The recent challenges Facebook have been experiencing using our personal data are not unique to them, but they do raise the issue as to who controls our data, how is it used, and to whom it is being sold.
It has been known for a long time that companies make assumptions about our spending patterns and risk ratings. While it is now illegal, for years insurance companies rated lady drivers as lower risk, therefore charging lower premiums for car their insurance. What people are less aware of is your car insurance price can be effected by your email . In a recent article by The Sun newspaper in the UK, it stated that if you had a Hotmail address, your car insurance premiums would be higher. When The Sun challenged the insurance companies they said that historically it was younger people who had Hot Mail email addresses. More worrying than this, is that some insurance companies will alter your premium based on you name and will for example quote higher premiums if your surname is Mohammed!
Facebook, it seems, have sold data to Cambridge Analytics, the same company that worked with Trump , helping him to become the most powerful man in the world — allegedly it improperly obtained information on 50 million Facebook users. For years companies like Facebook and Google have been giving free access to their service to gather data and then resell this data to the highest buyer. It was estimated that just in 2016 Facebook was making over $4 from each person who had an account with them, and their model of collecting data and then selling it has made them one of the biggest companies in the world. Google meanwhile seem to be making more than double this ie $10 per registered user on Google in one year- so why can firms that offer Tokens and Cryptocurrencies change this?
Well, to buy and sell Tokens you typically need a wallet, whether it be to participate in a firm that wishes to raise capital via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), or maybe to use the Tokens that you have been given in one of the many Air Drops where one is literally given FREE Tokens as a marketing campaign to get your attention. A wallet is how you hold Tokens and it can either be a ‘hot wallet’ i.e. connected to the internet and so potentially liable to hacking, or a ‘cold wallet’ which is like a USB stick and only connected and vulnerable to be hacked when you plug it in to a device that connects you to the internet. There are now over 21 million wallets that hold Tokens globally and CNN are predicting that by 2024 there could be over 200 million people holding wallets — most of these are run by firms that have carried out an ICO. One of the other advantages of a wallet is that it potentially gives owners control over their data, enabling them to share their information with whom they want, and even be paid for doing so. It will, in time, also allow one carry out transactions like voting, changing bank account provider or utility provider more efficiently and faster.