Cryptocurrency has seen a lot of growth recently. In the last few years, we’ve gone from a few hundred people using non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a few thousand people running Ethereum nodes, and maybe a lot more people who own bitcoin.
It’s great that there’s an online world where anyone can make, build, and explore without having to ask. That value is being made, and freedom is being kept. Privacy is being lost in the mix, but that’s not a bad thing.
A lot of people are excited about Web 3, which includes things like play-to-win games and collectibles as well as decentralized finance (DeFi). But Web 3 seems to be making the same mistakes as Web 2. Although Web 3 was said to be a way to stop the dangers of the internet becoming more centralized by letting people own their data and be rewarded for the value they make, these promises aren’t being kept. It may get even worse now that some of the biggest builders of Web 2 are moving into Web 3. Read more; How to Stay Sane During a Crypto Crash
Tor Bair is the founder of the Secret Foundation, a group that works to build, research, and spread open-source, privacy-first technologies. This is part of CoinDesk’s “Privacy Week.”
If you have a lot of user data, you can make money by selling access to it as an expensive product. This is how the Web 2 economy was built. It gave people almost unlimited power to make content and connect with people all over the world, while giving advertisers a captive audience. Companies like Facebook and Google made billions of dollars and built “walled gardens” around this arbitrage. They then changed their names (Meta and Alphabet) to separate them from the platforms that made them rich.
Users’ privacy wasn’t just ignored – it was abandoned along the way, too. As soon as the whistleblowers from Cambridge Analytica came forward, we learned for the first time how our data was being used and sold, sometimes at the expense of democracy itself. Almost every Web 2 company has had huge privacy and data breaches, from Uber to Equifax to LinkedIn to Alibaba, and so on. Read also; How to Invest in the Metaverse
Web 3 hasn’t been able to solve this main problem, even though it has a lot of great promises. In fact, the blockchain world is a whole lot more open than the Web 2. It isn’t just Cambridge Analytica that can see your data when you look at a blockchain. It’s anyone who looks at the blockchain, not just Cambridge Analytica. Public-by-default means that users must give up control of their own data by default, too.
This means that Web 3 isn’t becoming more user-friendly after all. People who use public-by-default systems and blockchains get closer and closer to winner-take-all structures. Whoever has the money and resources to make the best use of all the public data will get the most out of it. People who have more money get more money, but people who don’t have as much money lose their power.
Several Web 3 companies, like Chainalysis, have made billions on this play. Miners, the computers that keep and order blockchains, are often ahead of other users because they have a lot of information that other people don’t have.
Web 2 companies like Meta, which used to be Facebook, are clearly taking advantage of the next multi-trillion dollar opportunity by focusing all of their attention on the emerging metaverse. It’s the same companies that broke your online privacy in the age of social media that are now trying to control our open “metaverse,” with war chests of billions of dollars and the goal of taking trillions.
These are two bad options: an open metaverse that leaks all data by design, or a metaverse owned and run by the same companies that use users’ data all the time. We need to fight against both.
As we watch the metaverse grow and build its foundation, we need to be aware of and work to improve on it. Web 3 and the open metaverse must be built with privacy in mind, protect users by default, and let them choose and benefit from how their data is used.
Users from all over the world are already building and using private, decentralized, and self-sustaining apps that truly empower them, and it’s not just a dream. The goal we want to achieve has been in the works since 2015, and now is the best time to join us in our fight.
We should only make metaverses that protect our privacy, and we should only live in metaverses that are worth making and worth living in.