Zcash (ZEC), which is a privacy coin, was launched in 2016. It has since unveiled an upgrade of its system on May 31, that will enable users to make trustless digital cash payments via mobile phones. This is not a positive development for everyone.
Innovating crypto projects faces many challenges due to the uncertainty, unfamiliarity and public intrigue around privacy. This includes its complexity, misuse, and speculative activity. Privacy is a fundamental principle and source of pride for crypto projects like Zcash. However, it has been demonized in the past by those in power such as regulators, politicians, academics and banks.
However, data breaches and frequent hacks have shown that privacy protection is even more important than ever. Crypto firms can help to advocate for the protection of consumers through privacy-focused projects.
Related: Privacy coins and their differences from Bitcoin.
Consumer sentiment and corporate malfeasance
After the shocking revelations about the Equifax breach in 2017, financial privacy and data became a hot topic. The most private financial information of almost every American household was given to third-party providers without their consent or knowledge. It was not adequately protected.
Americans have been kept from accessing their most sensitive financial information for many years. Equifax’s negligence has made it clear how fragile our financial security and privacy are. The situation has only gotten worse over the years. Data breaches affected nearly 294 million people in 2021. More than 18.5 millions records were exposed. This was the most severe year for corporate data breaches ever since 2017.
The bottom line: The crypto industry needs a villain. It is necessary to remind mainstream consumers of the unethical practices and failures of companies to protect their data, as well as deceitful use of it. It can’t just be a message of “tear it all and leave the system”. Web3 can help prevent this from happening, but it also gives users control over their data.
Similar: Privacy loss: Why we must fight to decentralize the future
Take notice, policymakers
Policymakers were captivated by the scandal over financial information being lost. It’s not much. Cristiano Lima, The Washington Post’s editor, put it this way:
“While everyone agrees that Congress must do more than talk — specifically setting rules for the collection and use consumer data — actions have remained inaccessible.”
This is why it’s so important. Americans cannot rely on legislators to protect their privacy.
Takeaway: Americans are growing frustrated with Big Tech and their trust in the government is at an all time low. This is a chance to create a wedge, tap into these feelings, and at the same moment strike a “privacy-first” narrative that empowers Americans in their quest for protections.
The message projects must establish three things: 1) Why people should want everything, from their data to their texts messages to be private; 2) How much of our legitimate financial privacy rights and thus our financial destiny have been compromised or removed from us; and 3) Privacy is a constitutional right that most Americans want.
Related: Control, identity and self-custody: How regulators went wrong
Cryptocurrency is stigmatized
We must address the elephant in the room. We are losing the fight to define our industry. The privacy conversation is being closely scrutinized by media, law enforcement, and other regulatory bodies. This quote is from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren:
“DeFi is the most hazardous part of the crypto-world. […] This is where scammers, cheats, and swindlers mix with part-time investors as well as first-time crypto traders.
These attacks share a common theme: they exploit crypto’s privacy strength, its breakthrough development as an almost impenetrable way to protect the identity of its users as well as their financial information, and make it appear as an extreme negative. This means that privacy projects can be used to facilitate drug dealers, suspicious transactions, tax collectors, and regulators.
The takeaway: Privacy-focused crypto projects that are not clear about this aspect of the story will allow their brand positioning and expose themselves to further scrutiny, negative coverage and possibly legal action. This could be detrimental to their longevity and value. It is not possible to act.
Related: Why digital currencies merit a better reputation
We have failed to organize the industry and create a plan that resonates with our target audience and will grow our movement. We will be defined by others, which could lead to our downfall.
We must normalize privacy and demystify it. And, most importantly, we must find allies for our cause. Privacy advocates and projects from both inside and outside crypto must join forces to achieve this goal.
This article is not intended to provide investment advice. Every trade and investment involves risk. Readers should do their research before making any decision.
These views, thoughts, and opinions are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cointelegraph.
DittoPR’s founder and CEO is Trey Ditto. Trey Ditto is a former journalist for Associated Press and former deputy press secretary to U.S Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. He is also a leader in communications in the crypto industry.