Blockchain proponents promised that a new wave of distributed database technology would revolutionise and democratise data. Corporations would no longer be in control of our information. Instead networks of ordinary people, running freely available software would power the databases of the world. We would be freed us from the tyranny of the corporation.
Together, ordinary people would own and control their data. They would control who sees what and when. Financial institutions would fall and new cryptocurrencies would take over the world.
Blockchain – technology which uses complex maths equations to allow data to be held in an encrypted form distributed across thousands of computers would power this. Blockchain promised freedom, anonymity and giving power back to the people.
But surprisingly, the corporations of the world have different ideas. Giving up their control of our data, and the value stored within it, is not something they would do lying down.
So whilst the Blockchain textbooks talk about the promise of openness, the big money is moving behind closed blockchains. Closed blockchains use the technology but betray the open-source principles that offered so much promise.
Facebook’s announcement today that they are launching their own cryptocurrency, “Libra”, demonstrates how far we’ve drifted already from the blockchain dream. The blockchain behind Libra is closed. Only a small group of corporations will be able to control the data, not the thousands of ordinary users once hoped for.
Each corporation joining the clique has contributed $10million minimum as an entry free to join “The Libra Association”. So the biggest new cryptocurrency we’ve seen in years isn’t owned and controlled by ordinary people like you and I, but by Papal, Mastercard, eBay, Uber and Lyft.
Hardly the new wave in democratized data is it?