General manager of the US division of Ontology: “In the future everyone can monetize their data”3 min read
Erick Pinos, 26, has served as general manager of the US division of Ontology. Blockchain was created in 2017 by on-chain invented, the company behind NEO, the “Chinese ETH”. Since 2018, Ontology has been independent and a returning guest in the top 50 most valuable blockchains. Their focus is on speed and privacy. Today it has many well-known partners, e.g Google Clouds.
Ontology is headquartered in Singapore, but the team works around the world. Erick Pinos lives in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. At Ontology, he takes care of solutions for digital, sovereign identities in Web 3.0. With them, people should become masters of their data themselves.
Erick Pinos spoke about alternatives to big tech surveillance capitalism and privacy in the Metaverse.
Many speak in terms of supremacy Meta, Google and Co. from the age of surveillance capitalism. What does that mean for you and where do you see the greatest dangers for our future?
Eric Pinos: In our world, many digital services are offered free of charge. But they are not free. You yourself become the product – in the form of your data. These companies collect information about you and your family and sell it to data brokers who sell it on for the purpose of targeted advertising. It’s no longer just the big tech companies that do that. It’s a gigantic business model, even for many start-ups.
How do you imagine an ethical handling of data?
Here’s how it currently works: I agree to the Meta Terms of Service and lose the rights to my data – forever. Users should be able to decide for themselves which data they want to share and which not in each individual case. A personality test? OK. My family’s address? no And they should share in the profits made from selling the data.
Why do I need a blockchain for this?
It serves as the foundation for the management and transfer of data. When you register somewhere, you are often asked for all sorts of information to verify your identity. The bank may want to verify this against your social security number, a payment service provider with the address. Your information is scattered everywhere in databases that can be hooked.
With the blockchain we have a way to store all this information in the form of verifiable credentials. That means your data is on a blockchain. You have them verified once. From then on, the hash of your checked blockchain is sufficient for verification. This is one of several applications we are working on at Ontology.
You describe the idea of a sovereign digital identity. It’s a few years old now. Many blockchain start-ups have presented solutions for this. Why isn’t it used everywhere yet? What’s holding you back?
The technology works. It will be like with NFTs. It’s been around since 2017 and everyone thought it was a cool idea. The hype only started when people understood: they can make real money with it.
At some point we will read the first media reports about people making money with their data. A whole industry will emerge: with influencers, consultants, conferences. Until then, we still have time to make the technology really bombproof. When you’re handling people’s data, there can’t be any vulnerabilities.
All corporations in the world are currently dreaming of the Metaverse, the 3D Internet of the future. Hardly anyone talks about data security. What should we pay attention to now?
With the Metaverse, it will become even more intimate and sensitive in terms of privacy. The data is no longer just about your interests or search queries, but about your behavior in a virtual space: where are you going, how are you moving, where are you looking, what are you doing on the controller?
We must not repeat the mistakes we made with social media, but must develop ethical guidelines before the technology is ready for the market. This data can be very valuable and good things can come of it. But people need to be aware that they could be monitored in this way and they should decide whether they want that on a case-by-case basis – or not.
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