A Bitcoin for Identity

I believe that Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures is a smart investor and astute observer of technology trends. His talk at LeWeb Paris is timely, because a lot of us are looking forward to 2014 and trying to figure out what big trends are important. He does a very compelling job of making an argument that the key trends are:

  1. Organizational transistion  from bureaucratic systems to technology-driven networks.
  2. Unbundling of services because it’s now easier to distribute services separately.
  3. We are all nodes on the network due to mobile devices and it’s easier than ever to connect any nodes for almost any purpose.

During his talk, he provided an interesting take on what Bitcoin really is. He described it as an open, global, and distributed protocol, much like TCP/IP or FTP. Bitcoin, argues Wilson, is a network protocol layer which provides a way for money to flow in the same way as media or images flow today on the Internet.

At the end of the talk he predicts the emergence of a Bitcoin for Identity. A global, open, distributed protocol that allows us (the end user) an ability to control our identity and take control of our data exhaust. With such a protocol, we reduce the  ability of governments, Google, Facebook, etc. to spy on us when we don’t want them to.

Watch the whole talk or fast forward to 24:08 to see how he discusses the concept of Bitcoin for Identity.

Can we take control of our identity at this late stage? I’m not saying it will be easy. But we were able to create a protocol in Bitcoin that starts to break the old bureaucratic online payment systems, and wrest some control from government reserve banks, PayPal and other entrenched entities.

Our identities and privacy are more important than money. We at least have to try.

Why is important for a new protocol for identity that’s distributed, open, secure, and not under the control of anyone? It’s been clear since June 6th, 2013 as Mikko Hypponen points out in this very important TED talk.

I encourage you to watch it twice, not because it’s hard to understand. Rather, I expect you’ll get twice as mad and perhaps help do something about it.

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