According to the estimates of Professor Jan Liphardt at Stanford University, it would take just ten dollars to convince the average American to disclose the majority of his or her sensitive information to a total stranger. Speaking in Mountain View, California at CPC Crypto DevCon, professor Liphardt argued that Americans could not care less about data privacy and security at a time where privacy and security are of immense importance.

In the backdrop of two of the largest data scandals in recent history (Equifax, Cambridge Analytica/Facebook), it is apparent that Americans have been desensitized to the fact that their data is at risk, Liphardt argues.

To exemplify the extent to which we do not care about our privacy and security, Liphardt explained the business model of a particular DNA ancestry business.

Firstly, customers send their DNA and $100 to the ancestry company and weeks later, the company returns the customer’s ancestry information. Following this, the ancestry company keeps and resells their customer’s DNA to the pharmaceutical industry, turning a significant profit.

To many, this would seem to be reasonable, yet Liphardt looks at it differently. He asked the audience of more than 1000 developers from Apple, Google, and Facebook, to think critically. Liphardt asked: “Why on Earth are people paying the company to sequence their DNA which they then resell… why does the company get to keep the genome information, and why does the company get to keep the proceeds?”

Liphardt made clear that this model isn’t simply constricted to DNA ancestry companies. Countless companies receive customers’ data, they are paid, and they keep and resell data. But shockingly, we do not hold them accountable. This leads me to the question: is our data in our own hands?


If you would like to watch Jan’s keynote from Cardinal Pitch Club’s Crypto DevCon for yourself check out the link below!