The amount of data in our world is rapidly expanding. According to a recent study, it is estimated that 20 per cent of the world’s data has been collected in the past two years. Facebook, the largest online social-network, collected 300 petabytes of personal data since its initiation — a hundred times the amount the Library of Congress has collected in over 200 years.
In the Big Data era, data is continually being gathered and broken down, prompting development and monetary development. Organisations and associations utilise the data they gather to customise services, optimise the decision-making process, predict future patterns and the sky is the limit from there. Today, data is a significant asset in our economy.
While we all benefit from a data-driven society, public concern over user privacy is growing. Centralised organisations — both public and private — amass huge amounts of individual data and delegate information. People have practically zero power over the information that is put away with regards to them and how it is utilised.
Alternatives are being developed to secure user data while big tech corporations continue to control personal data. When blockchain technology is used to solve a problem, writing on immutable data provides complete security to a network's transactions.
The problem of protecting personal data: breach of security — a single point of failure; users do not have control over their data (lack of ownership); users can’t audit (lack of transparency); and data are stored centrally (trusted third party model).
Personal information, as well as sensitive information in general, should not be trusted to third parties, as they are vulnerable to attacks and misuse. Instead, people should own and control their data without compromising security or limiting the ability of governments and businesses to provide personalised services.
Making legal and regulatory decisions about collecting, storing, and exchanging sensitive data should be easier with a decentralised platform. Furthermore, laws and regulations might be programmed directly into the blockchain and enforced automatically. Because it is tamper-proof, the ledger can be used as legal evidence for accessing or storing data.
The blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger in which records called blocks are connected and secured using a cryptographic hash. By design, blockchains are decentralised, secure, immutable and extremely fault tolerant for monetary exchanges, identity management, provenance and authentication.
The centralised Internet's issues
The Internet is continually monitored, and corporations, application developers, and governments track and collect user data on a regular basis. By replacing Internet behemoths with a decentralised, peer-to-peer network of providers, a blockchain-based alternative can address this issue.
The blockchain allows users to keep control of their data while also providing a secure data storage option. Because the data can be spread, a hacker won't be able to access it all in one attack. Even if someone were to obtain access to the blockchain, the potential harm would be minimal. The data locations are encrypted, and only “pointers” recording transactions are stored. Because each user-service pair does have its own unique identity, if a hacker gains access to both the user’s digital signature and encryption key, only a single set of data is affected.
The usage of private and public keys is a crucial aspect of blockchain privacy. Asymmetric cryptography is used in blockchain systems to secure transactions between users. Each user in these systems has a public and private key. A user can’t guess another user’s private key from their public key because it’s mathematically impossible. This improves security and safeguards users from hackers. Because public keys do not reveal personal information, they can be shared with other network users.
Blockchain can be used to govern access-control and ensure transparency.