By Charles Guillemet, CTO at Ledger.
For several decades now, many of us have forgotten that privacy is important because we mistakenly believe that our fundamental freedoms are protected. The bad news is, the digital field is not a democracy-like environment – because it does not safeguard our privacy.
When you use a Web2 platform, it’s free because you are the product. Web2 companies have created smart incentives for us to share our personal data. Many people would say: ”After all, why would my privacy matter, as I have nothing to hide?” For us, this is the wrong way of thinking. We all have plenty of stuff that we want to keep to ourselves. It’s the very nature of our private lives.
Not convinced yet? Let’s imagine that you live in a country where the government listens to your conversations, watches your personal habits, and has the capacity to cut off your citizenship simply by clicking a button. Would you enjoy this? Probably not. Well, this is pretty much happening in the digital field.
Paradoxically, many of today’s Web3 players usurp your identity and right to privacy too. If your crypto is on a centralized exchange, you not only give up your control over your money, but also your privacy. An exchange requires a full KYC. It collects your identity, your behavior, IP address and, of course, your digital money. With centralized exchanges, you are not in control of anything. You are not self-sovereign. Big Brother remains present.
In contrast, Ledger stands for your privacy for two key reasons. First, we provide best-in-class self-custody solutions. And self-custody means true self-sovereignty when you manage your digital assets. Second, our incentives are not your data. We don’t make any money out of your data. In fact, we don’t even know who you are since we don’t hold your name and IP address.
Our “Freedom-By-Design” Initiative
To go further towards a privacy-enabled world, we decided to launch the “Freedom-By-Design” initiative. With this new paradigm, you don’t even have to trust us. We provide a privacy-enabled experience, by design.
If you are a Bitcoiner, you can already run your own Bitcoin node on Ledger Live, which means that you can connect Ledger Live to your node without relying on us. We are also working on integrating TOR, an open-source software, on Ledger Live, enabling anonymous communications over the internet. If you use Ledger Live through TOR, it is impossible for us to identify you. Your experience is anonymous, and your right to privacy is respected by design.
At Ledger, we’re also convinced that the future of privacy is trustless, and that the solution lies in technology, and it’s called Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP). ZKP enables one to prove a property without giving any information about the data in question… Sounds magic, right?
With ZKP, one can prove to a decentralized network that a transaction is valid without giving any information about the transaction. In concrete terms, you can prove that you’re above 21 without revealing who you are. You can prove that you did a KYC without giving your name. You can do a valid transaction on-chain anonymously. Ledger will strongly support these use cases.
This is what the future of privacy should look like. We are building tools to empower users with privacy so they don’t even have to trust us. Privacy is freedom, and so it should be guaranteed, by design.