How our Digital Currency can Prevent a “Weaponised” Web

Rich James
6 min readJul 30, 2019

A key early supporter of ours, and all round great human being, drew our attention to a Netflix documentary, called “The Great Hack” — it is as chilling as it is compelling to watch.

Our tech can prevent a weaponized we by putting the “weapon” of autonomy in the hands of individual users

The documentary details the way social media exploits our data to prop up their questionable business models as part of their profits-at-all-and-any-costs mentality.

But is anyone really surprised? The polarisation of the population is literally embedded in Facebook’s mendacious business model, and anyone who uses the site is complicit in this polarisation.

Most people pretty much know this by now and more or less blithely accept it as a fait accompli — at least they do in the absence of any other choice.

Legislators and regulators are powerless. Facebook was recently fined USD $5BN, the largest STC fine in history, which actually only resulted in a subsequent USD $6BN increase in FB’s share price — apparently due to “confidence” that the fine was not higher. What action can we as individuals and a society take in the thrall of a monster that is seemingly rewarded for invasive and intolerable behaviour?

The answer is simple: choose — en massenot to use this platform and others like it. Vote with your mouse. Click away in droves and that’ll wake these incumbent tech giants up to public dissatisfaction… but — and we circle right back round to back to square one — click away to what?

Watching “The Great Hack” drew us back to an article we wrote a year ago. We decided, all things considered, it would be timely to dust it off, edit it for contemporaneousness, and publish: it was surprising how little needed to be edited; surprising (nay, alarming) how little has changed.

The title for this post is paraphrased from an article in which the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, warned of a “concentration of power among a few companies ‘controlling which ideas are shared’” (a prophecy “The Great Hack” seemed to reveal as having been comprehensively fulfilled).

In other words, controlling your data as a means to their ends.

We agree wholeheartedly with Berners-Lee: this monopolising of information is indeed one of the greatest challenges we as a society face. It has been happening all around us for years; invisibly, perversely. Whether sleeping or waking, every single day of our lives important information that could improve — and indeed save — lives on a global scale is not being effectively disseminated; hijacked by those whose agenda it serves to silo and distort for economic or political gain. Whether the reasons for this are explicitly mendacious or implicitly negligent is of little concern to those who continue to suffer and die as a result.

They are of even less concern to us. For this reason, all our work is directed at decentralising, demonopolising and democratising — and we intend for deconomics to pay for it, plain and simple.

When do we see this happening? In our view, once you figure in the potential and power of our emergent, mainstream data economy the solution to a “weaponised web” will be swifter, more direct and radical than even Berners-Lee is prepared to consider.

How to achieve this? Berners-Lee puts forward many suggestions that, although his heart is in the right place, will in many cases prove just as easily manipulated as all current attempts to bring the tech giants to heel in the interests of public good. Berners-Lee suggests:

A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions”.

What…? Who regulates the regulators…? Not a powder-faced Anglo Saxon snowball’s chance in… Is there really anyone left our there who still trusts that regulators have our best interest at heart? Create (or feed already simmering) tensions, would be more accurate. By definition, any legal or regulatory framework will always be dictated by the whim and will of a centralised authority, or group of authorities, with separate agendas away from the public good.

We need to be clear on this point: any “accounting” for social objectives will need to be by decentralised means, putting the onus on achieving these objectives in the hands of the individuals and communities who are most affected and will therefore benefit most. This is precisely what our radically-new platform, called Decentr, is designed to do. Berners-Lee continues:

Aligning the incentives of the technology sector with those of users and society at large will require consulting a diverse group of people from business, government, civil society, academia and the arts.

A decentralised data economy can prevent a “weaponised web”

No argument there. However, this consultation needs to be ongoing, and take place in a fair, autonomous, free and open, and — most importantly — accountable environment. This will ensure individual voices will be heard along with any (self-?)appointed “representatives” of the above named groups. If not, we’re back in centralised territory again; we’re back to surrendering control to others who are purportedly “better equipped” to represent us than we are ourselves.

The fact that the preceding sentence actually sort of “makes sense” to us in the grand scheme of our lives in a purportedly democratic society is what is really alarming. When did we get so used to diminishing individual autonomy and personal freedoms? When did that start feeling like the “norm”? (Oh yeah, around 2008…)

Berners-Lee further warns of “two myths” that “limit our collective imagination” when looking for solutions to the problems facing the web:

The myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points we need to be a little more creative.

Berners-Lee pretty much nails those last two points on the head; it is indeed the squalid myth of advertising as the only online revenue generator that has effectively destroyed the current internet.

We’re 100% behind him on this issue — let’s be more creative; let’s change.

But how to change the way these intrusive and manipulative legacy platforms operate — permanently and for the better? How to change this unacceptable status quo in a way that is socially beneficial and sustainable, and does not simply create another pseudo-decentralised internet equally or even more prone to manipulation by a vested minority?

Let data-value-as-currency, underwritten by money-currency (fiat and digital) pay for it — not advertising — that’s how.

To kill both these diseased birds with one hunk of digital stone is simple: by using our technology we can as individual users migrate the effective and beneficial technologies from the current faulty and ineffectual internet to a truly immutable and decentralised Web 3/4.0. This will mean all resident platforms will be forced to adapt into accountable, socially beneficial services — minus their reliance on advertising to support their platforms — or wither and die (no bad thing). This will at the same time eliminate the stranglehold advertising has over Web 3/4.0 due to the fact this new infrastructure will be exclusively powered and paid for by data and energy redistribution, courtesy of Decentr’s IoT/IoE/IoV technologies.

That is the platform we have built. That is the world we are striving to create. The above are precisely the reasons why we need the help of everyone reading this to deploy it.

Feel free to get in touch with me for more details about Decentr, or with any questions or suggestions you might have, via the contact form on our website.



Rich James

Decentr co-founder. Your data is value. Decentr makes your data payable and tradeable online.