Whether you’re a refugee or were raised by parents who had to flee their home – your experience as a nomad/migrant/third-culture individual has been shaped by the internet in a particular way. Moving across countries and having to grow up or adjust to different cultures; the internet was and still is a vessel to navigate through life, to gain a sense of normalcy and familiarity amongst chaos and change.
As someone treading different physical and digital realities, you’re also aware technology and information is at the core of power dynamics in society.
The trauma of information
Never before have we had so much access to the happenings of our world. During times of hardship we cling to our phones to send photos, voice messages; little signals to let our loved ones know we’re ok. We try to raise our voice to spread love, to spread awareness about what’s going on in parts of the world we care about. Some of us have had to face dire consequences for this, or live in fear of retaliation in the future.
Each signal is a data point, accumulating over time to shape a large collective value of data, coined by Shoshana Zuboff as a behavioral surplus. The value of data is in the collective because it gives new insight into emerging behaviours. The corporations and large actors extracting these big data sets get the first glimpse.
We all find ourselves as exhibitionists on the internet whether we like it or not, because the very architecture of the web prevents our data from being private. The original internet was unencrypted and current privacy technology such as Signal and Tor leak metadata at the network level. Your IP address, timing of messages, hardware, and connection information can be used to discern almost anything. VPNs on the other hand only manage to hide your geolocation, but the rest still remains exposed.
This violation of privacy only exacerbates the trauma of being a minority, further alienating us from the very place where we seek refuge and connection. Our digital and physical rights are still not clear and we face very different consequences depending on the places we have to call home. But technology doesn’t have to destroy human freedom.
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age
It helps to understand the world has yet to self-actualise on the internet, we’re still in the very early stages. Maturing as a global society means engaging with new privacy infrastructure and setting new norms. Just as we wear clothes to cover our bodies, our digital behaviour needs to be kept private and trusted with our control.
Nym’s approach is to modify our existing internet in a way which makes privacy more convenient than surveillance. How? By weaving incentive-based scalability into a sustainable network infrastructure with a combination of technologies. From mixnets, which encrypt and mix packets of traffic in multiple layers, to private access credentials and a utility token.
An open society requires tools that scale and fit into existing flows. The mixnet design and tokenomics are carefully designed to increase the privacy and efficiency of the network as more users join. More participants, whether as users or as node operators, create a larger and more diverse anonymity set which sustain large-scale privacy infrastructure as a public good. Hence: privacy loves company.
Living in a post data world
We now have the technology and incentive designs to shape a new pattern of network infrastructure which can sustain itself in our current economic system. You shouldn’t have to live life with the awful notion that some invisible entity is following you, especially if you’ve had to flee home or grow up in different cultures.
Apparently 63% of the world’s population has access to the internet. As more of the global population enters the digital age and as more individuals explore life online, we will have to ensure the privacy standards of this shared infrastructure is sound.
The digital world is a place after all, one that helps us find where we can fit in while we try to navigate and enjoy life. It’s where we want to have fun, connect with people, watch videos, share memes and music. We just just want to live our lives with dignity, in peace.