Voice of the Industry

Solving the privacy paradox with blockchain tech

Friday 1 May 2020 08:33 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Voice of the industry

Erik Rind, CEO of ImagineBC, has revealed for The Paypers’ reader how blockchain tech can enable internet users gain control over their data … and favourite music

Over half of Americans are refusing to use some products or services due to personal privacy concerns, according to survey results published on April 14, 2020 by Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington.

In light of this research you would think that we would see Facebook and Google reporting large losses in their subscriber base, but we don’t. Why? It's commonly referred to as the ‘privacy paradox’, as John Naughton wrote in The Guardian, ‘a dark shadow looms over our networked world. It’s called the privacy paradox’. The main commercial engine of this world involves erosion of, and intrusions upon, our privacy. Whenever researchers, opinion pollsters and other busybodies ask people if they value their privacy, they invariably respond with a resounding ‘yes’. ‘The paradox arises from the fact that they nevertheless continue to use the services that undermine their beloved privacy.’

I like to think of the ‘privacy paradox’ in more simplistic terms. In the iconic movie The Matrix, the main character Neo (Keanu Reeves) is offered a choice by the rebel leader Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Morpheus makes Neo choose between the ‘red pill’ which represents an uncertain future but would free him from the enslaving control of the machines or to take the ‘blue pill’, which will return him to his previous state of blissful ignorance.

ImagineBC is a startup technology company that represents the ‘red pill’. ImagineBC was started because its founders were unified in their vision that people needed to be offered an alternative to the ‘blue pill’ being offered by the tech giants. The ecosystem that ImagineBC has created, which we call the Community, offers its users, who we call Members, the ability to take back control of their personal information and more importantly turn that control into monetisation of their personal information, intellectual property, and time.

Started in 2018, ImagineBC began as a mere prototype of a self-service module for a human capital management system (HCMS). The idea was to allow the individual user of the HCMS to have sole control of their key personal information (SSN, name, email, mobile number, banking information, etc.) through use of a distributed blockchain network. Six months into this exercise, we realised that if we wanted to get people to understand that they need to take back control of their personal identity, we were going to need something sexier that an HCMS solution. Thus, the creation of ImagineBC and the idea that it is We the People, who should receive fair compensation for the use of our personal information and intellectual property.

The name ImagineBC comes from the immortal song, Imagine by the late John Lennon. If you are unfamiliar with this hit or can’t quite remember the lyrics, pull it up on your mobile and have a listen. ‘Imagine a world with no governments…’. Lennon understood the world changing possibilities of blockchain technology 40 years before it came into existence. A properly designed ecosystem using blockchain creates a system of trust between peers, thereby eliminating the need for traditional third-party intermediaries in commercial transactions. And so, the name was clear, Imagine + BC = ImagineBC.

ImagineBC’s role in the community it created is to act as a mediator of individual data. What this means is that we have harnessed the power of blockchain technology and AI/ML technology into a mobile application, where 90% of all the revenue generated within the community is distributed back to the Members of the community. To put this in its proper perspective, Facebook to match our design would need to distribute 90% of the gross income it earns back its users. I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future, do you? This is where people start to say, ‘yeah but what keeps you from becoming the next Facebook’. The answer is blockchain and smart contracts. ImagineBC has actually programmed against natural desire by putting the revenue distribution into a ‘smart’ contract where the terms can only be modified by a vote of 51% of the Members.

The easiest way to explain how the community works is through an example. Say we have a comedian who is tired of giving her intellectual property away for nothing on YouTube, so instead, they create a channel on the ImagineBC platform and decide to charge USD 2.00 for a monthly subscription to their exclusive content on this channel.  This is where almost everyone says, ‘Whoa, why should I start having to pay for what I have been getting for free!’. The answer is that within the ImagineBC community our Members have the ability to earn what we call ‘free’ and ‘new’ money, which we hope they will spend some of on content they are interested in consuming.

‘New’ money comes from the monetisation of a Members personal data. Pepsi wants to advertise to you, well inside ImagineBC they will compensate you for the use of your data to find you and for you time to watch the ad. Verizon wants you to complete a survey, same thing, you get compensated. In this scenario Pepsi and Verizon are winners because they still get to target their advertising, but the consumer will have a more positive response to the add because of the increased intrinsic nature of the transaction. The Member wins because they have received fair compensation for the use of their personal information and time. And finally, our comedian wins because they are now being fairly compensated for their creativity. Oh, and of course ImagineBC wins because it made its fixed 10% fee on the transaction.

Of course, there is no such thing as a scenario where everyone wins. So, who loses in this ecosystem? The answer is, the tech giants. In 2019, USD 235 bln dollars was spent on advertising in the US alone. That advertising is target to us based on data collected about us by the tech giants. How much of that windfall did we receive? Nothing! Well, with ImagineBC, the Members would receive 90% of that money.

The final question we typically get asked is, ‘How do you begin to build such as community’. Well for ImagineBC the answer is through creators. Everyday you read how the YouTube community is getting more upset with the lack of transparency around how YouTube chooses to compensate contributors. ImagineBC is focusing on existing YouTubers who understand the advantages a platform like ImagineBC gives them towards income generation. Through these early adopter creators, ImagineBC hopes to start building the size of the Member community and enhance awareness of the community. Drip, drip eventually leads to a gusher. ImagineBC has the staying power to keep fighting this fight on behalf of everyone.

Clearly building an ecosystem like ImagineBC’s is no easy task. That’s where the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ pill come in. The tech giants have no ability to control our free will. If We the People all said enough is enough, as the Pew poll suggests is beginning to happen, and anxiously reach for the ‘red’ pill, the tech giants are powerless to stop us.

About Erik Rind

Erik Rind is the CEO of ImagineBC and an expert in understanding the largely untapped potential that Blockchain and AI technologies bring forward in order to help secure user’s data. Erik has over 30 years of experience in building advanced technology solutions and has been involved in the HR services industry since 1990. His professional track-record includes starting and then selling PowerPay software for USD 22 million and becoming President and CEO of Lyceum Business Services until 2018, when he chose to embrace his entrepreneurial side. Additionally, Erik is an advisory board member to Vertalo, Dashub, and Health Wizz.

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Keywords: Erik Rind, ImagineBC, blockchain, tokens, privacy paradox, data privacy, data protection, data, monetisation, AI
Categories: Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies | Cryptocurrencies
Countries: United States
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Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies