Our current surveillance economy is quite alluring: smooth user experiences, free services, just some harmless data collection going on. I didn’t do anything wrong, so why should I care?
Ah, well: times can be changing. Overturning Roe vs Wade opened pathways for US states to enact anti-abortion legislation the Taliban would be proud of. The good thing: non-compliance will not (yet) lead to a public stoning. But literally overnight your status may have changed from patient to criminal perpetrator.
That’s where our surveillance economy finally goes fully Dark Mirror. In the spotlight: menstruation trackers. They help you to get pregnant or to prevent unwanted offspring. Or, in the eyes of a prosecutor in an antiabortionist state: they collect incriminating evidence. Actually, it’s the users collecting the evidence themselves. The apps make it just easily accessible.
To be fair, not all apps are created equal. On the surface, GDPR may have caused an epidemic of toothless cookie banners. On the backend side, compliant apps prevent those kinds of data free for alls, which are the backbones of targeted advertising and jackbooted police knocking at your door pushing your digital past in your face, because they really know what you did last summer.
So how to prevent this? In the case of GDPR, the Europeans took by heart that Google not only had started with their “Don’t be evil”-claim – but finally dropped it somewhere on the way. GDPR’s asks for a somewhat less ambiguous approach: privacy by design. Every piece of personal data you don’t collect can’t be abused. Which might at least prevent some nefarious mobile games, which collect any kind of data besides your score in evading subway trains or fighting orks. Like you hanging out at this abortion clinic, which in the eyes of a prosecutor may look like probable cause for further investigations.
But Self Sovereign Identity puts the privacy by design aspect on a different level. It’s your data. Only you hold the keys. There’s no custodial aspect. Nothing to be subpoenaed here.
Good thing there’s an infrastructure growing to support the self-custody of data. DeSoc, the Decentralized Society, may be where web3 is headed. Especially after the latest blowdown weeded out some of the more blatant get rich quick schemes.
I’m quite aware of some of the detractors, mostly out of the progressive-left spectrum of the tech establishment. Instead of acknowledging, that crypto and web3 finally enable economically feasible ways to build and maintain open source software creating open data, they concentrate on a plethora of ideological flaws and by criticizing a handful of bad apple trees they dismiss the whole forest.
Haha, got you, I hear some already snickering. Isn’t putting menstruation data open and immutably on a blockchain even worse? All to be connected with your public wallet, where a gazillion other data points are to be connected, with your ENS name being the final nail in your privacy coffin.
True. Of course you can create a setup, which combines our current surveillance economy with immutability. But that’s only going to happen if we let the same type of amoral market forces gobble up this tech as well.