Do you know about the New Yorker cartoon from the early 90s where a dog, while using a computer, explained to his friend, “On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog”? That used to be when the internet activities of the users remained private because tools to trace every click and pixel of the users didn’t exist.
However, to publish a similar cartoon today, its tagline probably would have been somewhat like, “On the internet, everyone knows what brand of kibble you like, and every time you even look at another dog.”
Today, the relationship between humans and the internet has been so closely intertwined that most of us can’t even imagine a life without it. Most of our everyday tasks, including road navigation, purchasing groceries, staying in touch with people, learning about things across the world, and even our jobs, are now dependent on the internet.
Tech giants like Google, Meta, Amazon, Alphabet Inc., and a handful of other companies, dominate the online ecosystem and earn an overwhelming share of their profits every year just by monetizing the information of their users.
The companies that own the servers you are surfing on constantly watch your every move online. These companies observe your every click and search via the pixelated internet world on every app and website.
Apart from this, sites like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram coerce you into giving up certain data. When combined, all these data serve as a precious commodity. While these data collections don’t always have atrocious objectives, this would not always be the case.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2014 was an evident example of a bold invasion of privacy. Mostly these data serve for targeted ads to efficiently monetize the ‘free’ platforms. However, we can’t overlook that it is a terrifying form of overstepping, and you are losing the value you create online daily to the stealers.
The most horrific part of all this is that lack of enough mainstream alternatives has led people to ‘accept’ that this breach is a consequence of internet use.
Blockchain- a Decentralized Approach
With the continual advancements in blockchain technology, new ways to monetize our internet are emerging. These ways would not only protect the privacy of its users but also restore the ownership of data to the users, the rightful owners. With blockchain, the users will now be able to regain their rightful ownership over the data they generate and the content they create.
Blockchain tech operates on a decentralized ledger system shared among several nodes or computers. Unlike the central or primary ledger system, this system operates proficiently with high scalability and would nullify the requirement for any trusted intermediary.
As the decentralization removes the need for these delegates and allows anyone to program applications on these ledgers, the robber barons would lose centralized control over our activities. With the lack of power to control attribution or use of the user’s data as per their needs, these giants would no longer be able to control the online capabilities of users.
As blockchain tech is still in its infancy, we have yet to realize its true potential and consequences. However, one crystal clear thing is that it’s not late before a much-needed revolution or systematic change occurs in the online world.