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Blockchain in Enhancing Data Privacy and Ownership

The Role of Blockchain in Enhancing Data Privacy and Ownership

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Merely spending time on the internet creates data on us, let alone using it to purchase something or express an opinion. Data is now a tradable commodity generated mostly without people’s knowledge or consent. Is it possible to even have a say and take a stand?

The answer may lie in blockchain technology. Its potential reaches far beyond cryptocurrencies and dubiously valuable NFTs. If anything, it has a pivotal role in approaching data privacy and reestablishing its ownership today and in the future. This article briefly introduces blockchain technology and further explores its transformative impacts on data.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a data storage and verification technology based on the concept of a decentralized, unalterable digital ledger. As the name implies, its basis is a chain of blocks, each containing data like financial transactions, personal messages, medical logs, etc.

All blocks get a unique hash, a string of characters that represents the current state of their contents. If this changes, so does the hash. Each block also stores the previous block’s hash. That makes tampering with the information inside an existing block much harder since it requires alterations to all the hashes that follow that particular block.

Moreover, the blockchain depends on a peer-to-peer network rather than a centralized information storage authority. Each participant in the network has an up-to-date copy of the blockchain’s current status. New additions need validation by solving complex calculations called “Proof of Work.” Additions can only go through if there’s a consensus on the chain’s status between most record holders, further improving a blockchain’s tamper resilience.

Reestablishing Data Ownership

Widespread internet adoption and the rapid rise of social media have nurtured a climate in which data ownership has become questionable. People give out much of their data willingly and without a second thought by interacting with others, signing up for services, etc. There’s also the data third parties gain by tracking one’s online movement or infer based on interests and choices.

An entire industry of data brokers leverages abundant free-flowing information for financial gain. Unrestricted access to public sources lets data brokers construct user profiles, bundle them with similar ones, and sell them to the highest bidder.

At best, affected individuals start receiving supposedly personalized ads. However, the information data brokers sell can lead to racial profiling, loan denial, and other life-altering situations.

As netizens are more aware of these shady practices, controlling data ownership and managing their digital footprint is becoming a priority. Blockchain technology can help by denying data brokers access to personal information on one hand while empowering individuals to take charge of and benefit from their data on the other.

Thwarting data brokers

Blockchains reside on P2P networks, meaning there’s no centralized information repository for data brokers to access. There’s also no single point of failure. Threats like ransomware or DDoS attacks aren’t effective at compromising or exposing data.

A blockchain may be public or private. The latter restricts access to participants who meet stringent conditions, like members or trustworthy third parties. Even if someone’s information is part of a public blockchain, encryption ensures it remains inaccessible.

Empowering individuals

Storing data using blockchain presents individuals with unique opportunities. Anything the ledger records stays immutable and traceable, so no one other than the person who uploaded such data can alter or tamper with it.

Blockchain also enables data ownership that allows users to benefit from their information if that’s their wish. They can make data on themselves available to interested parties directly and cut out the middleman, for example. Closely monitoring one’s data stored on the blockchain lets you see who tried to access it and either allow the request or take other actions.

Blockchain & Data Privacy

Advancements like blockchain technology help participants exercise their data ownership rights. However, things aren’t as clear-cut when it comes to data privacy. Blockchain’s very nature makes it hard to alter or erase data, which the GDPR and an increasing number of similar regulations enforce as core rights for citizens worldwide.

That doesn’t mean data privacy regulations and blockchain are necessarily at odds. Instead, it’s a challenge that prompts the technology’s architects and users alike to develop solutions that will strengthen privacy and make blockchain compliant without invalidating its core concepts.

Shoring up data privacy safeguards

Pseudonymity is already a contributing factor. While pseudonyms don’t guarantee anonymity, they allow users to separate their identity from their blockchain activity and make profiling harder. More advanced techniques like zero-knowledge proofs and ring signatures aid in preserving transaction privacy as well.

Of course, any efforts by blockchain creators are irrelevant if users don’t take cybersecurity seriously. Blockchain uses public and private cryptographic keys to validate interactions, and it’s the user’s responsibility to keep their key safe.

They can do so using the encrypted vaults provided by password managers, coupled with two-factor or biometric authentication the best managers also offer.

Even if one stores their key in a wallet for cryptocurrency transactions, accessing the wallet may still require a username and password, which should always be complex and unique. Creating, safeguarding, and auto-filling such credentials makes password managers indispensable for blockchain participation.


We’ve already witnessed the tectonic shifts blockchain adoption has had for the world of finance, yet that’s just one specific use. Going forward, blockchain and its interplay with artificial intelligence will transform the digital landscape as a whole. Pushing the technology further while maintaining data privacy & improving ownership will become a net positive for everyone involved.


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Wanna become a data scientist within 3 months, and get a job? Then you need to check this out !