Over 20 businesses worldwide have created the Data Privacy Protocol Alliance (DPPA). DPPA said Wednesday it intends to build a decentralized blockchain-based data system it hopes will compete against data monopolies such as Google or Facebook by allowing users to take control of their own data. 

Specifically, the Data Privacy Protocol Alliance will develop a set of guidelines and specifications for a version of CasperLabs’ layer one blockchain “optimized for data sharing, data storage, data ownership and data monetization,” according to the announcement.

The Casper Network is a proof-of-stake network where businesses can build private or permissioned applications. The network also claims to offer upgradeable smart contracts, predictable gas fees and the ability to support scale. 

Speaking at the founding members meeting on May 4, Ivan Lazano, head of product at DPPA founding member BIGtoken, presented an initial proposal. He said any system should include being able to support tools like a data wallet that gives users control over their data and who monetizes it, It should also include non-commercial data storing and sharing capabilities. He also said any data privacy system should also let commercial users onboard, verify and handle large data sets, among other areas. 

“Together, we’re creating an ecosystem with the technology and scale to compete with the centralized data monopolies,” said Lou Kerner, CEO of BIGtoken, in a statement. “The DPPA will enable true data ownership and provide consumers the tools and transparency to individually choose how their data is shared and monetized.”

In practice, the DPPA will look to become a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that will govern the protocol to optimize data sharing, data storing, data ownership and data monetization. 

The data privacy appeal

The promise of data protections and privacy has long been a driving force in the appeal of decentralized systems. The removal of a centralized body that hoards user data – and could use or even abuse it – changes the dynamics for consumers. The companies focusing on these sorts of projects also tend to see increased interest from funders. 

For example, Permission.io, one of the founding members of the DPPA, offers a platform that incentivizes users to grant advertisers and other merchant participants access to their time and data in a peer-to-peer way. The company has raised over $50 million. Similarly, the programmable privacy startup Aleo recently raised $28 million. 

With privacy becoming increasingly important, the DPPA represents another stab at figuring out ways to address the issue at scale. 

According to a recent survey from opt-in data marketplace BIGtoken, 78% of the 35,000 consumers queried said that they’re somewhat concerned or extremely concerned about their data privacy. 

Founding members of the DPPA are located in the U.S., Singapore, the U.K. and Israel. The organization includes data aggregators, privacy advocates, brands, agencies and advertising platforms.

“In a world with all-time high unemployment rates, where people are struggling to meet their basic needs, personal data monetization can allow individuals to earn enough money to at least feed themselves and their families, securing their basic human rights. This is where data ownership is truly revolutionary,” said Brittany Kaiser, co-founder of the Own Your Data Foundation, another founding organization of the DPPA, in a statement.

Kaiser was previously a whistle-blower at Cambridge Analytica, notorious for its scandal involving the use of Facebook data for political purposes. 

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