Facebook privacy leaks continue to erupt, hackers indicate price to sell chat messages. This recent news is bursting out and each user’s information is priced at 10 cents. It is striking that, Facebook, a company with a market value of over 3 trillion dollars, its user’s data is being sold at such a cheap price.
In this “digital age”, we have gradually become a “transparent person” in the face of technology and privacy sometimes seems to be somewhat precious. Someone once argued that if you use the product for free, the company will get the data; which is a fair transaction. Naturally, opponents have not understood why it is so important to protect privacy. Today, let’s talk about: Who should really own your data?
Our general understanding is that data should belong to the platform. For example, when you buy a piece of cloth on an e-commerce platform such as Amazon, the platform also owns your data It seems very convenient for consumers, they pay for the product and the platform ships the goods to them. However, in addition to the money transacted, personal data remained on this platform, including names, phone numbers, locations, payment methods, spending amounts, and the colors or the styles you like.
How do these websites handle your data? They may combine your data with data from tens of thousands of people in the surrounding area to create a variety of analysis. After the accumulation of these data, soon, this platform knows the area where you buy clothes, how many couriers should be equipped, what kind of clothes are the most profitable here. In the long run, in addition to buying clothes, they can also provide more goods and services for you.
Now you see, this data is of little use to you personally. But when it accumulates more and more, the dimension becomes richer, it then turns into something very worthwhile.
The secret of Internet companies is here. The most common phenomenon is to accurately push ads to you through the analysis of such data. For example, a news information push company in China, Toutiao, which means today’s headline, is operating through these data. It is said that there was 15 billion advertising revenue in 2017 and the goal of 2018 will hit 50 billion. Look, this is a lot of money, but with so many Toutiao’s users, this significant sum of money has nothing to do with them.
In fact, in the Internet world, this is no secret. Jeff Bezos who is Amazon’s CEO, publicly said that Amazon is not an e-commerce company, but a big-data technology company. There are also many famous entrepreneurs who have repeatedly told us that future data is oil and gold. As a result, the Internet company is actually collecting oil, not pointing to selling clothes to make money. Many Internet platforms even subsidize you in turn, because the data you leave behind is very worthwhile.
Speaking of which, don’t you think that one thing is bizarre? On one hand, you feel data is not worthwhile, on the other hand is the Internet company, they take your data, earn a lot of cash. Doesn’t it seem that something is wrong?
It reminds me of a little story: When the European colonists first arrived in the Americas, they madly plundered the local gold. It really took away every piece of gold and every gold powder in the Indian temple. The local aborigines could not understand this kind of behavior. Gold could not be eaten or drunk. It was too soft to produce tools or weapons. At most, it could be a little decoration. Why were Europeans so crazy about it?
You see, are these local American aborigines a bit like our state today? You think the data is worthless, but Internet companies don’t think so. In their world, data is worthwhile like gold.
Let’s take a look at the essence of the deal: users enjoy the service and leave behind their data. In the past, “users are God.” Nowadays, in the eyes of many Internet companies, users are just the data cows they raise. If you are using a service for free, you are not a user but a data cow.
For example，Google Photos offers unlimited photo backups for everyone as long as the photos are under 16MP, but why does Google only allow free storage of photos below 16MP? Because when pictures are too high in resolution, the value of the data they can create is not improved, and the cost is much higher. So Google doesn’t encourage users to store ultra-clear photos. It can also be seen that the purpose of Google’s free service is to allow data cows to upload more data. Imagine what Google might do with this data?
As a reminder, AI companies now need a lot of training data, because the more data they have, the more accurate the algorithm is identified, and the training data includes pictures …
You might think that it is fair, isn’t economics always the case? Everyone just needs what they need. I have access to cheaper goods and services and Internet companies have access t to our data. Isn’t this a fair exchange? From another perspective, if an Internet company succeeds, its profit margin is very high. The secret is that the data is too worthwhile. Although the data comes from the user, it does not need to pay money back to the user, so it’s highly profitable. What is this? This is the money earned by using cognitive difference. What is the cognitive difference? It is the same thing that someone sees its value, but the others do not see it. There is an arbitrage space in between, which is the cognitive difference.
Can this cognitive difference continue forever? Just like the local American aborigines of that year, would forever feel that gold being worthless? Of course not, the cognitive difference would be filled out sooner or later. Internet companies use the cognitive difference to make money. How much does this money have to be pay to users? Otherwise, this kind of transaction is not sustainable. This is the general trend of market evolution. The data is so useful to Internet companies and so worthwhile, can future users ask Internet companies to pay for the data they left behind?
If this data right awakens, will Internet companies’ profits be so high?
You might say that if the Internet company just doesn’t pay the user money, we have no choice. After all, we can’t do anything without their service. No, the data right will definitely wake up. Because there is another factor that we have ignored.
That is the data security issue. Is the data you left behind really harmless to you? It is not true, right? For example, if you search the Internet for the price of the house, you may receive a phone call from various housing agencies. After you have just bought a baby cot, the sales of other parenting products may be on the way.
In March 2018, Facebook admitted that it had leaked 50 million user data to a data analysis company called Cambridge Analytics. After the company got their hands on the data, it analyzed the users through the algorithms of psychologists and programmers. Then they accurately posted news and campaign information through emails and finally helped Trump win the election. Even the presidential election of a country can be manipulated, do you still think that data is really harmless to you?
Sometimes you have left a trace of data on the Internet. Others can track you at any time based on this data, catching you, deceiving you, even hurting you. What is happening is possible. If such dangerous events accumulate more and become social nuisances, social pressure will inevitably lead to national legislation to prevent Internet companies from abusing data.
This is not an alarmist. In fact, this incident has already taken place in Europe this year.
In May 2018, the European Union introduced a piece of legislation on data called The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There is such a provision in the regulations. Simply put, if you log in to an Internet company’s platform, you can choose not to leave your data. As long as you decide not to be recorded, the most sensitive information about you will not be recorded.
Europeans do this today and we will undoubtedly do the same tomorrow. As long as the data has a much more harmful event to the user, the awakening of the data right will happen very quickly. There may have two consequences: First, either the Internet company’s data business is challenging to maintain because you can’t collect complete data; Or second, it has to pay for the user’s data; the more money the company earns, the more money their users get.
This is the inevitable trend of the development of the Internet industry, which is the privatization of data rights. Internet companies are now able to make their quick bucks, simply because their users are not aware of the situation. However, the master of the data will always wake up, the cognitive difference will still disappear. Anyway, the universal economic law will always work, all high profits will ever return to the average.
Besides, GDPR only tells all technology companies on the surface that they can’t do this, but it has not entirely solved this problem from the mechanism, because Internet companies can perform it internally and secretly, as long as they are not legally forensic. I dare to say that Internet companies still have the motivation to do so for high profits.
So how can we completely eliminate this behavior from the mechanism? It is decentralization. Because as long as there is a central presence, the central server may benefit from the data. Decentralized, the data is stored on a large number of variable nodes, and the user’s data can achieve true privacy.
I and Bill founded the decentralized storage project PPIO, which is to encrypt the user’s files with their own private keys, divide them into different file fragments, and then distribute them on multiple storage nodes in the center. Since there is no central organization to store complete data, there is no way to process user data; while the storage node stores fragmented and high-strength encrypted file fragments, there is no way to do anything. In this way, the problem of privacy can be fundamentally solved.
PPIO — — Your data is your freedom, let’s return data rights to everyone.
As decentralized storage, PPIO not only can truly protect user privacy, but also do more. I have described it in my other articles and please feel free to check out my other articles.
Finally, One question. Who do you think should own your data?