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Decentralizing Data Brokerage

There is a lot of exciting discussion happening on the Insights.Network Telegram channel. Make sure to join us on Telegram at…

5 min read
Decentralizing Data Brokerage

There is a lot of exciting discussion happening on the Insights.Network Telegram channel. Make sure to join us on Telegram at

Today, one of our community members asked us what inspired the team to build a decentralized data exchange — so I thought I would write this post to discuss a few things: First, how the current data brokerage industry functions, what kind of data they store on each of us, and how the data is managed (insecurely) and monetized (unbeknownst to most of us). Here’s how it works!

One of the world’s leading data brokers, Acxiom, stores up to 1,500 data points on every one us. This includes everything from date of birth, gender, number of children, which credit cards you own and spend the most on, all the way to your fast food eating habits. This data is purchased and or scraped from the databases of large consumer Companies. Acxiom will pay for the data they harvest, repackage it into detailed profiling of all of us, and then resell their findings to other Corporations for a profit.

You can view what data Acxiom has on you by visiting I was shocked when I first visited about the data and searched myself to see what types of information Acxiom had stored on me. The results were frightening…I even took a screenshot which I still have today and have posted it below to give you a real world example. Acxiom knew how much money I made last year, the car I drive, my birthday, how many adults are in my family, and that I have two children?!? Well, they aren’t always perfectly accurate, and in this case, they were wrong about how many children I have…Or at least that I’m aware of…I have no children.

Jokes aside, this was my wake up call to the abusive data brokerage practices of corporations. If you look closer, they even give you the option to edit or remove your data! This would be nice, if there were some form of reward or compensation for improving the quality of Acxiom’s data…but there’s not.

These data brokers not only store our personal information — they make a lot of money selling it! 200 Billion dollars per year to be exact…

There are three main problems that need to be solved here:

Linked to identities: Data brokers collecting data points across all industries and then storing it as a detailed profile of each of us is an invasion of our privacy and tends to be abused or compromised. Data brokers sell to a wide range of clients, including foreign governments. It is feasible foreign governments could use the profiling of another nations’ consumers to target them in advertising campaigns to influence the outcomes of elections or public opinion on foreign policy which may not be in the interest of the citizens they’re targeting.

No Profit Share: Of the $200 Billion dollars of revenue generated by data brokers each year, we, the consumers who create the data, receive almost none of it.

Centrally Stored: The Centralized storage of our information is an outdated technical infrastructure that over time has proven to consistently fail by providing a single point of failure for hackers. Most recently, Equifax, one of the world’s largest consumer data brokers was hacked, and over 40% of United States Citizens’ personal information, such as social security numbers, and credit history was stolen. These social security numbers, which can be used by thieves to open credit lines in other people’s names, take out mortgages, and destroy the lives of good, hardworking citizens, can now be found circulating on the dark web for $3USD per social security number. All because a Company most of us know nothing about, harvested our data and stored it improperly. Equifax generates about $3 billion dollars per year while the rest of us are left holding the empty bag with our identities compromised. It is time we not only demand — but require — a better solution!

The better solution: Blockchain Solves These Problems

Secure Identity Management: As we move forward into the age of decentralization, one of the new standards we recommend as common practice for Internet Companies is to immediately shift towards decentralized storage of data. This is now made possible compliments of blockchain based P2P network and file storage services such as FileCoin, RLC iExec, StorjCoin, Sia Coin, and many other great organizations who have set out to build this infrastructure and successfully implemented the necessary token structure to incentivize network adopters.

On the most basic level, the way this decentralized storage works, is a user can submit a piece of data for storage into this network, where it is sliced into 1,000 pieces of data and dispersed in many directions for storage across the network. When the user wants to view that piece of data they submitted, they simply open their local app client, which syncs with the network and calls all 1,000 pieces of data back into a viewable unit in the local client of the user. This is a revolutionary advancement in the secure storage of data for the Internet Age and we must demand it becomes the new standard all large corporations and small companies alike must adopt.

Smart Contract Data Exchange: This relates more specifically to data brokerage and the Insights Network. With the rise of smart phones we are now measuring most of our daily activities without having to do anything besides keep your smart phone turned on. Apps that come preset on your iPhone can measure how many steps you take each day, your fitbit keeps a constant monitor on your heart rate, Facebook saves all of your data into an exportable format. Very soon, Insights Network will have a decentralized mobile client for users to store, manage, and monetize all of their data. Their data will never be stored on a server but rather on their local client or fragmented across a peer to peer network. As their data constantly streams into their application, it can be monetized via a smart contract marketplace that securely governs and facilitates the exchange of data for INSTAR tokens. Identities in the Insights Network are verified by network contributors over our Secure Multiparty Computation protocol to ensure the data is accurate. You can read more about SMC in our previous post here and about our Partnership with Partisia, the world’s founding fathers of SMC in commercial use.

It is time the internet community comes together around projects like the Insights Network and demands the Corporations abusing us are put to a stop. The control and monetary benefits of the value we create each day in our data now belongs to us.

Please join us in our mission and become a contributor to the Insights Network community. You can always find us on Telegram and get directly in touch with us.

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a giant leap forward for Blockchain Technology.

-Team Insights


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