For the big internet platforms, users’ personal data, including age, tastes, and search histories are valuable and highly-prized commodities.
For Facebook and Google, users’ personal profiles can be packaged and sold to research and advertising companies: a veritable gravy-train considering that most of this data is handed over free of charge in the first place.
However, for companies operating in the European Union, this is all about to change.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which goes into force on Friday – stipulates that users not only have ownership over their data, they also have the right to know how their data is being used and can request information be deleted from company databases.
“For the Googles of the world, our data means everything, but for us, the users, we are not part of this game”, says Koby Ram, the CEO of the Liberdy Foundation. “What the Liberdy Foundation enables users to do is utilize the value of their own data.”
A data liquidity platform, the idea behind the Liberdy Foundation is simple: it will help users to sell internet data back to the companies who want to use it.
To do this, the Liberdy team, who have a background in digital advertising and app development, are creating a database where profile information can be stored as well as a Data Management Platform (DMP), where companies can buy relevant data.
“We plan to categorize the bulk of our data into segments so that we can optimize the type of data that can be sold to clients”, says Ram. “If an advertising company approaches us and requests information relating to women in their mid-20s who live just outside London and have a passion for sports cars, we want to be able to identify and sell that data to them.”
So what’s in it for the users? For Ram, Liberdy will be an intermediary to assist users in finding buyers for their data.
“Every time a user’s data is used, they are rewarded”, says Ram. “For Liberdy’s DMP, we will offer users 85% of all the revenue generated from the sale of their data. It is also anonymized, meaning that personal information such as names or contact details aren’t uploaded to the Liberdy database”.
The Foundation will release its own Liberdy (LIB) tokens which will be used by companies to purchase data and will also be the reward for users. Each LIB, which according to their website is worth $0.10, will represent a certain amount of data.
Although the Foundation is developing its own data marketplace, Liberdy wants to encourage other for-profit companies to use their platform and database.
“We understand that some company may come along with a much better way of marketing our users’ data”, says Ram. “And that’s why we would like them to join our collaborative ecosystem”.
Although Ram doesn’t expect that all to be able to give 85% of their revenue to the users, Liberdy will only grant companies access if they agree to its governance system and offer a minimum of 50% of their revenue back to the clients.
Having only been established this February, Liberdy still has a long way to go. Although a pre-ICO is planned for this quarter, the Foundation’s whitepaper suggests that the first phase of beta isn’t expected until the end of 2019 and a full release won’t be taking place until Q2 of 2021.
From talking to Ram, the impression received was that Liberdy was very much occupied with the here and now. Although based in Israel, GDPR is the golden opportunity for the Liberdy Foundation to market itself across the whole of Europe.
“GDPR is where we start”, says Ram. “It is the vehicle that will allow the Liberdy Foundation to drive its concept, product, and services to users and the market”.
Normally it’s the blockchain companies facing regulatory scrutiny, but according to Ram, the way in which the Liberdy Foundation works will actually help companies to become GDPR compliant:
“As part of the new regulation, companies have to respect users’ privacy and them being the rightful owner of their data”, says Ram.
“Through the process of signing up for our services, the Liberdy Foundation will already have consent to use the data and because we anonymize it, we also respect our users’ privacy. This will go some way for companies to ensure they are on the right side of the new regulation.”
Although GDPR was passed by the EU Parliament way back in 2016, it is only now that the public is becoming aware of the real value of their data.
Not only did the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal unveil the true scale of the ‘data economy’ it also highlighted major defects that can potentially play a part in subverting liberal democracies.
With this in mind, the idea behind the Liberdy Foundation is a solid and timely one: harnass the power of blockchain and help redress the balance.
But three years is a long time to wait and as the idea is a good one, Liberdy runs the risk of being copied and beaten to development by larger companies who have the resources to get a product to market much sooner.
Rome wasn’t built in a day: but stepping up construction may be crucial if Liberdy wants to see off potential rivals.