By Ezra Vazquez-D’Amico, Manager of GiveSafely.io
The last four years have seen a growing awareness about the value of personal data and how exposed individuals are to nefarious forces, abuse, and hacks. With tech giants reaching multi-billion dollar valuations based on their monetization of personal data, coupled with high profile hacks and scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, the need for data management controls has never been greater. Increasingly, people are beginning to view their personal data as their property and the right to privacy as fundamental. This change in consciousness, particularly among young people who are more likely to use social media informed the design and recent launch of GiveSafely.io, a donation platform built by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) that uses Ardor blockchain technology to ensure user information is handed over with the permission of donors and rewarded accordingly. By eliminating the centralized database model, the main entry point for potential hackers is removed.
Executives often remark that hackers can fail 999 times out of 1000 and still be very successful but we have to succeed every single time or we have failed. The reality is that the best and brightest companies get hacked and it’s not because they aren’t skilled enough to prevent them. It’s simply a numbers game. Eventually, centralized systems get so large and so many entry points exist that even the best and brightest can’t stop the 1 in 1000. Once a hacker gets access to any data they likely get all of it. Why is this the case? It’s because most data is stored in a single database or in a single file repository. The model is flawed. The rise of blockchain technologies and data encryption should be a guide on how to do this better. This recognition of data value is what informed the creation of GiveSafely.io, an online donation platform that enables people to make donations to US-based charities (who have been evaluated and found to meet the BBB Charity Standards), gives them the power to choose what data to share and rewards them for their personal information. Should they decide to share data, donors are rewarded with GivingPoints that can be redeemed for experiences or online AMAs with experts from the charities they support. Personal data is never stored in a centralized database or file repository, it is transferred directly to charities over the Ardor blockchain with the consent of donors, free from third-party interference.
The Ardor encryption technology builds on blockchain innovations combining strong encryption and distributed consensus with general-purpose smart contracts. This goes a long way in terms of transitioning the vision of secure, decentralized computing platforms toward practical realization for everyday users. Up until now, digital tokens and the use of data transfer over the blockchain has been the preserve of niche specialists and is almost always associated with cryptocurrency and valuation rises. GiveSafely.io demonstrates how this technology can be put to practical use and deliver security solutions to everyday problems donors and charities face when interacting.
The crypto entrepreneurs of 2016-2018 were, for the first time in human history, starting to think through the myriad details of real-world information and value processing without a small elite group of owners or controllers. This process of broadening access and inclusion for digital assets, especially non-financials is gaining pace. Awareness is growing that centralized systems are inefficient and vulnerable to hacks that leave users at risk. Data encryption and transmission over the Ardor blockchain ensures that no central party has personal donor data at hand when financial donations are made with GiveSafely.io. It may seem hard to comprehend now, however, the trends and social media norms we see today were inconceivable even a decade ago before they entered the mainstream. Data encryption, higher levels of security, and a more transparent means for engagement are clearly being demanded by online users, those platforms that embrace higher levels of security and respect will most surely prosper in the future.
Ezra Vazquez-D’Amico graduated from Yale University with a BA in Ethnicity, Race and Migration in 2003, he went on to complete his MPA in Development Studies at the University of Princeton in 2013. His career has involved working as a researcher for HBO and a Program Coordinator for Public High Schools in Washington D.C.
Ezra has worked as an Associate for the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and completed an internship with the Inter-American Development Bank before joining the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) initially as an analyst where he evaluated national charities’ governance, finance, self-reporting and fundraising practices. He continues to write up Donor Trust Reports on issues that impact the charity sector and recently managed the development, launch and growth of GiveSafely.io. The platform uses blockchain technology to arrange peer-to-peer relationships where donations and data flow directly from donors to the intended charities while securing donor information.