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The Congressional Facebook Testimony Is a Lesson in Agency, Responsibility, and Education

The recent Facebook congressional hearings on the (mis)handling of customer data has impassioned many of its users. The hearings themselves made a few things clear, and the public response shined light on a growing trend in a blockchain world: people want greater control over their data.

Congressional Facebook Testimony Underscores Need for Blockchain Technology

The facts are these: Facebook makes its money through ads, and those ads are worth more money if Facebook can provide information (freely offered by its users through a Terms of Service that they didn’t read) to tailor those ads. I can’t blame Facebook for wanting to make money; that’s just business. However, it should be no surprise that upon realizing just how much of their data was sold and to whom, users would want to change the relationship.

Obviously one way is to stop using Facebook, but that’s hard to do. There are many distant friends and family on there, and some users rely on Facebook for communication.

Blockchain technology is uniquely positioned to help all users take more control over their own identities, sharing only the data they want, or the data necessary to identify them for a given situation, without over-credentialing themselves.

There is a serious need to educate lawmakers on privacy issues, the internet, and the intersection of these two worlds

One of the most encouraging things about the hearing, for me, was that it happened at all. While it was frustrating to hear the senators and congresspeople flounder their ways through this new world, I was happy to see effort being put in to try to better understand it, even if their approach was slightly accusatory.

These hearings need to happen more often, on more topics, and at greater length and depth – particularly when it comes to privacy and (in my opinion) blockchain technology. Privacy is considered a basic human right, and you should be able to control your information.

A Return to Responsibility: Enter the Blockchain

Blockchain technology offers the opportunity to protect your identity and self-agency in two significant ways: 1) as I’ve described above, information is not only hashed, but also modular, with the ability to only share relevant information, and 2) in learning about blockchains and cryptocurrency, people generally are willing to accept the onus of their own responsibility (after they get over that mental shock).

As an anecdotal piece of evidence, prior to really starting to learn about blockchain technology years ago, I was less concerned with how my data was collected, stored, and sold. Whether it was from ignorance or just being a dumb teenager/young adult, it just didn’t matter as much to me. Learning about blockchain technology, I think, was really what made me realize just how important it was to control my data – since it meant control of myself.

Social media isn’t evil, companies need to make money, and you need to be responsible for yourself

While it’s hard to have sympathy for Facebook in this situation, I do feel a lot of hurt feelings and harsh realizations could have been avoided through a more serious consideration of one’s responsibility to protect one’s identity and data. This was as much on the users as it was on Facebook, maybe even more so. As with all things in life, do your own research, understand who you’re giving access to your information, and demand better.

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Amazon Reveals Blockchain Templates for Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric

At the end of last week Amazon revealed its blockchain templates, which the company claims will make it easier for developers to create blockchain-based projects. Amazon Web Services (AWS) “blockchain-as-a-service” platform is set to compete with similar projects from Oracle, and IBM. Amazon Web Services AWS blockchain templates give AWS users working on blockchain projects a faster way to set up two versions of the technology, on the Ethereum blockchain or the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. The launch comes six months after Oracle unveiled its cloud service built on the Hyperledger Fabric and about a year after IBM announced its own Hyperledger-based blockchain platform. Both Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric are popular among developers — the former is used by hundreds, if not thousands, of blockchain-based services. This move further into the world of blockchain, Amazon hopes, will help the company complete with its competitors: IBM, which is one of the leaders in blockchain development, reported $5.5 billion in revenue from its cloud platform in the fourth quarter of last year. For the blockchain industry, having the support of Amazon — one of the largest and farthest reaching companies in the world — could be considered to be a huge vote of confidence for the technology. “AWS Blockchain Templates provide a fast and easy way to create and deploy secure blockchain networks using open source frameworks,” Amazon said. “Blockchain is a technology that makes it possible to build applications where multiple parties can record transactions without the need for a trusted, central authority to ensure that transactions are verified and secure.” AWS’s Jeff Barr In a blog post about how to use its blockchain templates, AWS vice president Jeff Barr acknowledged blockchains general lack of clarity by referencing a 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch about Shimmer Floor Wax, a floor polish that is also a dessert topping. In the skit, a couple is fighting over whether a product is a cleaning product or dessert, and although it might not be obvious, it’s actually both things at once. “Some of the people that I talk to see blockchains as the foundation of a new monetary system and a way to facilitate international payments. Others see blockchains as a distributed ledger and immutable data source that can be applied to logistics, supply chain, land registration, crowdfunding and other use cases,” Barr wrote. “Either way, it’s clear that there are a lot of intriguing possibilities and we are working to help our customers use this technology more effectively.” This is Amazon’s latest move into blockchain, but the company has been interested in the emerging technology for some time. Last month, the company announced a new partnership with Luxoft Holding. Luxoft and five other consulting firms are working together to roll out blockchain solutions that can operate on AWS. “Blockchain is about removing data silos, improving trust and operational efficiencies,” said Luxoft’s vice president of technology strategy Vasiliy Suvorov. “By using AWS to deploy and integrate DLTs into day-to-day processes, businesses can revolutionize how they operate.” In related news, a survey completed by LendEDU last month found that more than half of Amazon users said they would consider using an Amazon-built cryptocurrency on the site. Amazon Prime members were even more eager, with 58.3% in favor and only 21.9% opposed. Image from Shutterstock The post Amazon Reveals Blockchain Templates for Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric appeared first on NewsBTC.

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