Ex-LG Security Officer Targets Ad Privacy with Blockchain Search Engine

A startup founded by a former chief security officer at LG is launching a blockchain-based advertising system that rewards users for their data.

AccessTimeIconJul 16, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:32 p.m. UTC
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A blockchain startup founded by a former chief security officer at LG Electronics is releasing a decentralized search platform he claims will be more secure for users and more cost-effective for advertisers.

Called BitClave, the startup is led by Alex Bessonov, who notably oversaw security controls and research for LG's products in 2015 and 2016, a role where he said he was exposed to how even the most carefully designed technologies can go wrong.

This background, as well as his aspiration to build different kinds of digital systems, eventually led him to create the BitClave Active Search Ecosystem (BASE), a project he began devoting his talents to full-time in late 2016.

Built on the ethereum blockchain, BASE now aspires to provide an experience akin to a traditional search engine, though one which allows users greater control over how much data they share with advertisers while providing businesses with a more fine-tuned advertising target.

"I always wanted to create systems where you have full control versus somebody reselling your data," he told CoinDesk.

And one of the "biggest pain points" for both consumers and businesses is online advertising where the likes of Google dominate.

He explained:

"You have no say in it and you have no control over your data. On the other hand, if you look from a business's [perspective], you're targeting somebody who Google tells you to target."

Decentralized search

On a more granular level, BASE creates smart contracts between users and the online advertisers they typically encounter, cutting out the ad middleman.

"You create your own identity on blockchain by shopping around, doing things on the internet, going to retail shops and so on," Bessonov said, adding:

"Every time you do something meaningful, this is recorded on the blockchain. It's encrypted with your key so it's private and it’s also anonymized. If you decide to opt into a system and go through a search similar to the Google experience, you can unlock your data."

Users are incentivized to use BASE by making searches that are relevant to the advertiser. With each search, a user receives a number of Consumer Activity Tokens (CATs), BASE's dedicated currency, from the online advertiser if the search meets the right demographic.

CAT can then be used for purchases online if a merchant accepts the currency. For example, if a user is searching for a car, they can opt to show data on their location to allow dealerships to advertise to them.

"There'll be a smart contract written by a dealership that will say that criteria A, B and C happened, I'd like to target this person with our advertisement," explained Bessonov.

Ecosystem approach

BitClave is now in the process of building an ecosystem around BASE where retailers can create their own search interface.

So far, the firm claims it's in partnership talks with online retailers to start using the system, and plans to host a crowdsale for CAT tokens later this month to boost awareness among potential users. (BitClave has set a target of having 1 million searches per month later this year.)

That's an ambitious task, as using Google and Amazon for retail searches has become so ingrained with most web users, but BitClave believes cryptographic tokens have the power to change this behavior.

"There's Google, Facebook, and Amazon and then pretty much everybody else," said Bessonov, concluding:

"We are building an ecosystem where everybody else can participate."

LG logo image via Shutterstock


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