Web3 - Reclaiming Data Sovereignty

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Nalanda Buddhist monastic university – a library existing from 427 until 1197 CE. An ancient cautionary tale of centralised data loss.

Data Collection: From Ancient to Modern Times

On October 31st, 2008, an anonymous white paper was quietly released into the wild. At that moment, very few, if anyone, knew this was a pivotal moment for future generations. It described a new form of money intended for peer-to-peer payments that innately solved the double-spend problem. This development had important implications beyond eliminating the risk of cryptocurrency being spent more than once.

Centuries prior to this white paper, the final wisps of smoke drifted into the air, marking the loss of millions of painstakingly handwritten manuscripts engulfed by flames. Though the exact number is unknown, some sources reported the Nalanda library housed over 9 million manuscripts. By comparison, the library of Alexandria only had an estimated 200,000 manuscripts and 700,000 books. Historians believe the Buddhist monastic university of Nalanda was the world's first residential university, operating from 427 until 1197 CE.

Centralised Control: Up in Flames to Under Fire

Both the Bitcoin white paper release and Nalanda library fires are important events in the history of centralised data collection. The first was dramatic, but now almost forgotten. The second was initially quiet, but now echoes ever louder as blockchain and decentralisation increasingly become part of our future.

Today the vast libraries of centralised information representing human product, value and identity sit in the control of big data. Though not at risk of being lost to flames, our data is subject to government and mainstream narrative censorship, subjugation and control. A week does not go by without a story about someone falling victim to misuse and outright abuse of their data. Whether it’s a data leak or private information unwittingly signed over for profit, the basic rights of privacy and freedom are under fire.

Web3: Empowering Data Sovereignty

The groundbreaking innovation beginning with Bitcoin and cryptography has spawned a new paradigm for society and organisations. Now, not only are we free of the fate that befell the treasures of ancient Nalanda, but we can also escape the strangle-hold of big data. With Web3, data sovereignty is a core value. The internet is built with an infrastructure and ethos of the individual’s and the collective’s data. In other words, the collective efforts and shared beliefs of individuals ensure everyone’s right to privacy.

Let’s take a deeper look at data sovereignty, how autonomy of data can be reclaimed, and how decentralised data actually works. This blog is part one of a three part series, so keep your eye out for future posts. In addition to exploring web3, we will share how individuals and organisations can become part of this the new overarching Web3 economy.

Big Data: Exploiting Your Privacy

Data is a very impersonal word. Big Data conjures up an image of indistinguishable and seemingly endless volumes of bits, bytes, kb, mb and so on. Words like ‘anonymised’ and ‘abstracted’ hide an alarming reality. Our efforts and essence is captured through our data, which has become commoditised and ‘useful’ to others.

The truth is that data is deeply personal. It’s the hours poured out daily in workplaces. It’s the personal documents, video calls, and phone conversations shared with friends. Its the videos shared with family of your children running along the beach. Like gold that was extracted without concern for those directly impacted to generated profit for nations and corporations, your data is exploited for others’ profit. With commercial and control implications, your data today is scourged in the digital mines of centralised Big Data. Isn’t your data worthy of some dignity and respect?

Decentralised Data:  Reclaiming Your Data Privacy

Decentralised data is stored, accessed and controlled by whoever puts the data into a decentralised data network. Decentralised data is dispersed across a growing plethora of nodes, secured through cryptography and blockchain technology. The more people and organisations participate, the more nodes come online. Increasing nodes online enables greater decentralisation and security of the data held within. 

In our opinion, Swarm is at the cutting edge of this movement for decentralised data and the economy of data sovereignty. Swarm is a decentralised data storage and distribution technology, ready to power the next generation of censorship-resistant, unstoppable, serverless decentralised applications. Data that is saved to Swarm is distributed in encrypted chunks across various nodes. These chunks are reconstituted when stored data is required by the owner.

As more and more Swarm nodes come online, the resilience and security of the decentralised network increases. At the time of writing this blog, over 4,500 nodes were online, distributed around the world. The Swarm network never goes down, is always online, and users always retain control of their data. This is the outstanding and unique power of decentralisation. With Swarm your data is secure, free from censorship and surveillance, owned and controlled by you alone.

Decentralised Data Economy: How Can You Join?

At MetaProvide, we build collaborative productivity platforms for organisations, businesses and consumer coordination platforms for small businesses. We provide everything you would expect from collaborative platforms, including: emails, calendars, documents, video calls and project management tools. Improving productivity and collaboration is a core benefit our platform, as well as data sovereignty. Therefore, these tools are all deeply integrated with supported self-hosting or decentralised data solutions.

Our customers are organisations and individuals who see the the need for critical business tools imbued with a safe and secure way to reclaim and maintain data sovereignty. They benefit from platforms built on the Nextcloud/Owncloud self-hosting infrastructure, which is used by over 600,000 servers around the world. Fusing with Swarm decentralised data integration, our platforms ensure data sovereignty. As a productive open source-contributor to the Nextcloud app-store, MetaProvide maintains apps with several thousands of collective downloads.

MetaProvide has also created tools that support the secure transition from the centralised data nexus to the Web3 decentralised data-economy. Our decentralised business-oriented platforms can help your organisation increase productivity, become Web3 future-proof and crucially, data sovereign. If you would like to learn more please get in touch. We would love to talk with you.