Is taking back control of our personal data the real Web 3 revolution?

This is one of the great promises of Web 3: putting users back in control of their personal data. A qualitative leap could change the papers in favor of the citizens. Imagine a world where big players like Meta, Google and Amazon can no longer loot our personal data without asking for our opinion but have to buy it from us, and that would change everything. The Internet user will not only regain the supremacy of his data, but also a place in the value chain. How can the long-awaited world of Web 3 allow us to take back control of our data?

First, what is meant by “web 3”? “Web 1 is about reading. Web 2 is about reading and writing, a social web where everyone can create content. Web 3 is about owning, and we have the ability to represent digital scarcity thanks to encryption, something we didn’t have before,” Alexander explains. Stashchenko, Director of Blockchain and Cryptography at KPMG France*.

“Web 3 is powered by various blockchain technologies and cryptography and there is a financial part with cryptocurrencies. The blockchain represents the entire ecosystem of decentralized applications that are being developed”, identifies Sajida Zouari, an engineer and blockchain expert who was counted among the 40 most influential women in France in 2019 according to for Forbes.

Zero-knowledge, proven without disclosure

If the issue of digital data security was left aside when the web was born, it is because it quickly became the black gold of the 21st century. “Those who were building this network put in what they needed to achieve commercial success and it was mostly advertising based, making income from information they could extract from users,” continues the blockchain specialist.

In the blockchain world, we use virtual wallets, called wallets, in which we hold our digital assets (cryptocurrencies, NFTs, etc.). “Today, I can also get identity information in my wallet. I can connect to services, participate in financial transactions, and submit my KYC [Know your customer, un protocole de vérification de l’identité du client] With the identity that I will log into the chain that will be validated according to the protocols,” she describes.

Today, everyone has already connected to a site via their Facebook or Google account. The problem is that it gives a monopoly on our digital identities to these big players on the web. The idea is to reproduce the same principle, but instead of connecting to our Facebook or Google accounts, we connect to our encrypted wallet on which the data is based and encrypted. with the Zero knowledgewhich is a very common term and its principle is to provide evidence without disclosing information, we can prove an element of our identity without revealing our personal data.

“We can access a website because we have reached the age of majority without mentioning our date of birth,” explains Sajida Al-Zawari. Our encrypted wallet keeps our personal information in an encrypted form. The site asks “Is this user over 18?” It confirms the wallet without revealing anything. The information is approved because it has already been authenticated upstream and is encrypted.

There are already solutions such as Anima, the protocol of the French company Synaps, which facilitates recognition of the Web 3. By creating your authorized identity with Anima, you can create a kind of digital double that represents your identity on the Internet and avoid having to give our information each time to access the sites. It’s like a swipe that allows you to go through airport security multiple times. Verified once, we have proof of it, and no need to prove the same elements of our identity again.

“Personal data is not readable, it is encrypted. I am the only one who can decrypt this information with my private key,” continues the blockchain expert. Now that I put them on MetaMask [un portefeuille associé à la blockchain Ethereum, la deuxième plus importante après Bitcoin]If I am asked for proof of address, I have this information in my wallet and can choose to share it in an accurate manner.”

We’re not saying we no longer share anything on the Web 3. We decide what we share and for how long. Better yet, we can even consider getting paid. Web 3 players have already started developing applications that adapt to our current uses in Web 2.

Buying data without accessing it

The Vetri app, for example, mirrors the cookie model. The user decides whether or not to open his personal information to receive targeted advertisements that can serve him and by the way be compensated. All this without disclosing data. “The Vetri app is like a vault. I never have access to the data, and even if I choose to share it, nobody sees that data,” Jonathan Lamas, blockchain entrepreneur and CEO of the Vetri Foundation details. When a user downloads the app, they are given surveys to do profiling and let them By paying for their time. Tomorrow, it’s going to be the same for the data. And it’s not because we’re profiling that we know who the user is.”

All information is encrypted in the form of X, Y, Z in the wallet. “Every time an advertiser searches for certain data, it determines which attributes they are looking for. Since we don’t know what they are looking for and we don’t know what the user has in their app, we send what they are looking for to everyone and if the phone recognizes the attributes X, Y, Z It receives an alert. It describes it as being up to him to accept it or reject it. In this way, the user’s data is protected. The advertiser who buys this data can never access this data, only to the attributes of the data. But what it seeks is to reach its goal. This avoids seeing the big players resell the data that the user could have revealed to him, remains encrypted despite everything.

“Here, we allow the user to be paid when they receive something relevant,” Jonathan Lamas concludes. Imagine that he is shown information about insurance or banking investments and that he needs it. Not only does the advertiser have access to the tag, but the internet user is also paid to receive the information they may need. It’s a win, except for Gafa.

The opposite of the economic model of web 2

“We’re not saying we won’t play anymore. We are playing the game, but now we have a slightly more important place in the value chain. The user has been taken out of it, and all the money that can be made has been collected from their personal data. It’s still strange,” says Sajida Zouari. That the user does not touch anything and has no opinion.” The concern for apps like Vetri is to raise awareness among the general public. Changing mindsets is the nerve of war. “The debate will not be about technology, but about: Do we want to do it as a community?, Alexander’s nuance. Stachenko. Web 3 can be used to enhance data tokens [un processus visant à sécuriser des données grâce à la blockchain, l’utilisateur obtient un jeton qui peut être vendu, échangé ou stocké] And let people sell it. There is possibility and feasibility, and then there is the realist who will oppose some of the frictions of this model. It is necessary to stick to these technological solutions, and for the population to be mature enough to agree to the transition to the age of decentralization and cryptography that may at first glance seem inaccessible.

Not to mention that the concept of personal data is very broad. The GDPR website defines it as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person” and distinguishes direct data from indirect data. “Personal data in and of itself is very ethereal. Are we able to materialize all of this objectively? No. We don’t know what personal data is objectively, there is always a qualification that will be subjective. Can a token track something with certainty and can’t Follow it by definition? Alexander Stachenko asks. It is difficult to secure our digital traces, all navigation data for example. If Web 3 has not yet solved the whole problem, it is advancing the problem of decentralized identity and that is already a lot. A reflection of the economic model of Web 2 that is likely to harm wallets Gafa strongly if the public decides to seize it.

* and co-founder and board member of ADAN, an association representing and developing the digital asset ecosystem in France and Europe.

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