Ari Paul, Greg Osuri, and Christopher Jeffrey on Internet Privacy and DecentralizationFeb 28, 2022
"Twenty or thirty years ago, the Internet was more decentralized than it is today," said Christopher Jeffrey, founder of Handshake Protocol. "In fact, they were more private, too."
He was speaking to technology journalist Benjamin Powers on this week's episode of the Priv8 Podcast, which features an exclusive panel discussion on Web3, data sovereignty, and the decentralized future from last November's Priv8 Virtual Privacy Summit. Greg Osuri, the CEO of Akash Network, and Tor Bair, Founder of the Secret Foundation, also participated.
Christopher offered an explanation of why the Internet has become more centralized over time.
"We have a cultural battle that has been happening online, particularly within the crypto space," he said. "There are a whole lot of people who are involved in crypto for the wrong reasons. It's not like they're bad people or anything -- they're just not as sensitive as others about privacy, or decentralization, or anti-censorship movements. And it's not obvious how to get them to care."
Greg said the trend toward Internet centralization has led to the proliferation of surveillance capitalism.
"It's a modern day business model where everything we do is tracked, analyzed, and monetized," he said. "The result is Google really knows more than you know about yourself. Google may know you're pregnant before you do; Facebook can tell when you're on your period -- that's the kind of world we live in.
"And how did we end up here? I think that without knowing what we were giving up, we traded privacy for convenience."
Ari said, "Most of the biggest companies in the world make their money from advertising, which is to say, they really make their money from collecting personal data and then using it for targeted advertising.
"In this paradigm, those big players lose badly when privacy wins. In that way, regulation is king of a 'friend' of the online privacy movement to some degree. For instance, European privacy laws like the GDPR are forcing social media giants to treat their data very differently.
"As a result, this data-driven monetization is not going to be quite what it used to be. And I think that soon enough, regulators are going to force companies to build tools for disclosure of data collection into their systems."