New era of privacy fostered by decentralized cloud: Interview with CEO of Opacity Jason Coppola

New era of privacy fostered by decentralized cloud: Interview with CEO of Opacity Jason Coppola

John Williams
John Williams

Everything – from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the recent GameStop short squeeze – relentlessly reminds us of the value hidden within the individual data directing the information flow in the 21st century. It is not a secret that data records have been repeatedly named as oil of the modern époque; now, as an internet-driven era took control of all spheres of our lives, its preciousness is only getting untamed. But it has unpleasant side-effects: business appetite awakened by the scent of gain leads many corporations, even the credible ones, to resort to wicked methods. Outrageously, data selling activities make up a fair share of profit of such tech giants as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, and also fueling allegedly ‘free’ online resources like Wikipedia. This inevitably points to the fundamental flaw within the system that has to be bailed out before it becomes too late.

Fortunately, the first glimpse of hope came with covid-19. In light of numerous concerns and cyber threats that have arisen during the pandemic, privacy has become a key priority emphasized by consumers. Though it may seem quite intuitive that the democratic governments would seek to promote freedom from coercion, oftentimes the authorities take little to no care in securing the free data of their citizens. In response, the solution had to come from outside the centralized system – and, as has been seen, eventually developed in opposition to it. Making the first appearance to the public eye in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it took time for blockchain technology to gain traction as a panacea to many problems. The pandemic became that final spark that forced the tech solution to spread like fire.  

Right now, blockchain stands at the forefront of a revolution aiming to brush off the most inferior manifestations of the capitalistic order – and the unquenched appetite for unfair gain at the expense of individual freedom is among them. Instead, this groundbreaking technology maintains the promise of giving back the reins of control in the hands of people to whom it rightfully belongs. Already transforming many spheres of human life – from education to the Internet of Things, blockchain is set to forever revise the way data exchange is enacted and become a global promoter of a more transparent, open and inclusive economic system. With its quantum leaps on the way to conquering the world (just take a glance at the DeFi evolution in 2020), many concerns of the present will gradually fade away into the past and will eventually fall into the dark cave of oblivion.

That is the statement that Opacity, a trailblazer in the field of decentralized cloud storage, is backing up. Being one of the instigators of blockchain innovation, this solution is rooting out the idea of a third party taking control over private records. The key to understanding Opacity is its encrypted structure that builds a security wall around the data records. Finally, companies and individuals alike are free to store the data on the cloud which, this time for certain, has access for them alone.

Opacity is also setting new rules for ethics in the business environment. As a decentralized blockchain-based protocol, it promotes the value of privacy and trust, which has in the past been damaged by the greed-driven corporate predators. Unsurprisingly, its native token’s OPCT has faced a 370% value boost mostly derived from the interest towards data safekeeping matched with liquidity support. By propagating the idea of openness, Opacity gains an edge over other traditional solutions, whose days are numbered as this new technology is rolling out.

In light of this relentlessly approaching change, I took my chance to discuss the issue with the CEO of Opacity and ex-Microsoft, Jason Coppola. Together, we delved into the depths of forthcoming societal change, elaborated on the ways to get out of the covid calamity, and even proposed some ways about how each and every company can embrace the technological drift that is already flooding all areas of human life.

Jason, thanks for joining me for a talk. My first question: when did you learn about crypto technology? What particularly opened your eyes towards a hidden opportunity behind this, back then, untried technological innovation?

Thanks for the chance to chat and share some ideas today.

Having worked in the tech industry for 25 years, I have always been interested in technological progress from web 1.0 to 2.0 and now the dawn of web3. It seemed that blockchain and cryptocurrency was still struggling to find traction from roughly 2011-2016, before it eventually became more mainstream in 2017. By then, it was much more clear that crypto technologies had come far enough to be interesting as a platform for the future of software and technological innovation. Witnessing all the different experimental projects tackling things like finance, privacy, games, art, etc. really convinced me to dive deeper into what this new landscape was capable of and what would be possible in the future.

Let’s talk about the world after the Covid-19 crisis. How would a favourable attitude towards decentralized technology shape the post-quarantine normal? And, what’s even more essential, what is going to dominate the surface of the future terrain - is it fully decentralized systems like that of Bitcoin, or something more of a private network like Ripple (XRP)?

More and more services will be online due to workers continuing to work remotely. Post-quarantine won’t stop that trend. More security and more privacy are needed in order to take the global Internet economy to the next level. The existing Internet has too many centralized players that anchor the economy in their pockets and it is slowing things down and placing risks on the consumer.

I believe the future of crypto technology will be a hybrid of decentralized systems and private networks. This technical partnership will speed up things that can benefit from economies of scale - internet of things, finance, etc - while also allowing private transactions for businesses and individuals to conduct their arrangements as needed. It will be an interesting evolution as the past and the future merge.

If we talk about the advantages of the crypto technologies for organizations, what are they? I’m also interested to see the flip side of the coin. What are the technology’s pitfalls the leaders have to be aware of when giving a preference towards crypto technology instead of traditional solutions?

The obvious advantages with using a platform like Opacity are security and privacy. As I mentioned earlier, more and more people working online will require increased security. Hackers and data theft is already a real problem that costs companies millions of dollars every year. They need to stay one step ahead.

Traditional solutions provide a false sense of security because they allow so much control when utilized directly within the walls of IT companies' data centers. But what if they need to access data stored outside their walled gardens in these new decentralized systems? They will need to give up some control to get solutions with better security and privacy. This will be a challenge for organizations accustomed to that control.

Speaking of the pace of technological adoption within organizations. In the light of technology substituting many human-performed jobs, how do you see the image of the workplace within the upcoming decade? What can help companies to stay on top of the transformation wave?

With the pandemic driving more people to work remotely and share more data online, the path forward is clear. This trend will persist. Many people won’t return to an office environment. Businesses will save money on office rent and maintenance costs. The spending will shift to investments in better online services that increase security and privacy while enabling global business. I don’t see this essential need slowing down and the market for cutting edge online services will continue to increase worldwide.

Let us imagine the scenario when the whole data is given back to the individual customers. How can they go about it? And, if that’s the case, what will happen to numerous companies basing their value proposition on the insights derived from the consumer data?

Consumers need to take back their data. If you can use a service that doesn’t ask who you are, that allow you to retain ownership of your identity and your privacy. Remember, everything on the internet is permanent! One mistake and you have a life-long problem.

Even Google recently acknowledged that individual tracking has become a concern and they announced they will start tracking browser information in aggregate. Now, how genuine they are in this remains to be seen, but that is a sign that things are shifting. People have spoken out about hacking, identity theft, and advertising overkill. Apparently, Google believes there is still value in aggregate data, so we will see how that works out for them and others that adopt this model. The ones that don’t shift will be left behind when alternatives are available.

In your opinion, how would democratization of data actually restrain the role of authorities? How do you imagine the alternative ‘authority-free’ future might look?

Creating a layer of privacy that removes the connection between data and an individual is incredibly important to freedom of expression. Throughout history, authors and political satirists have used pseudonyms to hide their identity when writing about controversial topics. This is no different in that people want to be safe and unobserved in their personal dealings on the Internet. There is no reason to need or require oversight from centralized figures for everything we do online.

Now on a more pragmatic note – in recent years, the rumours circulated about blockchain being an inefficient solution for data storage as well as for the transaction flow. How did you manage to play around it with your platform?

Great question: Honestly, blockchain itself is not suited for large datasets and file based transactions. Blockchain is great for providing visibility into transactions that require scrutiny, like an accounting ledger. But most files don’t need to be validated for pinpoint location accuracy at all times. What is more important is that data is: network distributed, encrypted, and disconnected from any particular individual. This enables high security plus high privacy for those using the Opacity system which already uses this model.

Could you please tell us more about the protocol backing up Opacity? What are the technological capabilities of the platform, and how far do you think its adoption rate will go?

Sure. The main platform privacy benefits are held in the structure of the user-account-file non-relational system. When you sign-up, instead of providing your name, address, phone number, and credit card, you send OPCT as payment - which has zero personal information attached. You then receive a long set of 128 numbers - your personal Account Handle - that is generated similar to an encryption key and is used to access your account.

Going further, the files you upload receive an individual File Handle, a specific key that segregates each file from the account handle and from each other. The File Handle can be shared with someone privately and only they can view the file using that key.

This structure is very unique as far as I’m aware and provides a layer of protection impossible to achieve with any other service. Adoption will correlate with how many people continue to become ‘privacy aware’. Centralized entities and social media have brainwashed people for years into thinking they are doing something wrong if they don’t share everything online. It will take some time to deprogram folks to remember it’s ok to be private.

What are the ways in which OPCT token may be used by holders? Does it provide an effective storage of value, or is it primarily a means of exchange? What price dynamics do you predict on the horizon of a few forthcoming years?

There are primarily 3 ways that OPCT is intended to be used: to pay for an Opacity storage plan without the need to provide any personal information; as staking collateral by storage providers in the network so they provide stability; and for developers to build applications on the Opacity Platform and in turn charge users for the service and pay for platform access. Additionally, 1 OPCT is currently pegged to 64GB of storage which provides an easy comparison with traditional service providers for what is a healthy and stable price level, as well as tangible and fungible token utility.