Fixing the Internet is possible, if we just leave data sharing behind.

Fully homomorphic encryption isn’t here yet, but there’s a lot we can do immediately to restore trust in the digital economy. OPAL, Enigma, The Secret Network… these are just some of the solutions we can adopt or get inspired by. But above all we need to turn off data sharing and set new rules to combine our data with algorithms. And this is definitely possible, if we just want it to be.

Riccardo Zanardelli

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“Records of Everything, N. 2” — A remix of Wikipedia’s definition of privacy.

The Italian version of this piece has been originally published on October 7th, 2020, by Il Sole 24 Ore.

We live in the age of «elabo-relations». Immuni, for example, creating an abstract and privacy-oriented representation of our contacts to notify us of a potential Coronavirus infection. Or BitCoin, the currency that shifts trust from the bank to the decentralized ledger. And then our social networks, our streaming habits and the whole sharing economy we are plugged in… our digital self interacts with algorithms through data at high intensity and frequency, determining the map of our relationships through processing.

But are these relationships really «ours»? It depends on how data and algorithms are brought together, because this defines our ability to control both. Would we accept to keep our home’s door open just because there’s a law stating «forbidden to enter someone else’s house»? Maybe not.

Perhaps, despite the excellent GDPR and CCPA, today we would need a protocol of rules combining protection and “pro-action” of data at the speed of bits (not paper). The policy is a weak force, even just for a late defense… we need a strong force encoded in machines’ langauge.

The cause of the problem we’re stuck in has a name: data sharing. Transferring our data to someone else’s black box to get convenient and ubiquitous services has been our ancestral sin. Like modern Adam and Eve, we…

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Riccardo Zanardelli

Digital Platforms @ Beretta | PhD student in Statistics & Data Science @ AEM, UNIBS | Engineer | Only personal opinions here | Code is Law (cit.)