Data privacy is becoming increasingly more important in people’s minds.

January 28th was Data Privacy Day, held to create awareness around data privacy and trust. With scandals in the media regarding distribution of personal information and the introduction of GDPR, consumers find themselves concerned with data privacy challenges.

This extends to anybody using the internet: from a smart device, social media or an entertainment platform.

A good choice for data storage and protection is blockchain, as it provides a reliable way to protect your information. Because it has no single point of attack, it allows users to store data in a method that is much more secure than traditional data storage.

Blockchain removes intermediaries from the situation. This means there is less chance of somebody else tampering with your private information.

Uses for consumers

Some companies are already using blockchain for data privacy. Shopin, for example, wants to allow users to control their own data. It uses blockchain and artificial intelligence to personalise the shopping experience. The idea is that consumers offer their own data to retailers, who must purchase it to use it.

Part of the problem surrounding data privacy is that retailers can take our information with us knowing. Sometimes there are agreements that yes, you can take my data. This is usually paired with a very difficult-to-find ‘opt out’ button and a complex series of agreements.

But how much control do we have over whether companies really do take our data, what they do with it and whether the intention is purely marketing?

Controlling your own data

It should be simple, right?

As consumers, we should be able to control our own personal information and choose who has access to it.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality of the situation.

Under the EU’s GDPR, you are able to request your own data held by a company. There is also the ‘right to be forgotten,’ where under certain circumstances you can request that a company erases your own personal information.

This isn’t easy for consumers, though, and many of us – let’s be honest – don’t want the effort of going through the process.

There isn’t always an awareness when companies take information. For instance, technology that uses artificial intelligence (such as Siri or Google) can obtain information about you from simple things based on your answers or actions.

There is a simple solution, like Shopin’s, where we own our information until we offer it or sell it.

Data collection isn’t inherently a bad thing, and abolishing data collection would be difficult and (generally) unnecessary. Your data can, however, be disadvantageous or potentially dangerous in the wrong hands.

Blockchain is ideal for owning our own information, because it’s permanent and ultimately visible. You can see where your data is going and to who. There are no secret exchanges behind the scenes which the company might not share with you.

Is this realistic?

Some companies (Shopin, ReBloc) are doing it already, or are at least in the conceptual phase. The problem is that, right now, companies can take their customer’s information without being charged. Why would they use a system that requires them to pay?

There are certain benefits for retailers, such as access to very specific information about people that can be used for personalised, targeted ads.

But unless it becomes law, it’s unlikely that companies are going to adopt this method on a widespread level.

Nonetheless, the concept shows how blockchain may be able to help us create a better and more secure future.

To find out more ways that blockchain technology could be useful to you, check out our product STAMP.