Facebook could unwittingly be the world’s best advertisement for blockchain. Even as the social media giant tries to shore up its privacy regime after data securities issues exposed the data of about 3 million users, privacy and security are likely to go along with every other Internet-based company. The good news is there may be a silver lining: The constant drumbeat of high-profile hacks of companies like Facebook, Target and Equifax could accelerate the tipping point when the public embraces the notion that the Internet we depend on is truly broken, and when alternatives like blockchain gain greater acceptance.
The problem with the public Internet is that its architecture and our desire for privacy are utterly incompatible. With every high-profile hack, that becomes more obvious. When we share vital information such as our name, date of birth, address, and social security number, that sensitive data is passed to third-party companies that require it. This creates two additional problems: We have to repeatedly fill out forms every time we interact with a new organization, and the firms that make copies and store our information in centralized databases are easy targets for hackers.
The public-private architecture of a blockchain clearly defines and improves the privacy of data in a digital format online. Blockchain technology creates counterfeit-proof information on a network we can trust. Instead of sharing our date of birth again and again, we have one permanent record of this information on the blockchain and then give temporary permission to access the official record when needed.