There are a lot of words that get thrown around when anyone mentions the word blockchain. They can range from the genuinely harsh ones like ‘scam’, or ‘Ponzi’, but for the more constructive conversations it can boil down to ‘security’, ‘trust’ and ‘privacy.’
The last words were ones that came up frequently, especially as blockchain gains more traction. One company that understands this is the Pillar Project, a vicious believer in the right of a user to have complete control over their information.
During the Blockchain Summit 2018 in London, we managed to sit down with Pillar COO, Aldin Ademovic to talk about the future of blockchain and how it can help consumers take back control over their data.
Pillar Project – The Value of Your Data
From the outset, one of the first discussion points that came up was the way in which data is currently being used.
It’s not widely discussed, but the value attached to data is something that defies quick calculation. With everything from where you live, how you pay for things to how you vote being a commodity that companies are interested in.
According to recent studies, daily data has a price-tag of at least $426 million a year.
Now, to Ademovic and Pillar, it’s not the money that’s the concern, it’s the fact that personal information is exchanged between the pairs of unreliable and often insecure hands of third-party companies.
The Dangers with Data
It’s a trust that Ademovic believes is not deserved on the part of consumers towards companies.
“People talk about blockchain the way Mainstream Media does: they obsess about the dangers of bitcoin. Well, what about the dangers of compromised servers which put millions of users at risk?”
The most recent, and painful example we’ve had has been Cambridge Analytica, a scandal that saw millions of users data compromised.
Knowing the value attached to it, Ademovic wasn’t surprised and instead points to biometrics as another avenue for consumers to suffer under third party interests and failures.
“I don’t think people were that surprised by Cambridge Analytica. But what we should be concerned about is the inclusion of biometrics and how that may invade peoples privacy, especially if it impacts on health insurance premiums.”
Another recent example of this has been MyHeritage, an Israel-based genealogy, and DNA testing company. In June, the company was responsible for the loss of over 92 million users personal information, including passwords, genetic and biometric data.
It’s for that reason that the Pillar Project exists, to serve, according to Ademovic, as “an open source, non-profit foundation, looking to give control of data back to the user.”
Take back control: How?
How Pillar Project plans to help, consumers do this is split in three ways. The first being through the creation of a fully decentralized platform, providing users with a way to keep their information safely stored.
“Most people store their tokens/data in a hard wallet the same way you would take cash out of an ATM. We want to free personal data to act very much like money in a wallet.”
The second way, according to Ademovic, is to change the way users and businesses interact when it comes to services.
For a large number of people, it’s disconcerting that there’s so much paperwork that can divide them from where they are and what they want to do. Pillar Project’s platform plans to give companies the bare minimum regarding data.
“We want to get rid of the app system and KYC’s, cutting down on forms with a simple package” Ademovic commented.
“So, for example: if I’m interacting with Amazon, all they need is my name and address. We want this to be the scenario: when you give access to data, you give access to the minimal level of data provided.”
One of the things that Pillar Project understands is that consumers, as a whole, don’t want to spend an untold amount of time sifting through their data.
The alternative? Having a virtual assistant when it comes to managing their information.
“We want our platform to allow users to create a unique profile around what they want/need,” Ademovic said regarding Pillar Project.
“Everyone wants a personal data assistant, and that’s what Pillar wants to do for people’s data.”
Pillar Project on the road ahead
Blockchain technology has garnered a great deal of popularity, attention, and experimentation over the years, with major multinational companies looking for ways that they can apply it.
But it faces some serious challenges in its immediate future, according to Ademovic, who points out the hostility it faces from mainstream media.
“I’m not exactly sure where the MSM is getting their news when it comes to blockchain/crypto, but it’s wholly negative compared to the positives that we see coming out of the sphere on a frequent basis.”
And while blockchain faces an uphill battle of getting placed in the hands of a mass public, while countering otherwise negative perspectives, at its core, Ademovic argues, blockchain provides something that companies cant: complete security and trust.
“Companies are pushing a ‘trust us narrative’. For example, Google’s old motto used to be ‘Don’t be evil’ which has since fallen by the wayside.”
“In comparison, blockchain operates on a ‘can’t be evil’ basis, because as a decentralised system with no vested interests, it simply can’t be evil.”
James is a writer for Crypto Disrupt while also working as a content/news freelancer. He’s a firm believer in the positive impact of blockchain and holds a good amount of trust in Ethereum.