With consumers becoming more conscious of the data they share in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and businesses facing the increasingly difficult task of keeping it safe due to regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), could blockchain provide the answer by facilitating the safe, secure and private sharing of data?

Announced at TOKEN2049, Asia’s leading cryptocurrency event, technology startup Ocean Protocol has developed a blockchain-enabled data sharing platform that allows safe and secure data sharing between industries, businesses, governments and experts.

Ocean Protocol will allow organisations to set the price of their data, which buyers are then able to licence. This will be done through smart contracts, a computer protocol which facilitates, verifies and enforces digital agreements. By using this technology, sellers will be able to set the exact terms of use, detailing what the buyer can and can’t do with the data and how long they will have access for.

Rather than creating copies of the data, Ocean Protocol will allow algorithms and artificial intelligence models to “travel” to the data, use it for training purposes, and then leave. This will help to ensure that data remains private and helps companies to avoid costly data leaks.

Some 16 zettabytes (that’s 2.1 terabytes per person on Earth) of data was created was created in 2016 alone. However, just one percent of that was analysed. Ocean Protocol hopes to make sharing data easier and facilitate safe use to tackle problems in both business and society.

“Our goal is to remove frictions in data sharing, breakdown data silos and equalise access to data so that it can be applied to advance industries and solve societal problems,” said Trent McConaghy, founder of Ocean Protocol.

Ocean Protocol: Ending the tech giant monopoly

Data is often touted as the ‘new oil’, due to the vast amounts of money that is being made through its collection and sale. Making use of data is viewed as key for businesses to grow and survive in an increasingly digital world.

According to McConaghy: “Data is more: more data means better AI models, means better-targeted ads, means more ad clicks, means more revenue. Follow the money, it leads back to the data.”

However, like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company, the early days of the data economy have been dominated by a select few.

“AI is the linchpin, and the current data economy is lopsided with only a handful of companies having the data supply and the expertise to mine it,” McConaghy said.

This lopsided data economy is a result of the rise of social media, where businesses like Facebook have gained access to vast amounts of user data as a result of oversharing.

However, with data vital to transforming business through the advancement of technologies like artificial intelligence, providing the entire business economy with access to data through platforms like Ocean Protocol could help to end the monopoly that those handful of companies currently hold.

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