Privacy is a dream that has, sadly, not yet come true. As individuals on the internet, it is our right to have privacy, especially when it comes to making digital transactions during our time on the internet in general.
Wanting to have privacy in the digital space is something people swap for convenience. Should that be the case? Absolutely no.
What is Centralization?
In short, centralization refers to the control of a system (or a network) by a central authority. Governments are an example of centralization in action. The government serves as the country’s central authority, establishing and enforcing laws, regulating foreign relations, and making other choices that affect the entire country. Governments work as a proxy for the general public, making decisions on their behalf.
Centralized structures are similar. A central server will have all of the data and metadata stored in it which gives the authorities who control these servers access to our personal information. We have to trust these central authorities to act in our best interests. However, there have been many instances where they haven’t. Several Fortune 500 companies have lost a fortune due to data breaches and privacy scandals.
Major Privacy Threats on the Internet
Spywares and bugs are the biggest privacy threats when it comes to privacy in centralized applications such as messengers. Ad companies and internet service providers monitor the information you share on the internet on a day-to-day basis.
Ever wondered why some annoying ads follow you around? It can be embarrassing to have ads that are based on your personal search history thrust upon you, especially if you’re in a public place.
In addition to this, hackers are always on the lookout for information that they can exploit you by using phishing, snooping, pharming and social engineering attacks.
Privacy Implications of Centralized Messengers
Centralized messaging applications own up to a lot of cons than pros. It is necessarily a very problematic aspect of something that should be private among the sender and receiver, messaging. Centralized messengers run on ‘blind trust’ by the users on the central authority which is well, not exactly secure. There have been cases where the very same ‘trust’ had led to data exploitation of many innocent people (for the benefit of various other groups).
Take an example from the infamous ‘Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal’ which mentioned well-known names such as Facebook, a key player in the social media space. The personal data of approximately 84 million people were being used and processed through algorithms and in a way to influence its users (through certain directed posts and videos) into favouring a particular political party. This goes against democracy and fair elections. One way to solve this is by protecting our conversations using a private messaging app.
Why Do We Need Privacy in Messaging?
Privacy shouldn’t be something that you swap another aspect for (such as convenience). It is very much a necessity and should be given importance accordingly.
Privacy paves the way to limiting the power of the central authority and gives you the freedom to relay your messages without the fear of being under constant surveillance. The respect you deserve as an individual when needing privacy is not something unreasonable. It is a very valid need and shouldn’t be thought of any less. To not be judged on our personal views and to be able to maintain an online persona that the individual desires are other reasons why privacy should be feasible to all, especially during a conversation. The user should control the aspects of their conversations in the digital space.
The violation of the people’s rights doesn’t essentially come out as it is backed by many powerful and problematic groups, but when it does, it throws light on the whole ordeal and gives power to the proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Many tech companies came up with their own messengers which gave sole importance to privacy but, unfortunately, haven’t really reached that goal. There always seems to be a problem that remains unsolved with every coming up-gradation. Will it remain a dream? We hope not. Privacy goes hand in hand with decentralization. That’s why Beldex is building BChat, a privacy messenger that’s protected by both sound cryptography and decentralization.