Privacy Blog

“By continuing the process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes, writing about the effects of a seemingly small amount of inflation every year.

Keep an Eye on BlockStack, It May be Revolutionary

I don’t get terribly excited about new companies appearing suddenly with claims of their new product(s) that will revolutionize the world. I’ve heard far too many such claims over the years. A few such predictions turned out to be accurate (Google, Apple, Uber, Netflix, and more). However, the majority of them simply faded away over time.

One announcement I read recently looks very appealing to me: BlockStack. I really believe that the company could change the world. Please note that I am not predicting that it WILL change the world, only that it COULD.

So what does Blockstack do? Well, it’s complicated. Then again, in some ways it is very simple.

According to https://blockstack.org/about:

“Blockstack is a full-stack decentralized computing network that enables a new generation of applications where developers and users can interact fairly and securely.

Mission – Blockstack’s mission is to foster an open and decentralized Internet that establishes and protects privacy, security and freedom for all internet users.

What is Blockstack – Blockstack is a full-stack decentralized computing network that enables a new generation of applications where developers and users can interact fairly and securely. Blockstack’s core protocols and developer tools enable a fair and open Internet that returns digital rights to developers and consumers. Led by some of the world’s foremost experts on distributed systems, Blockstack allows users to own their own data that they can take with them from app to app in the ecosystem, along with their Blockstack ID that eliminates the need for password-based logins. The end result is privacy, security, and freedom.

Thats right: BlockStack is creating software that guarantees privacy, identity, security, and (even perhaps better) proves who owns which pieces of data that is published online with BlockStack. This could be dynamite for many situations:

A blogger could write online articles and charge readers to read the articles without worrying about being “ripped off” by an unknown hacker. (That has happened to me several times.)

A cab driver could find riders without any need for a taxi company or for Uber or Lyft or any other company that takes a percentage of the fares. Even better, the customer could pay for the fare with his or her smartphone without ever touching cash or a credit card.

Internet users could safely auction off almost any item, new or used, without a need for eBay, Etsy, PayPal, or any other centralized “auction house” or payment provider.

Even better, each user should own and control his or her online identity. That identity should work with all apps, all the application data should be encrypted. Only the author will have the decryption-key to share that data.

BlockStack is a decentralized computing provider. So, what is decentralized computing?

According to the BlockStack web site at: https://blockstack.org/faq/#what-is-blockstack:

Decentralized computing has these attributes:

Personal keys for a digital life. Users will have keys that unlock all their software interactions, email, subscriptions, and social. These keys are in users’ hands and under their control similar to physical keys (in some cases they are physical). Corporations no longer create or manage these keys.

[Comment: Allowing users to create and manage their own keys also reduces or perhaps eliminates the ability for hackers to create bogus keys or to steal keys from legitimate users. Every user would be the person he or she claims to be. This alone will greatly reduce the amount of fraud and spam mail that presently floods the Internet and email in-boxes.]

Security is a first-class concern. Users want systems that protect both their identity and the data associated with that identity — health, application, and relationships.

Convenient and auditable. Applications will be readily available as cloud applications are today but will be written with open protocols and code that allow them to be audited.

Innovation focused. The code and data in a decentralized computing lacks corporate and other boundaries, as a result, a global workforce can easily contribute and benefit from them.

Blockstack technology is a shift in how people use software, create it, and benefit from the internet. It puts people back in control of the computing systems that manage today’s world.

There’s more. You can get started by reading the BlockStack web site at https://blockstack.org and especially at https://blockstack.org/about.

Then check out one of the first apps available from BlockStack: a secure, free, end-to-end encrypted and open-source alternative to Google Photos. It can become your new personal photo vault. You also can control who can view each photo.

The new photo storage app is named Recall and is advertised to provide the following:

No one but you has access to your photos. Choose where to store your photos or use the free space Blockstack provides.

Simple to use
It’s extremely simple to use our apps, both on desktop and mobile. Login via Blockstack auth and start uploading your photos.

Open source
All our code is open sourced on Github. You can review how we treat your photos and contribute to future features.

No storage lock-in
Change your storage provider at any time. You will never lose your photos even if Recall stops working tomorrow.

Search your photos
You will be able to search your photos by location, time and other data. Wherever you are, Recall is available.

Share with friends
Soon you will be able to share your photos with others, without losing any of the privacy benefits offered by Recall.

Recall is available free of charge now. Check it out at: https://app.recall.photos.

Again, this is but one example of the capabilities of BlockStack. The company promises to create a lot more software and that all of it will be open source so that you or any programmer can explore the source code to make sure that everything is works as advertised. Complete privacy, simple to use, and the ability to store photos or whatever information you create anyplace online that you wish.

I like BlockStack because of all the built-in privacy. However, there’s a lot more to the service than privacy alone.

Keep an eye on BlockStack. I suspect it will be interesting to see if this company survives and really does become revolutionary. If I were a senior executive at Facebook or Google or Uber or Lyft or Netflix or eBay, I’d be watching BlockStack very closely!

Categories: Business News, Online Privacy & Security

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