Cambridge Analytica’s use of private information during the US presidential election has brought the issues surrounding privacy and security on the internet into sharp focus. Since the creation of the World Wide Web in 1989, the internet has been a relatively open environment, providing a platform to source information and connect in a way never previously possible. However, the freedom of the internet has not come without its dark side.
Cyberattacks, ranging from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to phishing scandals and basic online identity theft, have wreaked havoc on individuals, companies, governments and international institutions alike. Companies have a number of cybersecurity measures in place to prevent hackers from stealing our personal data, but the fact remains that it is still relatively easy to obtain the personal details of others on the internet.
While there are very few people who would advocate tighter regulations on the internet, the concern over privacy and security is a growing one. Fortunately, blockchain technology promises to reconcile this, meeting our desire for privacy while allowing us to hold onto the freedom we’ve come to expect and enjoy when surfing the web.
Recruiting with blockchain
As a globally distributed ledger, blockchain technology combines sophisticated cryptography and coding to create a decentralised, peer-to-peer database that is capable of recording anything of value immutably. This combination of clever technology and coding means blockchain is almost impossible to hack without quantum computing. One potential beneficiary of this development is the recruitment industry.
Although the public has been slow to understand the value of personal data, the coming years will see candidates wanting to take back control
Each day thousands of candidates send their personal data to recruiters, potential employers and jobsites via the internet in the hope of landing a new job. The amount of personal data shared about candidates during each stage of the recruitment process is significant. While the vast majority of recruiters and employers have suitable, secure privacy policies and cybersecurity practices in place, there is still a risk that servers can be hacked and websites subjected to DDoS attacks.
As well as the risk of a cyberattack, there is also the matter of recruiters and potential employers storing candidates’ personal details on their servers – in some cases, indefinitely. Although the public has been slow to understand the value of personal data, the coming years will see candidates wanting to take back control over who has access to their data and for how long.
Through harnessing blockchain technology, candidates can create a blockchain-based CV, which stores their entire employment and qualification history. All of the information on this CV is verified by the organisation it pertains to as part of the decentralised blockchain network, removing the need for third-party verification to prove the candidate is who they say they are.
For the candidate, a blockchain-based CV means not only knowing they will be trusted from the outset, but also that they will have full control over who can access their personal data and for how long. Simply put, smart contracts on the blockchain will enable the candidate to set specific limits over the length of time a person can hold their personal data, as well as specify who has access to it.
How to reconcile privacy and security with the freedom of the internet is one of the most pressing questions of the decade. Blockchain technology has the potential to bridge this gap, providing an infrastructure that is almost impossible to hack while handing control of personal data back to the individual.
Ultimately, the companies that survive in the new age of the internet will be the ones that understand the importance of privacy and enable customers to protect their data while continuing to use the internet freely, as we do now.