What Companies Do With Your Personal Data And How Blockchain Protects It

Shiru Café has established a branch near Brown University with a unique pricing model: here, students receive “free” coffee in exchange for name, emails, phone numbers and majors. Most students don’t find this disturbing at all: “I’m giving tons of organizations my data and not getting any goods or services back,” said Jacqueline Goldman, a Brown graduate student and Shiru customer. “Shiru is being transparent.”

This trend is another sign that companies believe data is the new oil. It is the fuel that drives advertising, analytics and decision-making of many enterprises – not to mention that modern AI only exists thanks to the massive amount of data it is trained on. Unfortunately, this valuable resource has been free to harvest for a long time. According to Jesse Leimgruber, cofounder of Bloom, “In the US alone, more than 10,000 companies are pooling and selling your personal data”. As such, the importance of protecting, limiting and safekeeping this resource has been neglected. After all, the part most data collectors are interested in is how they can use that data to maximize their profits – not to spend money and resources on safekeeping it.

The need for structural change

The European GDPR act was a step in the correct direction, forcing companies to bear more responsibility on the data they collect, store and who they collect it from. Companies failing to do so could face hefty penalties. The most case is Facebook, which could be fined up to $1.63 billion for its recent breach.

This breach was not a negligence in data protection like the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal—­rather it was a delicate attack that exploited a bug in a recent Facebook update. It seems like whatever Facebook does, it is still hopeless in protecting the data of its users.

Of course, Facebook is not “alone” – Google recently managed to steal the spotlight with its Google+ breach. This breach dated back to May this year, but Google wanted to stay under the radar while Zuckerberg was testifying before the Senate, where he rightfully noted that Facebook has grown past a platform developed by students in a dormitory. These companies have more active users than many countries and in this interconnected world, they share a far greater responsibility.

Perhaps the more severe (and more frequent) hacks are those targeting the medical industry, where critical information that can be used for blackmailing is stolen on almost a regular basis. These breaches beg the question: instead of playing cat-and-mouse with the hackers, is there a way to fundamentally address this problem?

The technical response

The “problem” with computer data is that it is easily replicated – contrary to paper documents. When it comes to paper money, blockchain has done a decent job in preventing this feature; by cryptographically signing the transactions, it ensures there is just one true “owner,” and by decentralizing and spreading the data into several nodes, it effectively combats the single-point-of-failure syndrome. Even if hackers manipulate and overwrite the data, they still have to convince at least 51% of the network to accept their forgery as a valid transaction.

While this works well for monetary transactions, it becomes catastrophic when applied to personal information. Blockchain could effectively protect the ownership rights of personal data, but it does not do good on protecting it from being seen – especially as everyone would receive a copy of that data. For this reason, we have the concept of Self-Sovereign Identities, or SSI for short.

SSI primer

SSI is based on the principle of encryption, where public and private cryptographic keys are used to “sign” documents. Normally, these keys are generated by an app on your device and are unique to you. To simplify how this works, this cryptographic concept is based on mathematical tricks. For every document, we can generate a “hash number” that is (almost) unique to every document in the world. This hash number is obtained by reading all (or parts) of a document and, considering the values and sequence of bytes, create a unique number that represents that document.

Next, the private key is used to “sign” that document, which means a new number is generated based on the combination of the two. The good part is that this operation is unidirectional. It’s like guessing prime numbers; there is no formula for that – we just need to divide the number by half of the preceding numbers to see if it is a prime or not.

But, there is a way to verify the number and that is via the public key. By comparing the final hash with the public key we can be sure that the person is the true owner of that document, as no one else in the world has access to that private key (this is why it is so disastrous to lose your private keys – millions were lost in Bitcoin due to this error).

SSI takes this cryptographic concept and applies it to personal data: all data is stored on the user’s device, and only parts that are necessary will be shared with the outside world. This means to attest if the user is above 18 years of age, the birth date does not need to be shared; the requesting party merely receives a yes/no answer.

Blockchain’s role

While the Personally Identifiable Information is not shared on the ledger, the coordination between the different parties needs orchestration, and that’s where blockchain comes in. In the previous example, an entity needs to verify a user’s age. For this reason, they turn to validators or attestators. These entities have been in contact with the individual and issued proofs, such as a driver’s license or a university degree, or a birth certificate. When users present their proofs, the validators are queried and asked to validate these claims and offer the yes/no answer mentioned above.

This format of sharing data is much more secure. “When releasing raw information to a lender or financial service, you normally need to provide the full raw info (like SSN, full name, or address)” according to Leimgruber. “With Bloom, you can share proof of verification without sharing raw info.” The companies are receiving a minimum amount of data and even the storage is decentralized, which lifts a heavy burden when it comes to GDPR compliance.

The road ahead

Blockchain and SSI show a promising future for protecting our personal data. Recently, BMW and American Express ME partnered with Bloom to improve their security and streamline the lending experience. Facebook, on the other hand, decided to kick it from its platform and preventing Bloom’s advertising campaigns. Ironically, this happened just a week after Facebook’s recent breach. While Facebook has long banned cryptocurrencies from its platform, the move seems controversial given Facebook’s history of breaches and the fact blockchain is not equivalent to cryptocurrency. Of course, the company has its own blockchain division, but whether this technology will be finally used to protect the billions of users on its platform, remains to be seen.

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Privacy Policy

WideBitcoin.com is committed to safeguarding your privacy. Contact us at if you have any questions or problems regarding the use of your Personal Data and we will gladly assist you.

By using this site or/and our services, you consent to the Processing of your Personal Data as described in this Privacy Policy.

Table of Contents

  1. Definitions used in this Policy
  2. Data protection principles we follow
  3. What rights do you have regarding your Personal Data
  4. What Personal Data we gather about you
  5. How we use your Personal Data
  6. Who else has access to your Personal Data
  7. How we secure your data
  8. Information about cookies
  9. Contact information


Personal Data – any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
Processing – any operation or set of operations which is performed on Personal Data or on sets of Personal Data.
Data subject – a natural person whose Personal Data is being Processed.
Child – a natural person under 16 years of age.
We/us (either capitalized or not)

Data Protection Principles

We promise to follow the following data protection principles:

  • Processing is lawful, fair, transparent. Our Processing activities have lawful grounds. We always consider your rights before Processing Personal Data. We will provide you information regarding Processing upon request.
  • Processing is limited to the purpose. Our Processing activities fit the purpose for which Personal Data was gathered.
  • Processing is done with minimal data. We only gather and Process the minimal amount of Personal Data required for any purpose.
  • Processing is limited with a time period. We will not store your personal data for longer than needed.
  • We will do our best to ensure the accuracy of data.
  • We will do our best to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data.

Data Subject’s rights

The Data Subject has the following rights:

  1. Right to information – meaning you have to right to know whether your Personal Data is being processed; what data is gathered, from where it is obtained and why and by whom it is processed.
  2. Right to access – meaning you have the right to access the data collected from/about you. This includes your right to request and obtain a copy of your Personal Data gathered.
  3. Right to rectification – meaning you have the right to request rectification or erasure of your Personal Data that is inaccurate or incomplete.
  4. Right to erasure – meaning in certain circumstances you can request for your Personal Data to be erased from our records.
  5. Right to restrict processing – meaning where certain conditions apply, you have the right to restrict the Processing of your Personal Data.
  6. Right to object to processing – meaning in certain cases you have the right to object to Processing of your Personal Data, for example in the case of direct marketing.
  7. Right to object to automated Processing – meaning you have the right to object to automated Processing, including profiling; and not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated Processing. This right you can exercise whenever there is an outcome of the profiling that produces legal effects concerning or significantly affecting you.
  8. Right to data portability – you have the right to obtain your Personal Data in a machine-readable format or if it is feasible, as a direct transfer from one Processor to another.
  9. Right to lodge a complaint – in the event that we refuse your request under the Rights of Access, we will provide you with a reason as to why. If you are not satisfied with the way your request has been handled please contact us.
  10. Right for the help of supervisory authority – meaning you have the right for the help of a supervisory authority and the right for other legal remedies such as claiming damages.
  11. Right to withdraw consent – you have the right withdraw any given consent for Processing of your Personal Data.

Data we gather

Information you have provided us with
This might be your e-mail address, name, billing address, home address etc – mainly information that is necessary for delivering you a product/service or to enhance your customer experience with us. We save the information you provide us with in order for you to comment or perform other activities on the website. This information includes, for example, your name and e-mail address.

Information automatically collected about you
This includes information that is automatically stored by cookies and other session tools. For example, your shopping cart information, your IP address, your shopping history (if there is any) etc. This information is used to improve your customer experience. When you use our services or look at the contents of our website, your activities may be logged.

Information from our partners
We gather information from our trusted partners with confirmation that they have legal grounds to share that information with us. This is either information you have provided them directly with or that they have gathered about you on other legal grounds. See the list of our partners here.

Publicly available information
We might gather information about you that is publicly available.

How we use your Personal Data

We use your Personal Data in order to:

  • provide our service to you. This includes for example registering your account; providing you with other products and services that you have requested; providing you with promotional items at your request and communicating with you in relation to those products and services; communicating and interacting with you; and notifying you of changes to any services.
  • enhance your customer experience;
  • fulfil an obligation under law or contract;

We use your Personal Data on legitimate grounds and/or with your Consent.

On the grounds of entering into a contract or fulfilling contractual obligations, we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

  • to identify you;
  • to provide you a service or to send/offer you a product;
  • to communicate either for sales or invoicing;

On the ground of legitimate interest, we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

  • to send you personalized offers* (from us and/or our carefully selected partners);
  • to administer and analyse our client base (purchasing behaviour and history) in order to improve the quality, variety, and availability of products/ services offered/provided;
  • to conduct questionnaires concerning client satisfaction;

As long as you have not informed us otherwise, we consider offering you products/services that are similar or same to your purchasing history/browsing behaviour to be our legitimate interest.

With your consent we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

  • to send you newsletters and campaign offers (from us and/or our carefully selected partners);
  • for other purposes we have asked your consent for;

We Process your Personal Data in order to fulfil obligation rising from law and/or use your Personal Data for options provided by law. We reserve the right to anonymise Personal Data gathered and to use any such data. We will use data outside the scope of this Policy only when it is anonymised. We save your billing information and other information gathered about you for as long as needed for accounting purposes or other obligations deriving from law, but not longer than 1 year.

We might process your Personal Data for additional purposes that are not mentioned here, but are compatible with the original purpose for which the data was gathered. To do this, we will ensure that:

  • the link between purposes, context and nature of Personal Data is suitable for further Processing;
  • the further Processing would not harm your interests and
  • there would be appropriate safeguard for Processing.

We will inform you of any further Processing and purposes.

Who else can access your Personal Data

We do not share your Personal Data with strangers. Personal Data about you is in some cases provided to our trusted partners in order to either make providing the service to you possible or to enhance your customer experience. We share your data with:

Our processing partners:

  • facebook.com
  • google.com
  • bing.com
  • twitter.com
  • pinterest.com

Our business partners:

  • facebook.com
  • google.com
  • bing.com
  • twitter.com
  • pinterest.com

Connected third parties:

  • facebook.com
  • google.com
  • bing.com
  • twitter.com
  • pinterest.com

We only work with Processing partners who are able to ensure adequate level of protection to your Personal Data. We disclose your Personal Data to third parties or public officials when we are legally obliged to do so. We might disclose your Personal Data to third parties if you have consented to it or if there are other legal grounds for it.

How we secure your data

We do our best to keep your Personal Data safe. We use safe protocols for communication and transferring data (such as HTTPS). We use anonymising and pseudonymising where suitable. We monitor our systems for possible vulnerabilities and attacks.

Even though we try our best we can not guarantee the security of information. However, we promise to notify suitable authorities of data breaches. We will also notify you if there is a threat to your rights or interests. We will do everything we reasonably can to prevent security breaches and to assist authorities should any breaches occur.

If you have an account with us, note that you have to keep your username and password secret.


We do not intend to collect or knowingly collect information from children. We do not target children with our services.

Cookies and other technologies we use

We use cookies and/or similar technologies to analyse customer behaviour, administer the website, track users’ movements, and to collect information about users. This is done in order to personalize and enhance your experience with us.

A cookie is a tiny text file stored on your computer. Cookies store information that is used to help make sites work. Only we can access the cookies created by our website. You can control your cookies at the browser level. Choosing to disable cookies may hinder your use of certain functions.

We use cookies for the following purposes:

  • Necessary cookies – these cookies are required for you to be able to use some important features on our website, such as logging in. These cookies don’t collect any personal information.
  • Functionality cookies – these cookies provide functionality that makes using our service more convenient and makes providing more personalised features possible. For example, they might remember your name and e-mail in comment forms so you don’t have to re-enter this information next time when commenting.
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Read more about cookies on our Cookie Policy

Contact Information

email: [email protected]

Changes to this Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to make change to this Privacy Policy.

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Last Update: May 25, 2018