Talk to any three blockchain entrepreneurs, and at least one of them will pitch a way for internet users to own their own data. Recent privacy debacles at Yahoo, Equifax and Facebook have driven home the realization that anyone with a smartphone is walking, talking, searching, eating, posting, browsing fodder for advertisers, machine learning algorithms and thieves.

And users neither control this data nor receive any compensation for giving it up. Yet, blockchain fever – entering the mainstream at the same time as this data sobriety – appears to provide an antidote, and a rash of decentralized applications has appeared to help users monetize their data.

Using cryptographic technology such as public-private key pairs, such projects aim to let users of digital services control the data they produce, many times offering a marketplace where users can do things like selling their Yelp bookmarks to an advertiser for a few bucks’ worth of cryptocurrency. But the team at uPort, an ethereum-based identity protocol, is going after a bigger prize.

For Reuven Heck, co-founder and project lead at uPort, this isn’t the kind of problem that can be answered with just another app. Because the internet wasn’t built with an identity layer embedded, Heck said, tweaking the top of the internet – the application layer – just isn’t cutting it.

Rather, the internet needs to be rebuilt at a deeper level, and according to Heck, uPort aims to do just that: “We believe we now have technology that allows us to build this as a horizontal layer across the internet … without being owned and controlled from an individual company.” That ambition has led uPort – among the oldest projects under the umbrella of ethereum startup and incubator ConsenSys – to be regarded as one of the most exciting blockchain-based approaches to rationalizing users’ scattered, insecure digital identities. Read more from…

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