The world is all abuzz with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a data analytics firm which is said to have surreptitiously obtained personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users.
As unsettling as it is, the issue has become a wake-up call for many users, including those in Asia. There now around 499 million people in Asia with a Facebook account.
The issue was an interesting backdrop to the recently concluded Token 2049 event in Hong Kong.
Brian Kelly, the author of “The Bitcoin Big Bang – How Alternative Currencies Are About to Change the World” and the CEO of BKCM, highlighted the importance of decentralisation and the blockchain technology to protect personal data.
At his opening speech at Token 2049 he said: “I think the world is waking up to the idea that there’s value in our data. And (with the blockchain technology) we can choose how we want to use it, how we want people to see it, we control that data.” The blockchain technology can store information in multiple, decentralized database. Kelly believes it can be the solution to issues such as data breaches.
Cambridge Analytica, owned by a hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and at that time was led by President Donald Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon, used the data taken from users to build a system that could profile individual voters in the US. In doing so, they could target them with personalised advertisements.
“Imagine if I came to your house, saw what you liked to do and saw you liked fishing, then walked out. The next day there’s somebody at the door saying, ‘Would you like to buy a fishing pole?’ We think that’s crazy and yet that’s being done every day,” says Kelly.
Josh Hall in his Guardian opinion piece entitled “How Blockchain could help us take back control of our privacy” wrote that people can store data in a decentralized ledger, free from a single point of failure. “Connect that technology to existing payment systems and platforms, and combine it with biometric security features on our smartphones or tablets and we could then enjoy significantly more control over what information we share with whom,” he wrote.
This technological revolution, as Kelly calls it, can be a game-changer in the way people value their personal data.