If you’ve surfed the net recently, there has been a lot of talk of something known as decentralized identity and it’s rise to popularity thanks to the DEFI movement. But for those not familiar with cryptocurrency and blockchain, they may have also heard of something known as universal identity. Universal identity and decentralized identity may sound the same, but they are nowhere near similar in the way they function. It’s critical to know the difference so that consumers can be aware of what they are agreeing to when they hear either of these terms.
As of the writing of this article, Universal ID is still a relatively new implementation that most people don’t know about. In general, regulation always lags behind the invention of new technologies, and it’s unlikely we will see anything to prevent this massive farming of data for quite some time. On the other hand, technology is very responsive to these types of issues, and it’s likely we will see a rise in browsers, or other tools, which block to use of Universal ID once it is a bit more widespread. But in the meantime, the sad truth is that your data will likely be farmed and stored without your permission just as in the beginning of the cookie era. All to save the multi-billion-dollar ad industry.
Living in a world where industry trumps privacy is tough, and this brings us back to the DEFI movement. DEFI is all about returning the power, and ultimately money, back into the hands of the consumer. The most famous aspect of this is of course the invention of a decentralized currency known as Bitcoin, but this also includes a number of other decentralized options.
As previously mentions, people often confuse decentralized identity with universal identity. But unlike Universal ID which is permissionless data farming of customers, decentralized identity is all about moving identity back to the blockchain and putting control of your identity back in your hands. Of course, it will take a long time to implement this, but basically it would enable you to surf the web, make purchases, and perform actions like registering to vote without allowing any other industry to collect or store your data. A number of decentralized identity programs are currently being tested in Eastern European countries and so far, they have reportedly been well accepted. It will likely take a few more years before this solution makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean, but it is on its way.
That’s not good enough though, because Universal ID is already being implemented. So, what can you do right now? Well you can start by switching out the websites your currently use and instead use apps based on the blockchain. Of course, it’s unlikely that you will find a blockchain replacement for everything, but there are a number out there that will severely limit a company’s ability to collect your data. A prime example would be using LBRY.tv instead of YouTube, or shopping on OpenBazaar instead of on Amazon.com. IBM also filed for a patent in 2019 for a blockchain based search engine, so hopefully that will be on the market soon so you can leave spyware like Google behind. There are also a number of DEFI banking apps which can be used to lessen your exposure to the US banking system. Just make sure you do your research before you give any of these companies your hard-earned money.
It’s a bummer that there aren’t ways in which to avoid Universal ID completely which are available immediately. But much of what companies are banking on is the fact that people don’t know about it. And the ones that do, don’t care. This is why if you care about who farms and makes money off your data, it’s important to step up and say something, because nothing will be done if we just sit back and let it happen. And even though you can’t avoid it completely, there are steps which you can take now to avoid some areas of data collection, thus lowering the income these companies generate.
There are many more blockchain technologies on the market than those listed in this article. If you want to find out more, please scroll through the blog on MintDice.com to see some of the other ways you can engage in the decentralized blockchain world.