Web3 is the solution to Uber’s problem with hackers

Uber is a staple of the gig economy, for better or for worse, and a disruptor that once sent shockwaves through the mobility space. Now, however, Uber is being fooled. The company is reportedly dealing with a far-reaching cybersecurity breach. According to the ride-hailing giant, the attacker has not been 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 today’s apps. Can we continue to sacrifice our data – and with it our privacy and security – for convenience?

Web2, the land of hackable honeypots

Uber’s track record of data breaches isn’t exactly flawless. Just in July, the giant announcing the ride acknowledged it had silenced a massive breach in 2016 that leaked the personal data of 57 million customers. In that sense, the timing of the new incident couldn’t have been worse, and given how long it takes to establish the damage done in such breaches, the full magnitude of the event has yet to be revealed.

Uber’s data breach is nothing special – Web2 apps are ubiquitous and extending further and further into our lives, and many of them, from Facebook to DoorDash, have also suffered breaches. The more Web2 apps proliferate in the consumer space and beyond, the more often we’ll see such incidents in the long run.

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The problem comes down to the architecture of apps built on Web2. Through their centralized tech stacks, they naturally create honeypots of users’ sensitive data, from payment details to consumer behavior. As users pass more and more data through various consumer apps, hackers have more and more honeypots to chase.

The only real solution to the problem is also the most radical: consumer apps 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 doesn’t necessarily mean a change in the app interfaces we interact with. You could even argue that continuity and similarity are the key to adoption. A Web3 Uber would look and feel pretty much the same on the surface. It would have the same general purpose and function as existing Web2 ride-hailing apps. Under 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 revenue — have been developed beneath the surface.

Web3 is all about verifiable ownership. It is the first time that people can demonstrably own assets, whether digital or physical, via the web. It’s about ownership of value in the form of cryptocurrencies, but in the case of Web3 ride-hailing also ownership of your data and ownership of the apps, underlying networks and the vehicles themselves.

In practice, a Web3 Uber will allow users to control how much data they give, to whom and when. Web3 Uber would ditch centralized databases in favor of peer-to-peer networks. Self-sovereign identities – decentralized digital IDs that you own and control – would allow both humans and machines to have decentralized digital passports that do not depend on a central authority for their proper function.

Drivers and passengers could authenticate themselves on the Web3 ride-hailing app with their SSI in a fully peer-to-peer manner. They could also choose what data to share or sell and to whom, taking full ownership of their personal information and digital footprint.

Decentralized governance will bring about another monumental shift. It means that all stakeholders, be they drivers, passengers, app developers and investors, will be co-owner, co-driver and co-earner at all levels – from the infrastructure that powers the decentralized application (DApp) to the intricacies of the DApp itself. It would be a ride-hailing app by users, for users.

Imagine if the rates Uber charges were voted by drivers and passengers, not dictated by a Silicon Valley boardroom. Ask the next Uber driver what he thinks. Users, for their part, can vote on things like price hikes during trash disasters. For drivers around the world, driving through Web3 means getting paid fairly without the need for an outside business intermediary to cut corners.

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Web3 is also enabling a new kind of sharing economy, one where anyone, anywhere, will be able to own the vehicles used by ride-hailing apps or any other kind of vehicle-centric app via machine nonfungible tokens (NFTs) – tokens that represent ownership over pools of real vehicles. It will be possible for the communities in which these vehicles operate to have ownership rights over those same vehicles, allowing them to vote on how they are used and provide them with a revenue stream. The more these increasingly intelligent machines provide goods and services to the community, the more the community earns. Web3 is turning the status quo on its head.

A shift to Web3 in consumer apps will address the root cause of the ongoing breaches, removing the need for centralized data honeypots without necessarily complicating things for users. While this is a huge paradigm shift in itself, data sovereignty is just one of the advantages a Web3 Uber would have over Web2 Uber.

In the future, blockchain will become something as invisible as the inner workings of Google Pay – just completely accessible to those who want to view it. It will be something users subconsciously deal with when ordering a pizza or going for a ride – but absolutely fundamental to a fairer, more democratic society in the digital age.

Max Thake is the co-founder of peaq, a blockchain network that powers the Economy of Things on Polkadot.

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

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