How the crypto industry is redefining ownership and putting control back in users’ hands
In his new book, ‘It’s Mine: How the Crypto Industry is Redefining Ownership’, Steven Boykey Sidley demonstrates how the crypto industry is helping to restore data control to the user by empowering them to determine who has access to their information online.
Blockchain is transforming everything we know about ownership.
Eminent author, Steven Boykey Sidley, believes the world of blockchain technology and crypto can offer people a more demonstrable sense of ownership than anywhere else.
Sidley even challenges the notion of people owning their identity, saying ownership of identity outside of the crypto world is not guaranteed or even absolute.
“When we are born, there is a birth registration system at the hospital filled by nurses. Information filled into this system goes into a state institution. This information is then turned into an identity document, a passport, a driver’s license, and student cards. All other expressions of identity come from that one single document — a birth certificate,” Sidley argues.
“The problem is that you give your trust to a state institution to issue that birth certificate to you, and to keep it safe. If Home Affairs loses the record of your birth certificate, you are a non-person and you cannot participate in society.”
So, the ownership of identity is entrusted to state institutions, which cannot even guarantee safety in storage.
“That trusteeship, where you put your trust in other people, means that your identity is insecure and diluted because it doesn’t capture the true person you are.
You change every day with a new experience. Your true identity is not rock solid.”
However, Sidley believes that blockchain technology and crypto can offer a different and solid way for people to express and own their identity.
In his new book, ‘It’s Mine: How the crypto industry is redefining ownership’, Sidley demonstrates how blockchain technology is changing data ownership. He was in a webinar conversation on 13 September with Daily Maverick’s Richard Poplak.
The book helps readers understand how blockchain technology is helping to restore data control to users by empowering them to determine who has access to their information online. The book has also been praised for having no jargon and deciphering the often complicated language that accompanies topics around technology.
Blockchain technology, which acts as an advanced database for information, allows users to trace who owns particular goods, such as digital assets including cryptocurrencies, and provides a transparent record of ownership.
A fundamental property of the blockchain is that, once something is on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or counterfeited. Once an asset is listed on the blockchain, ownership is immutable unless the owner verifies a change. Sidley said this offers consumers much-needed control over their data.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Crypto and finance — something massive this way comes
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin exploded in 2009. And since then, many versions of cryptocurrencies and advanced technological offerings have since emerged including non-fungible tokens (NFT), the metaverse, and decentralised autonomous organisation — all of them changing the very notion of ownership.
Sidley said industries, mainly in banking with organsiations such as JPMorgan Chase and the Bank of England, have embraced cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in their offering of financial services products. “All of them have blockchain projects, some are tokenising their assets into the blockchain.”
But governments have been increasingly wary of crypto and blockchain technology, often moving to regulate them. When asked why governments have demonstrated scepticism or even pushback towards such technology, Sidley said:
“State institutions have become ossified and sclerotic over decades and decades of usage. If you say to the government ‘There is a much better way to express a title deed and car registration through an NFT and it happens fast within seconds’ you have to change an entire machine that has been in place for decades, hundreds of years. It is hard to change government processes.
“Secondly, it is about the fear of losing control. Governments live and die of control. Once the government cannot exercise control, then people find ways to not follow rules, such as cheating on taxes. And with cryptocurrencies, the room for cheating is possible.” DM
“It’s Mine: How the Crypto Industry is Redefining Ownership’ is available for purchase at the Daily Maverick shop. The book can be purchased here.