Technology is designed to fit seamlessly into our lives and make lives better. Social media is ubiquitous because it exploits a common human vulnerability – the need for constant validation!

At the start, there were companies like Yahoo, AltaVista, Google and others helping consumers with search, and to connect with each other, using their products. And then the internet evolved into Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking sites for people to connect on different contexts.

These companies thrived on monetizing our data that they collected from our interactions. With time, they became stronger and morphed into monopolies in their respective contexts. Our passive acceptance of their ‘Terms & Conditions’, stemming from our sense of ‘fear of missing out’ has made us trade our privacy and our souls for connectivity and connectedness.

Let us look at some hard facts:

● There are 4.1 billion Internet users in the world as of December 2018 out of which 49% of users are Asian.

● Over 5 billion Google searches are made every day.
● There will be an estimated 2.77 billion social media users in 2019.
● Retail sales of $2.84 trillion were influenced by the internet in 2018.

We are creating an unprecedented data footprint without realizing its impact on our lives. Our digital behaviour is being tracked at every step. We treat the internet as a safe house to backup all our data and communications, so that we don’t ever ‘lose it’. And in doing so we have unwittingly become data sets to be bought and sold on the market.

Consider this – Acxiom, a US-based consumer marketing database giant, said its database contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person.

Our relationship with our devices is a polyamorous affair. Once out on the internet, our personal information remains there forever, even if we delete it at our end. No matter how secure the platform is, our data is constantly being watched, stored, interpreted and profiled.

Now let us imagine a scenario – one of these digital powerhouses decides to pull the plug on all its businesses. What happens to all our data? Where does it go? All our emails, communications, images and files that we stored on these platforms will be gone in an instant and with it a huge part of our lives.

Google owns all the data that we stored on its servers and in doing so we gave Google permission to use it or obliterate it. Ditto for Facebook and other data autocracies. We don’t own our information once we put it on these platforms.

Just like in human history there were monarchs who controlled every facet of human life, the world wide web too is controlled by a few data monarchs. We have inadvertently regressed to a monarchical stage in the digital world.

The internet needs to be decentralized and distributed so that no one entity can take it down or corrupt it. We need nothing short of a revolution to take back the control of our own online lives.

About the author:

Mr. Bijai Jayarajan is an entrepreneur, currently working on his second venture – Houm Technology Singapore Pte. Ltd. His first venture Loylty Rewardz Mngt Pvt Ltd – India’s #1 loyalty & rewards management company was sold to Bill Desk – India’s #1 bill payments company.

Founded in 2008, Loylty Rewardz was Bijai’s first venture. As Bijai worked to grow the company, he successfully raised over USD 26 million through 3 rounds of venture capital investment into Loylty Rewardz – first from investors VenturEast and Canaan Partners based in the Silicon Valley.

In 2015, the VC investors had a profitable exit from Loylty Rewardz by selling their stake to BillDesk, India’s #1 bill payments company, whose investors include General Atlantic, Temasek and TA Associates.

Started as a one person venture, the Company grew to 500 people strong, company processing over 200 million transactions per month worth over USD 6 billion, for over 1 billion consumer profiles. Loylty Rewardz manages loyalty programs of over 70% of all debit cards issued in India.

In December 2017, Bijai exited Loylty Rewardz after the successful acquisition of the company by BillDesk. He is one of the very few entrepreneurs in India to have given multi-bagger exit to his venture capital investors.

Post his exit, Bijai has been working on his second venture for over a year – an innovative consumer Internet product which would change the way individuals know and use the internet today.

Related Post