Thanks Facebook, Now We All know Why Privacy Is Important by@Mashinsky

Thanks Facebook, Now We All know Why Privacy Is Important

April 2nd 2018 2,739 reads
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Alex Mashinsky

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It’s an unfortunate truth that most people today still don’t understand the importance of privacy online. But thanks to Facebook, the world just got the harsh wake up call that it needed. Now that we’ve begun to move our money online in a very literal sense with cryptocurrencies, this lesson is more poignant than ever before.

The cryptocurrency world is all about decentralization. Decentralization makes things stronger because it reduces the amount of single points that can lead to failure. However, our current world comprises of massive centralized institutions that collect untold petabytes of personal data (with our permission via incomprehensible contracts signed with a click or a tap).

The degree by which data was harvested from Facebook by said institutions demonstrates the need for better security management and the need for decentralized security practices.

The Password Conundrum

It can be hard to visualize how much people don’t pause to consider their own privacy and security online. To start with an example, let’s talk about passwords. It’s a well-known fact that most people use weak passwords. It’s also common practice for people to use the same password on many websites. This makes sense. Passwords are difficult to create, and even more difficult to remember.

The problem with this type of personal security management is immediately evident, however. If a single website is compromised, then nefarious individuals could potentially gain access to almost all of your digital life. Even with access to a single email account could unlock your world to an attacker through password reset forms.

There’s an easy solution for this, however. Password managers can be used to create unique and complex passwords for each and every website that we use. They can keep password data encrypted and off-line, for those that are extremely security conscious.

So there’s a relatively easy solution for password management. And yet, most people still don’t take their privacy and security seriously.

So what about how we handle our personal information online? We put our trust in services like Facebook and Google. If they are compromised either through a hack or through gray area data mining, the effect is still the same. Our personal, sensitive data gets used in ways that we did not implicitly or explicitly approve of.

To make things worse, the amount of data that services like Facebook collect about us is truly alarming. This is doubly so if you use a Facebook app on a mobile device and allow that app to track your location via your GPS signal.

The Facebook Behemoth

Facebook knows almost everything about you. It knows your name, where you live, where you work, who your friends are, who your family members are, how old you are, what your interests are, where you went last night, your shopping habits, your level of income and so on. This data can then be cross-referenced billions of times with other data points in a huge mesh.

Facebook, or companies that get access to Facebook’s data via partnerships, can make startling conclusions about you without even needing to ask you personally. For instance, if you’re a 32-year-old single female with one older brother, Facebook might be able to determine that your favorite type of fruit preserves is strawberry and not raspberry, based only on comments made by thousands of other individuals with similar life circumstances.

This example may seem silly, but Facebook data has been used to determine far more personal secrets about people, and the results are always chilling to say the least.

Money Talks

It’s been said that money is a form of language. It communicates our wants, our goals, our efforts and our trustworthiness. But today, how many people really think about how their banks or financial networks monitor them? While the limelight has been placed on Facebook, the truth is that there are hundreds or more untold shadowy financial industries and companies that are watching your every move.

It all starts with your bank. Your bank knows how much money you have, how much money you owe to them, where your money comes from and where it goes every day. This information can be incredibly powerful.

Next, payment processors like Visa and PayPal similarly get full access to everything you do, and in some cases their knowledge could spread even wider than just your bank.

Third, are the credit reporting agencies that keep a permanent record of every credit card payment you made, every time you were late on your student loan repayment. Even if you are getting divorced, they will know it.

Can You Get out of the System?

While it’s easy to simply choose not to participate in Facebook, today it’s not possible to just opt out of the banking system, and the credit reporting system. These services have become requirements, much in the same way as a fast internet connection is required today in order to keep up with society. Even if you have never communicated with credit reporting agencies, they know about you, and they are following your every move.

Want to rent an apartment? Credit check required. Applying for a job? More often than not, credit check also required. Thinking about buying a house or a car? No doubt your credit will be checked, possibly even if you are paying in cash.

In 2009, an individual calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin, and the first technology that had the power to lead people away from banks, payment networks and credit scoring agencies was born.

Following this, many new cryptocurrencies came out, including privacy focused projects that aim to not only offer complete financial control of one’s own assets, but to be able to do so in absolute privacy.

Interest in these types of cryptocurrencies has grown rapidly. Privacy focused projects like PIVX, with its full compliance with the Zerocoin protocol, gives its users total anonymity when transacting. Other projects like Monero and Zcash use technologies like ring signatures and zk-SNARKs (a personal favorite of Edward Snowden) have also grown and helped shape the industry at large.

What these cryptocurrencies represent is a step towards the privacy, security, and decentralization that we all, quite frankly, deserve.

The Next Step Towards Financial Privacy

Now that we have cryptocurrencies that protect privacy, we need a way to connect those valuable digital assets with the old monetary system so that the eventual transition towards cryptocurrency dominance can continue. Real-life use cases are essential, and we believe we have a solution that can not only offer decentralization and privacy, but also offer something that is indeed able to attract the next 100 million users to the blockchain.

Celsius Network is launching later this year, and with it, it will bring the ability for those that hold or want to hold blockchain assets to to do so in a secure manner that also enables them to secure low interest cash loans.

Celsius does not operate in the realm of the traditional banking sector. As such, it does not rely on credit reporting agencies, and thus it increases one’s access to financial privacy and independence from the system.

Envisioning a High Privacy Loan

While it’s unfortunate that banks are still essential to many financial transactions, we believe that taking the steps we are taking at Celsius moves us closer to a post-banking world. Let’s imagine for a moment a circumstance where someone could get an extremely high privacy loan that does not touch credit reporting bureaus.

First, an individual can open an account at a small not-for-profit bank such as a credit union. These kinds of institutions will be highly unlikely to sell your private information since they are not guided by the profit motive.

Next, they can transfer their value (or even choose to get paid in some cases) in a private currency like PIVX. From there, they can anonymously convert their PIVX into bitcoin or Ethereum and deposit it into their Celsius wallet.

Now we can use Celsius Network to secure a cash loan that can be deposited at their credit union or bank. As an added bonus, since a loan does not count as “income,” it does not need to be reported to tax authorities because there are no capital gains that need to be paid.

Always Moving Forward

Is this solution perfect? It isn’t yet, but we feel that by combining the power of privacy-centric blockchain assets and the Ethereum network to create a decentralized approach is one way that anyone seeking privacy can find it with little difficulty.

At launch, Celsius plans to support Bitcoin and Ethereum, but we intend to extend support to more and more of the top digital coins, including those that are strong on privacy features.

Let’s hope that the travesty that occurred with the Facebook data mining incident can serve as a catalyst and not simply a warning. Privacy is an inalienable human right. But it’s something that needs to be taken (with permission), and not something that is just given out freely. Especially not by those who stand to gain from manipulating and selling your data.

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