Now It’s Personal – Saving Your Identity From the Internet

The loss of identity in our digital age is neither a disorder nor a social phenomenon – it’s a real danger that stems from the pervasive availability of our personal data and the need to be an online shopper and a participant in the coming metaverse.

Choosing to Surrender

It’s that time of year again. Time for online shopping sprees, discounts, and one-click purchases. So, you brandish your credit or shopping card a bit more frequently than usual. Surrendering its number combination or entering your PayPal password never feels easy – we live in an age of rampant cybercrime, with an annual increase of 17% in the number of security breaches in the US alone. No, you do not want to end up among 280 million people affected by this trend.

Now, everything about you can be summarized by many personally identifiable information (“PII”), starting from something as basic as your photo on Facebook to more advanced stuff such as a physical address or a social security number.

This vital information is put behind increasingly fragile cages kept at databases engaged in the arms race with hackers. At the time of the pandemic, online shopping has skyrocketed. Going beyond e-shopping, think about the potential for the manipulation associated with surrendering your ID to a crypto exchange you recently registered with

Our personal information is more exposed simply on the account that we choose to use it more often. What about the future?

Metaverse Rising, Rising Fears

If you think that we are progressing towards the future where you’ll surrender your personal ID information less often, think twice. The metaverse is just behind the corner, and, as much as we know, your participation in it will require you to log in with your personal information. It is just to dip your toes into it, not to mention the in-universe transactions or gaming sessions.

So, how do we respond to the present and coming challenges? First, we diagnose the extent of the problem. A recent extensive survey by the PhotoChromic project has only confirmed that more than two decades after the mainstreaming of the internet, 89% of people are still concerned that their personal information may be hacked or compromised in the future. To add insult to injury, only 22% of respondents said that they knew how and where to seek help to minimize the effects of a personal data breach. So, people feel both afraid and helpless, and that’s a toxic cocktail.

These findings are of profound implication for the widest range of stakeholders since they demonstrate that, when it comes to personal data, people no longer see the internet as a brave new cyber world but rather as a digital wasteland populated by dystopian threat actors. How do we get out of this?

A Token of Affection

Now, the challenge with finding the solution to this level of public distrust in the ability of the modern-day internet to protect their personal data is only made worse by the lack of a unified approach to tackling it.

You can say that e-commerce platforms may try to fortify their identity protection measures based on these findings unless they want to lose clients. That’s OK, but will all of them approach this issue with the same level of dedication? Security managers and database operators can attempt to make their digital fences a bit taller, but how long will it be before the palisades are breached for the umpteenth time?

Instead, we need a change of paradigm paired with an adoption of a universally available technological solution. The answer may lie in the technology of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptographic assets that exist on the blockchain, each adorned with unique identification codes and metadata that set them apart from each other. A keyword to remember here is unique, just like your identity in real life and the encroaching metaverse.

Getting Your ID Back

How would this work? The principle is simple – you get to combine your sensitive, personally identifiable information, such as biometrical data, financial and medical information, or ID card number, into a single tamperproof NFT. These would be stored on the blockchain, the very platform that helps thousands of users interact with each other daily without having to surrender their data.

The NFTs are gaining traction among the artists and celebrities who do not want their identities or creations stolen or misrepresented. There is no reason why this approach should not be adopted by other people who want to keep full control over the way their identities are utilized and managed online.

PhotoChromic is a project launched in 2020 with the goal to bring this vision closer to fruition. The tokenization of one’s identity will attempt to alleviate the fears of one’s identity being stolen and the related private information being exposed with nefarious goals.

Thus packaged and secured, this ID token is fully controlled by a person whose identity it represents – and it will represent it competently, serving as a perfectly valid proof of one’s identity before the government, financial institutions, or on social media. Yes, this means No More Mr. Nice Guy for the corporations who got rich on selling personal data to other fat cats.

Conclusion

How will personal identity management work in a world ride by increased cybercrime fears and the emerging metaverse? Well, the jury is still out on that one, but, as shown by the survey presented above, any project that aims to tackle these issues will have to work on restoring the people’s trust in the technology of tomorrow. And prevent their identities from being exposed to the law of the jungle out there.

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