Zero-data will dethrone the likes of Gooagle
Decentralisation will prevail…
Currently, revenue growth of the surveillance capitalism model is completely or increasingly dependent on extracting as much data from and about the individuals as possible. This model has become so pervasive that it’s now hard to even imagine a reality where a sustainable business is profitable without overreaching invasions of privacy. But this is just one in the midst of many possible realities, which means we can change it.
Zero-data (0xD) works without personal data
In this blog we would like to quickly examine a privacy-oriented approach that turns the described model upside down. It is called **zero-data **and it can encompass everything from platforms, (d)apps, services, and more. Since there is very little written on this subject, we can attempt our own simple definition of zero-data: a 0xD approach functions without the collection of any personal data.
That means that a 0xD doesn’t require email addresses, cookies, trackers, location data, IP and MAC addresses, browser & OS types… or any other personal data in exchange for functionality. If they do require a data input, they store and access it locally on the individual’s device. Sharing this data is solely at the owner’s discretion.
We can already picture how a 0xD decentralised service like Facebook would work. Instead of one app hoarding massive amounts of personal data in one place, the individual owns one (or more) personal data storage(s). When the app is run it sends queries to the individual’s storage(s) that it has access to and pulls the data only from there. All without having any knowledge of how different end points are connected. The result is an amalgam of separate data points that form a coherent content.
Design pattern for the future
“The blockchain is about aligning incentives and decentralisation. It’s not supposed to have central parties collecting all of your personal information. It is about breaking down walls and empowering the individual.” Taylor Monahan, CEO of MyCrypto.
In short, 0xDs don’t collect any personal data, if they do, they store & access it locally and give the authority of sharing that data to the individual. With such design, it only performs the task that it was programmed to do, avoiding covertly stealing vast amounts of personal data. This new design pattern is important. It shows us that we can achieve the same level of service with no or minimal personal data.
In contexts where lots of personal data is needed, 0xDs offers a clear advantage for the individual and the society.
Right now the number of such 0xD applications is still small due to an only recently emerging trend in privacy awareness and a slowly shifting change in application design. Regardless, there are some great examples of 0xD projects out there such as MyEtherWallet, which started building their dapp in 2015, and MyCrypto, led by CEO Taylor Monahan.
As she puts it, the world’s ever-decreasing privacy is one of the major factors that interested her in the space, and is an ideal that’s built into the foundation of MyCrypto.
“Instead of being met with a plethora of notices and fields that intake all of their personal information (something an internet user in 2019 would come to expect), individuals using MyCrypto are asked to input any necessary information when they use the application and the data is subsequently removed when they close the application. No central server collects nor stores any personally identifiable information from users,” she describes the logic behind a 0xD dapp.
“More and more dapps should be adopting this approach — usage statistics are important but a product doesn’t need user-identifiable information to function. The excuse of “well, everyone else is doing it!” is a terrible one. We must strive to be better and to live by the values of this decentralised world we are building,” Monahan emphasises.
Meet Fairdrop: A zero-data file transfer decentralised application (dapp)
As we noted above, decentralisation enables new paths forward — paths that put the user in control. And to make 0xD a reality, we need products that compete with existing, centralised products.
We started at the basics. One of the most basic functions of the internet is the ability for people to send data seamlessly from one place to another. At Fair Data Society we decided to give people a way to easily send data without a centralised service via our own zero-data decentralised application, Fairdrop. It is an open-source, file transfer dapp that doesn’t collect any personal data but is just as easy to use as a centralised solution.