2020 technology innovations likely to solve data privacy issue

Written By: Bijai K Jayarajan
Delhi Updated: Dec 26, 2019, 01:15 PM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

The issue of digital privacy will be solved by solving the issue of data ownership on the internet. 

Today one of the loudest talking points globally is around privacy of data, rather around lack of it. On a daily basis, roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data gets generated by the Internet users collectively. Is all of this data private? Where is it stored? And ultimately, who owns this data?   

These are questions that the world is waking up to. And the slow realisation that almost all this digital data generated by private internet users around the world is owned by just 4 to 5 large companies is startling everyone

This is the result of all the technology innovations that happened in the first decade of this millennium, that is, between 2000 and 2009. There were big technology innovations in the world in this period and a lot of innovative organisations were born, such as Google, Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These companies provided effective and instant solutions such as easy access to information, ability to socially networking online and instant communication at large, and as a result, they are being used by a few billion people around the world. 

However, the construct of these innovations is such that the ownership of digital data being generated by these billions of people gets consolidated on the platforms provided by these few large companies. In consolidation lay the dangers of data misuse, breach and theft which increasingly became commonplace in the subsequent decade – from 2010 to 2019. 

That current decade which is now coming to an end in 2019 has also seen the world waking up to the fact that the ability of these large corporations to store, access and analyse private digital data of the masses has reached dangerous proportions. Their understanding of billions of people’s preferences, relationships, likes, dislikes, prejudices and leanings, etc has evolved them from mere digital platforms into a powerful position of shaping social perspectives and influencing national events of humanity at large. A cyber-attack on the security systems of these companies also jeopardises the data of millions of private individuals in one go. 

There are attempts being made towards creating privacy of personal data – such as GDPR of Europe, CCPA of California, PDPA of Singapore, etc. But these solutions lie within the current ownership structure of the internet where the access and control of the large volume of data continue to remain in the hands of a few large corporations, resulting in these solutions being ineffective or sub-par. Ownership and access continue to remain massively consolidated. 

As Marx had espoused the redistribution of the ownership of means of production in the 19th century, we now need a new Marx to propagate the idea of redistribution of the ownership of digital data in this 21st century. Only this will create an effective solution to the critical issue of privacy of data. 

In the next decade beginning in 2020, there will come a real technology innovation that will lead to private and individual ownership of space and data on the internet – an innovative concept that doesn’t exist today. 

As is the case in the physical world where a person who owns a house or a car or even a mobile phone has complete ownership and access rights over it, technology innovation is due to bringing in a similar concept in the digital world. Such a tech revolution in the online world will enable people to do away with dependence on large organisations for storing their data. 

The issue of digital privacy will be solved by solving the issue of data ownership on the internet. 

(Views expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

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