data meant giving up control of it.
    • Data storage – Our data is not under our control. Want your credit report? You have to apply for it. Want to know your spending history? Ask Mastercard or your bank. Do you want to know about your insurance, mortgage and student loans? All this data exists at their end, not yours, and you have no choice trust that they will take care of it. How many hundreds of millions of trusting people have been hurt by this in recent years?
    • Passwords – Holy grail of scammers. Most of us are not good at creating, managing and remembering them, and besides, we are lazy. So passwords are an open target for anyone looking to steal our data, and they feature in most of the biggest data breaches.
    • Inconvenience – In an attempt to tame the excesses of Web 2.0, regulators have placed ever-tighter constraints on what can be done with consumer data. GDPR, CCPA cookie preferences, the list goes on and on. While there were some significant consumer benefits, the biggest impact was how inconvenient it became to use the internet. Much of the value of the regulations has eroded because it’s just easier to click “accept all” and then your data is out of your control forever.
  • Personification – You can quite easily gather enough information about your best friend or family member to create a strong fake profile and impersonate them as a prank. But what if it was a stranger, it wasn’t a joke, the intentions were malicious, and they already had your details without your knowledge? Your digital identity is up for grabs in Web2.0 and in just a few clicks you can create a fake identity.
  • Value exchange is broken – Web2.0’s native currency is data, and the advertising industry spends the most. Remember, when you use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you are not a consumer, you are a product. The business model is that they use your data to target ads to you. All of these platforms are cleverly designed to grab your attention and show you more and more ads

Fixing Web2.0 issues with Web3

At the dawn of Web 2.0, no one knew where it was. Web3 is different, monkeys aside, it has a very deliberate intention to fix Web 2.0’s problems. Our personal data has been used and abused for far too long and Web3 is all about taking a stand, eliminating the use of data and creating a better way forward, giving you the data so you can control your identity exactly as you wish. It also creates a new data model for platforms that can be used by the data owner, while platforms and advertisers can provide synchronous value services.

One such solution is Himself. Where similar protocols such as Civic and Web5 struggle to identify users through better code, trustless systems and online verification processes, Self builds trust by extending real-world verification of people to the Web3 space so you know exactly who you are with you’re dealing Trustless systems are great at controlling interactions between machines by relying on keys, but sometimes, actually most of the time, we need to know who has the keys, and that’s where Self comes in. Their use of Web3 technology to bind people to the technology they rely on has fixed things:

  • Verification – You verify yourself when you join the app, and this self-verification gives you access to partner services without having to provide your details
  • Passwords – No passwords, just biometrics
    • Inconvenience – Supporting the concept of regulation, Self makes the network run smoothly again.
  • Data storage – All personally identifiable information is encrypted on your device in a highly secure app. Nothing is stored on the Self network
  • Personification – Impossible. Only you can verify yourself and your credentials. No one else would be able to verify themselves if they didn’t have physical access to you as well as all your documents
  • Value exchange – Services must pay a microtransaction fee to engage with you, and you will receive a portion of this amount over time. Imagine paying to share your data with companies!

Verdict: Web 3 – The End of the Wild West

By owning and controlling the data that concerns us, we can shift the balance of power over data away from Web 2.0 platforms. By being able to verify facts in real time, we can prevent fraudsters from stealing from us and the people we care about, and by controlling and democratizing communications, we can simplify and eliminate network friction. Barbed wire put an end to the Wild West. Platforms such as Self, Civic, and Web5 are implementing technology that, once it starts gaining mass adoption, will eliminate cybercriminals from the equation just like barbed wire did to cowboys.

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.

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