The privacy-focused blockchain file storage service Internxt has an ambitious vision: to use decentralized technology to break Big Tech’s monopoly on user data.
Their first product, Internxt Drive, aims to compete as an alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox – without compromising privacy and data ownership.
In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Fran Villalba Segarra, CEO of Internxt, described the core technology of his product and explained why data protection should be seen as a fundamental human right. He also explains the dangers of centralized architecture, why Big Tech is constantly violating user privacy, and what is available to Internet users in the Web 3 era.
Privacy as a person
While privacy advocates have long been concerned about the exploitation of user data by Big Tech, the Facebook scandal over Cambridge Analytica in 2018 expanded the importance of the topic. (As a reminder, Cambridge Analytica is a UK consultancy that has obtained data from millions of Facebook users without their consent. Their information was then used for political advertising.) In July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined social media Giant a whopping $ 5 billion in data breach.
In retrospect, a mining company like Cambridge Analytica Segarra is not surprising, who told Cointelegraph that protecting user privacy conflicts with the business models of companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft. “That’s why these companies collect more data than they really need,” he explains. “Your services are not an end, but a means to an end.”
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“Non-Known File Hosting Service”
Big tech’s erosion of privacy has forced Segarra and his team to create a new business model based on decentralization. The company’s first product, Internxt Drive, is described as an alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox based on zero-knowledge encryption and geographically dispersed data centers. He explained:
“Files uploaded to Internxt Drive are fragmented, encrypted on the client side and distributed globally, so that the server never stores a complete file but an encrypted data segment […] In these architectures, files are often divided into equally sized data segments. Each shard or block has its own address, but no metadata to provide context for that address. Storage destinations can be configured to copy data across storage arrays or distributed file systems. “
In contrast to centralized systems, in which user data is stored on physical servers owned and operated by the cloud provider, the decentralized architecture offers the associated increased security for the cloud functionality.
“If a distributed component is compromised or a runtime error occurs, it is an unrecoverable worst-case scenario where the component goes offline while the rest of the cloud remains,” he explains. On the other hand, with a central cloud storage system, the core functions are nested in the same room. “If a bug or attack succeeds in destabilizing a centralized component, the entire cloud is at risk.”
Web 3 and the future of privacy
Web 3 – a broad concept referring to the new paradigm of Internet services where users have more control over their personal information – has been heralded as a potential solution to concerns about society’s growing right to privacy. The current model, known as Web 2, is mainly driven by companies that offer services in exchange for personal data.
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The advent of blockchain technology has made decentralization almost synonymous with Web 3. Industry observers have rightly stated that this new model could challenge existing privacy regulations, especially as decentralized applications continue to grow.
“Web 3 is definitely going to be huge,” Segarra said, adding that consumer-facing apps that allow users to protect themselves online “will be in high demand by the market.”
Internxt is enjoying a successful round of seeds after raising $ 1 million in a capital increase led by Miami-based venture capital fund Venture City. Segarra says adoption is growing, with the company anticipating 1,500% annual growth through the end of 2021.