Reclaiming your private data in Web3

As the Fair Data Society puts it, we are laborers in the data economy. Our personal data — basically, the digital blueprint of our lives — gets collected by platforms we interact with, most often in a non-transparent way. At best, it is used to improve our user experience. At worst, our privacy gets breached, monetized and even weaponized against us.

It all started with the emergence and growth of the user-generated web, as seemingly free social media networks, search engines and companies saw a new opportunity of profiting and went into the business of gathering, storing, analyzing and selling user data. By 2022, the data market had grown immensely. According to Statista, a total of 64.2 zettabytes of data had been created, consumed and put online worldwide by 2020. By 2025, this number is expected to exceed 180 zettabytes.

Talking about the evolution of data sovereignty in a profit-driven climate, professor Sabina Leonelli said:

“Individual agency in the data economy has shrunk, with a few organizations dominating the conditions under which information can be exchanged and used, to the detriment of individual rights and collective action.”

Indeed, over three-quarters of the global search market is under the control of the Google search engine and over 3.6 billion individual users across four social media platforms owned by Meta.

Course for data sovereignty

Big Tech companies recognized the pressure and increasing regulatory demand, so in 2018, the Data Transfer Project was born. Six contributors — Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and SmugMug — committed to enabling seamless data transfer among platforms via a common framework with open-source code. Still, it was just the first step toward users reclaiming their data.

In the past few years, the demand for transparency, trustlessness, security and decentralization has formed across multiple sectors of our life: from finance to organizational management to data storage. This is evident in the blockchain technologies and solutions such as decentralized finance, decentralized autonomous organizations and Web3, which aim to grant users full control over their digital lives and protect the basic human right to data privacy.

As a closing note, it would be important to emphasize that this is a collaborative effort — one bigger than a single individual or organization — and the whole Web3 space should work together. This way, we can start reclaiming privacy for the individual and bringing trust into the data economy on a societal level.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Gregor Žavcer has extensive experience in community building, brand identity, marketing, business development, blockchain technology, and decentralized economy. He became involved in the Ethereum community early on, which led him to create his own decentralized data management startup. Today, Gregor is the operation lead at Swarm, a decentralized storage and communication system for a sovereign digital society.