Privacy coins are all the rage today and it’s suggested that they’ll be the biggest gainers of 2018. Why so much focus on privacy? Surely if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about? It’s good for us to go back to basics to understand the importance of privacy and how it affects our day-to-day lives.

The world in which we live today lacks the privacy we were raised to believe was ours without question.

Private lives, as our grandparents would have recognised them, have been winnowed away to mere shells of what they once were. We have been conditioned to think that the need or desire for privacy is reserved for petty criminals or thieves. Which I believe is utterly False. Insidiously, through small concessions built up over the years, we’ve signed away our rights and privileges in such small increments that the general populace have given up the building blocks that past generations constructed our society upon, undermining the very cornerstones of our personalities in the process.

We collectively have come to accept the internet as the platform from which the majority of our social and financial interactions take place. In doing so however we have doomed ourselves to the reality that someone, whether state, press or corporation will always be watching or recording our every move.

Over the past few years I’m sure you have seen the headlines screaming about the abundance of “privacy breach” related news. The vast majority of such Is based around communications (e.g., WikiLeaks, The Leveson Inquiry, or Snowden Files) and main stream media (which doesn’t really effect you, Right?). Once you take into account that that is only half of the clear violation into our right to privacy the effects start to hit closer to home. Once upon a time with banking and financing industries we were guaranteed PRIVACY, these days however it is in short supply. Now I’m sure you’re beginning to see the issue that privacy coins looks to solve.

These days everything done by us on the internet, from our social media interactions to shopping on Amazon or Ebay, is tracked by complex mathematical formula that is all knowing and inescapable. Our actions and behaviours stored, analysed, and processed to understand how we think and act when forced to take place in a situation thrust upon us without our choosing. The information gathered is sold to the highest bidder (usually a large corporation) to be used how they please.

Unfortunately we are not completely innocent in this matter as most of us willingly divulge details of our private lives to databases across the world. Whether it be Facebook for a quick status update or Instagram to share moments forever with the world, we are as at fault as any other entity.

Does privacy have a biological basis that serves to either protect or edify us? Keep in mind that we’re just one of many animals that constantly pursue privacy. For example, Birds, their song albeit soothing and beautiful to us or a mate can be an aggressive show of dominance over a territory to an offender of the same sex. When did we lose the ability to make our song heard not with common noise that gets lost in the babble, but with confidence and strength that affirms our power and knowledge of the rights we were promised when brought into this world.

But enough of the tinfoil hat and animal theory.

The need for privacy, especially online, is stronger than ever before. Nobody likes being spied on. If you’re just innocently browsing the web, it’s deeply unpleasant to know that a faceless technology of a corporation are recording your every move.

The information they collect is far beyond what is actually needed to construct a basic profile on you or your shopping habits. Yet such data collection is legal, even though I’m sure there are plenty of things you might prefer to keep to yourself such as income, your passions, or your membership to the My Little Pony club. These are the concerns that are building the new generation, our generation’s privacy.

And while we might console ourselves with the knowledge that all of this information is mostly used for targeting ads (which is not always the case). Internet giants, such as Amazon and Ebay are building up even more detailed user profiles, finding new ways to exploit that information. It is in fact known that such analytical information techniques were used in the recent EU referendum, and US elections, to target and craft messages to groups of persuadable voters based on psychological insight gleaned from online data. Not to mention the big data that is now being used to profile people as possible criminals and terrorists, getting them placed on government watchlists.

Even if you’re relaxed about these companies gaming our emotions for political gain, think of the effect it will have on your wallet and furthermore your children’s wallets. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have already found evidence that some online retailers use profiling to discriminate against certain customers. If you’re identified as a high-value shopper, you’re likely to be steered towards higher value items or even charged more for the same thing!

2017 was a huge year for data breaches, hacks, and information leaks.

Last year eBay confirmed personal details of buyers and sellers was exposed due to a bug in their data feed system. The leak exposed the person’s FULL NAME publicly rather than their chosen username.

Previous to that, in 2014, Ebay announced that up to 145 million user accounts were compromised. Password, email address, physical address, telephone number and date of birth were amongst some of the most basic details stolen!

In 2013, Target was the target (excuse the pun) of a sophisticated data breach which compromised the financial information of up to 70 million customers, putting them at huge risk to identity theft.

When will we learn as a whole that the problem lies in centralisation. Every time we interact with these centralised brands, our data is left behind for them to do with what they please. As if that wasn’t enough they then place all of our sensitive information into a centralised database which will in most cases be poorly maintained or secured. Obviously this makes them much more vulnerable to hacking or manipulation. INSANITY is defined as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Its time to collectively wake up and grasp the opportunity we have been given. Many people are doing so, and now that you have the information its up to you. Which would you trust to keep your identity and that of your loved ones secure?

Part two of this series will be posted next week. It discuss HOW we can regain our privacy and where Safex fits within the worldwide push to regain control of our privacy.