Startup SunVia believes that managing your own identity will be critical to the future metaverse.
Identification will be the most important part of making the digital future work, and personal identifiers will help individuals take control of their data – and take it away from the big platforms.
“Over the past 10 to 15 years, people’s digital identities have become more important; everyone now has a much greater digital life,” said Jay Walker, President and CTO of SunVia. “People want to be able to control their personal data and control who has access to that data.”
Current political sentiment is focused on curbing corporate access to personal data through new privacy laws, such as those in California. Advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to target individuals with relevant messages, but SunVia is betting there is a solution to satisfy stakeholders on this sensitive topic of data privacy.
What is needed, Walker says, is a more ethical relationship between consumers and advertisers, particularly with regard to how personal data might be used. SunVia is working on tools that help establish that ethical relationship by empowering people to control and grant or deny access to their personal information.
Currently, there is no easy way for individuals to verify the accuracy of personal data — or determine who benefits from that data. Yet there is a $100 billion ad industry that relies on that data. It creates billions of dollars in profit for the sellers of personal data, and there is an obvious imbalance here where value is lost to third parties.
Walker believes that new legislation must be introduced to guarantee individual rights, and that legal code must be reflected in software code.
California’s data privacy laws show a strong shift towards increasing an individual’s control over their data, and other states are enacting similar legislation. For example, California residents can require a company to disclose how it uses their personal information and whether that data has been sold.
California’s crackdown, along with hefty fines, is likely to limit the collection of personal data. Many organizations will conclude that the cost of generating data reports for individuals will eclipse any benefits of collecting that data.
Less personal data creates a problem with targeted advertising. With SunVia, however, this problem has been solved as consumers take ownership of their data and control the commercial messages they see.
“Brands still want to have a direct and meaningful relationship with consumers, and this will be enabled through our platform. It will be based on ethical licensing,” explains Walker.
For Walker and his colleague John Humphrey, Chief Revenue Officer at SunVia, almost everything about the digital future requires the need for verifiable IDs.
“In 2020, during the lockdowns, the world crossed the Rubicon with 52% of the population having at least one online account; we have now come even further,” says Humphrey. “As individuals typically have multiple online accounts – and the introduction of new digital markets, such as trading NFTs – the need for verifiable IDs is critical to market growth.”
SunVia has begun rolling out some of its technology and is seeking participants for Protagonist, an alpha version of what will become The Metaverse Operations Manager.
SunVia recently published an article that reads like a manifesto and a call to action. Here’s an excerpt:
“…the Platforms own our identities. We gave them to them in exchange for some trinkets. They now own the most important and scarce resource on Earth. We ourselves.
“People are not here to be used. We are not consumers to be classified, sliced, diced and resold to brands to fuel more consumption. We are producers. We are makers. We are the brands. economy.”
It later adds, “We need a decentralized autonomous association (DAA) to own ourselves and our information. This is the next economy. The relationship economy. Join us.”
You can read SunVia’s “Origins of the Relationship Economy” here.