We need to break Big Tech’s data broker industry

3 min

85 shares, 146 points

Democracy is under siege. Our digital fingerprints are being sold. And digital ownership is being crushed by the small group of tech giants who control the internet as we know it.

The internet was one of the most powerful and promising creations in human history. Providing the ability to connect the world, democratize information and enhance the potential of so many aspects of our lives. But with innovation came a shift — now, when accessing information online, the user hands over personal data points in exchange for this information.

As the internet evolved into what we now know as Web 2.0, it also created competing proprietary platforms of user-generated content each presiding over their own “walled garden,” while the advent of social media changed how we connect and interact.

The existing incentive structure of today’s internet has allowed for the creation and growth of a small number of billion-dollar, highly centralized tech companies effectively building a data broker industry. They are ubiquitous in our everyday lives and their only goal is relentless growth achieved by maximizing advertising revenue — at all costs.

It is time for a new technology that will give more power to the consumer, more freedom to developers and more opportunity for innovation.

To achieve this growth, they continuously need more of our data. Every day, from every person, on every possible subject, data is harvested and traded with little regard to the individual’s privacy or well-being. And we have freely given Big Tech access to this data. Conventional social media platforms are run as centralized services by these Big Tech corporations motivated and monetized by advertising revenue.

As a result, they are in control of a user’s experience: the content displayed in users’ feeds, how personal data is exploited for advertising purposes, and the connections users make online. It is estimated that online advertising firms collect about 72 million data points on each of us by the time we reach age 13. We are freely giving away millions of pieces of information about ourselves without even recognizing that we are doing so.

This is no better for developers. The current state of the internet limits developers’ ability for creative control. It has descended into a platform that relies on innovators having to compromise their values in exchange for access. They need to gain permission and seek approval before their applications can have access to the API. Ultimately this means someone else — the centralized entities of Big Tech — is in control of whether or not developers’ applications succeed.

Increasingly, consumer protection agencies, the intelligence community, U.S. Congress, and U.S. federal agencies are showing concern — and so should we all. We now stand at a fork in the road. It is time for a new technology that will give more power to the consumer, more freedom to developers and more opportunity for innovation. It is time for a new web protocol that is user-focused, open source and decentralized.

The next iteration of the web, or web3 as it’s now known, will be a decentralized, user-driven, open network where information can be exchanged and networks will be interoperable. And most importantly, the user will own and control their personal data. The global web3 blockchain market size is expected to reach $2.25 billion in 2023 and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 47.1%. It is expected to be worth over $30 billion by 2030.

Solutions such as a Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) are essential to return power from the centralized authority that controls platforms to the people using the platforms. DSNP is an open, free protocol that enables each user to hold ownership over their data and interactions. Hence, personal data is no longer a corporate asset but is owned and controlled by the user in a community-led public infrastructure.

DSNP also gives developers the capacity to realize the dream of creating impactful technology that benefits users and solves real-world problems, all without being held captive to the interests of Big Tech behemoths.

DSNP provides a way to return to the web as it was envisioned at the outset. A web protocol that is focused on the common good, whereby no one entity can control access, determine pricing or revoke permission. DSNP capitalizes on the best attributes of blockchain but with the ability to scale so that creators can align their desire to innovate and problem-solve in an environment that benefits every individual.

With a free open protocol, and by leveraging blockchain technology, developers can regain control over their applications and develop open source code that is shared publicly, resulting in a collaborative development process.

We are at a pivotal time for the transformation of technology, and developers will have a critical role in building a foundation for a safer, healthier internet that empowers people over platforms. Imagine an internet where creativity, problem-solving and user experience dictate success. On an open and free protocol, developers can avoid navigating the existing rules put forth by Big Tech entities and instead focus on the creative future of what the next-generation internet can be. What are we waiting for?

Source: Tech Crunch

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85 shares, 146 points

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