SINGAPORE – Ever wondered what happens to the data generated about you from your online activities?
The answer can be found in a revelation from the documentary The Social Dilemma: “If you are not pay for the product, then you are the product”. But a new version of the Internet, called Web 3, promises change, and perhaps for the better.
The web we know today has come a long way. In the 1990s, the web was mostly made up of content-delivering organizations, with limited interactivity.
Web 2.0 was conceived in 1999 to describe the emergence of websites and applications characterized by user-generated content. User-generated content includes social bookmarks, web service del.icio.us, online encyclopedia Wikipedia, video streaming site YouTube, and social networks such as Facebook and Instagram.
The escalating amount of internet user data being generated online has led to increasing privacy concerns. Governments and lawmakers around the world have responded to such concerns in recent years.
In January 2020, the Norwegian Consumer Council published findings on how various apps collected, used and shared sensitive information about their users, such as locations, dating choices, sexual orientation, ethnicity and political beliefs.
More recently, in January of this year, multiple states in the United States filed lawsuits against Google for alleged involvement in deceptive location data collection practices. The lawsuit is still pending, but the company has responded that the allegations were based on outdated knowledge of their functions.
The principles governing the next version of the Internet, known as Web 3, could be a way to address some of the issues that users face today.
Web 3 includes applications based on a new model of data ownership and control by users. It is built on blockchain, a transparent ledger on a distributed network where users have more control over how their data is collected and monetized.
Web 3 makes it possible for individuals to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to sell their artworks on online markets such as OpenSea, or to trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin using smart contracts that are self-executing computer programs.
Bitcoin trading is considered an early form of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), a community owned by members without centralized leadership.
The emergence of DAOs is important because it opens up the opportunity to benefit directly from the community through transparency and the decentralized collaboration of all its members.
There are many types of DAOs, reflecting the diverse interests of different groups. You may have heard of Pleasr, a DAO on Twitter that focuses on buying NFTs that are “culturally important” and support charitable causes. Other DAOs focus on social networks, such as Friends with Benefits.
There are some drawbacks.