My perspective is that there is a strong use case around personal data storage and consent management. This is with a backdrop of changing personal data protection regulations, shifting consumer attitudes and behaviours around data privacy and more organisations taking a strategic perspective to bring verifiably trustworthy products to market. Forward looking companies are putting more focus on baking privacy and security into product architecture. As such, SAFE (as it is progressing and is anticipated to evolve) will cover many bases. It aligns to broader considerations I know are being factored into everything from national data sharing standards to new products in the process of being brought to market. At a high level the below are part of the consideration set and SAFE is on the radar.
From this standpoint SAFE won’t solve all of the problems. However, more ambitious technical approaches like SAFE promote more effective data protection practices. They support compliance initiatives and enhance Data Ethics Frameworks.
Reducing cost for businesses
Through more effective data storage methods and consent management, businesses and application developers can reduce both the cost of data security and compliance associated with their data processing activities.
Reducing risk for individuals and organisations
Centralised data is attractive to bad actors. Most here in the forums know this. Decentralising data greatly reduces the risk of data breaches, whilst, as above, decreasing the cost of data management and compliance. This results in more available budget for higher value customer and business activities.
Lower cost of enforcement
By reducing the data management and compliance burden on businesses, and mitigating risks associated with personal data (breaches, unethical and illegal use etc) having orgs building on top of SAFE can significantly reduce the monitoring surface required by regulators. While many decision makers in policy or legal practitioners are not known for being forward thinkers, I can say from my experience working in this area they are at the least discussing it as part of the consideration set.
Depth of individual control
SAFE puts the individual at the centre of their data sharing ecosystem.
This aligns to the purpose of current and emerging data privacy and protection standards and frameworks by empowering people with their data.
Reducing information asymmetry
SAFE can limit the likelihood that information monopolies flourish. It can enhance democracy and support optimal market functioning. This is an area of significant relevance right now and is recognised as something that needs to be addressed.
Data portability and data mobility
Current technical implementations make such outcomes difficult and costly for individuals and organisations. Building on top of SAFE theses outcomes are embedded into the design. It solves many problems that arise in these areas in one swoop.
It can definitely be argued there are a plethora of other projects and well established proprietary solutions out there (IOTA, Blockstack, Holochain, Microsoft’s decentralised identity, Forgerock with UMA, Digime etc etc). It is no doubt a long list. Last years Privacy Tech Vendor Report from the International Association of Privacy Professionals ballooned on the previous year. But I would assert they will not be able to compete.
The ease of which large organisations can address many of the technical data protection challenges with a simple SAFE API and some creative UX will quickly be realised once we are live. Particularly with the clients I am working with. Think of the capabilities of SAFE when part of a repertoire of trustworthy Open Source tech that companies can start incorporating into discovery work.
Yes, it is still early and this future many of us are actively working towards is not certain. Post Fleming when Maxwell makes a mark I am confident more organisations will seriously start looking at it. And the confidence is growing every product update
In saying all this there is still a long way to go before political, legal and business thinkers and decision makers come around. They are risk averse in the public and private sector. But it may only take one bold strategic move from a large company (or country) to shift the market.