Web3 is the solution to Uber’s problem with hackers

Uber is a staple of the gig economy, for better or worse, and a disruptor that once sent shockwaves through the entire mobility space. Now, however, Uber is being taken for a ride. The company is dealing with a far-reaching cybersecurity breach. According to the transportation giant, the attacker was not able to access sensitive user data, or at least, there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Whether or not sensitive user data has been exposed, this case points to a persistent problem with current applications. Can we continue to sacrifice our data, and therefore our privacy and security, for convenience?

Web2, the land of hackable honeypots

Uber’s track record for data breaches isn’t exactly flawless. Just in July, the ride-hailing giant admitted to hushing up a massive breach in 2016 that leaked the personal data of 57 million customers. In this sense, the timing of the new incident could not have been worse, and given the time it takes to establish the damage caused in these breaches, the full scope of the event has yet to be revealed.

Uber’s data breach is nothing new: Web2 apps are ubiquitous and increasingly part of our lives, and many of them, from Facebook to DoorDash, have also suffered breaches. The more Web2 applications proliferate in the consumer space and beyond, the more often we’ll see incidents like this in the long run.

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The problem comes down to the very architecture of applications built on Web2. Through their centralized technology stacks, they naturally create honeypots that contain sensitive user data, from payment details to consumer behavior. As users funnel more and more data through various consumer applications, hackers have more and more bones to pick.

The only true solution to the problem is also the most radical: consumer applications should embrace Web3, restructure their data and payment architectures to provide users with greater security and privacy, and welcome this new age of the Internet .

What would a Web3 Uber look like?

Web3 does not necessarily mean a change in the application interfaces we interact with. In fact, one could argue that continuity and similarity are key to adoption. A Web3 Uber would look and feel almost the same on the surface. It would serve the same general purpose and function as existing Web2 vehicle transport applications. Underneath the deck, however, it would be a very different beast. All the benefits of Web3, such as decentralized governance, data sovereignty, and inclusive monetization models, systems that democratically distribute earnings, are designed beneath the surface.

Web3 refers to the verifiable property. It is the first time that people can verifiably own assets, whether digital or physical, through the Web. This refers to ownership of value in the form of cryptocurrencies, but in the case of the Web3 transport service, it also refers to retaining ownership of your data and ownership of the applications, underlying networks and vehicles themselves.

Web3, Web 2.0, Uber, Hacks, Hackers, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Data

In practical terms, a Web3 Uber will allow users to control how much data they give, to whom and when. Web3 Uber would abandon centralized databases in favor of peer-to-peer networks. Autonomous identities (decentralized digital IDs that you own and control) would allow people and machines to have decentralized digital passports that do not depend on any central authority for their proper functioning.

Drivers and passengers would be able to verify themselves on the Web3 ride-hailing app with their SSI in a fully peer-to-peer manner. They could also choose what data they want to share or sell and to whom, exercising full ownership over their personal information and digital footprint.

Decentralized governance will mean another monumental change. It will mean that all stakeholders, be it drivers, passengers, app developers and investors alike, will have the ability to co-own, co-govern and co-earn at every level, from the infrastructure that powers the decentralized application (DApp ) to the complexities of the DApp itself. It would be a transportation app by the users, for the users.

Imagine for a moment that the fares Uber charges were voted on by drivers and passengers, not dictated by a Silicon Valley boardroom. Ask the next Uber driver what they think. Users, meanwhile, will be able to vote things like disaster-time price increases into the trash. For drivers around the world, the Web3 transportation service will mean fair payment without a third-party corporate middleman taking a cut.

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Web3 also enables a new type of sharing economy, one in which anyone, anywhere can own the vehicles used by ride-hailing apps or any other type of vehicle-centric application through non-fungible machine tokens (NFT): Tokens that represent ownership of groups of real-world vehicles. It will be possible for the communities in which these vehicles operate to have ownership rights over these vehicles themselves, giving them the ability to vote on how they are used and providing them with an income stream. The more these increasingly intelligent machines provide goods and services to the community, the more the community gains. Web3 is upending the status quo.

A shift to Web3 in consumer applications will address the root cause of persistent breaches, eliminating the need for centralized data applications without necessarily complicating things for users. While that’s a huge paradigm shift in itself, data sovereignty is just one of the advantages a Web3 Uber would have over a Web2 Uber.

In the future, the blockchain will become something as invisible as the inner workings of Google Pay, accessible only to those who want to see it. It will be something that users unknowingly interact with when they order a pizza or request a ride, but it is absolutely fundamental to a more just and democratic society in the digital age.

Max Thake is the co-founder of peaq, a blockchain network powering the economy of things on Polkadot.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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