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Swash Spotlight Series: Gilbert Hill — Privacy Technologist

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The Spotlight Series is centred on putting the faces behind the data movement in the spotlight. Swash works with such an incredible web of innovators shaping the Web 3, crypto, and data spaces that we couldn’t resist an opportunity to highlight their impact on both Swash and the industry at large.

Swash’s partners and advisors include pioneering data advocates and policymakers who leverage their expertise together with the Swash team to fulfil the needs of a distributed data community.

The Spotlight Series introduces you to the people behind the movement to give you a better idea of what they’re working on, what excites them, and why Swash. Stay tuned for new releases every week.

This week’s edition of the Spotlight Series showcases a key advisor to Swash, Gilbert Hill: privacy technologist and educator in the space. Keep reading for more on his career, thoughts on cookies and data privacy, and Swash's fresh methods for solving these issues.

Meet Gilbert Hill, Privacy Technologist

Gilbert has a background in archeology and anthropology and quickly became fascinated with studying patterns before going into marketing. More concretely, he focused on behavioural marketing, where privacy and online data patterns are crucial for developing new business strategies.

In a natural progression, Gilbert started to focus on how cookie and privacy-invasive technologies influence marketing.

Recently, Swash’s CMO sat down with Gilbert to talk about the data and privacy landscape, data monetisation, individual agency, and how Swash is tackling the current bottleneck in the industry to offer a solution for people and companies.

Here are some of the most interesting remarks from the chat

Tim Berners-Lee - the creator of the World Wide Web - inspired a comment from Gilbert regarding the current phase of the internet and the intersection between people and their online persona.

“The first phase of the web was about connecting machines, and the second phase, it’s been about making us [data and attention] a product.”

He sees this evolution as something that can turn into a danger zone in the short term as companies are gathering “lakes” of data assets from individuals.

COVID-19 brought a new segment of the population online with more data available

For Gilbert, “COVID shifted a whole section of the population online for the first time,” making the need “for a baseline of privacy by design into key business processes and tech” a must-have for the future.

Gilbert sees “collective agency” as one of the most interesting concepts that can address these issues. Today, “our voice is small, and our data isn’t worth a whole lot.“

However, the aggregated value of data is huge but alienated from the individual. Gilbert asks for “an ethical framework around its use.” He is “particularly interested in the concept of Data Unions and how these address one of the biggest challenges to changing the status quo around individual data.”

That’s where he sees “web 3 projects like Swash” emerging.

How can Swash change the status quo for individuals?

Gilbert thinks that “what Swash is addressing is the fact that not all of us have crypto to stake, but we all have data, and Swash takes the existing tools of the web (the browser) as the on-ramp.”

How can people benefit from that data?

“Making a second income.” This solution is only possible by simplifying the access to new decentralised technologies like Swash with UX at the core to bolster its adoption.

Swash can be the getaway for individuals to regain control of their online avatar

Gilbert believes that “Swash is really starting to have a meaningful impact as a Data Union,” given its recent growth and penetration across different browsers.  

The future looks brighter with decentralisation as the solution for the data economy:

“Now, for the first time, I’m really seeing that these barriers are being broken down between data buyers and individuals towards a more ethical approach to monetising data.”

Gilbert is excited to “help Swash turn that into a reality,” while we couldn’t be more excited to welcome his support and vision to the movement.

Watch the full interview here:

About Swash:

Swash is an ecosystem of tools and services that enable people, businesses, and developers to unlock the latent value of data by pooling, securely sharing, and monetising its value.

People share their data to earn while retaining their privacy. Businesses access high-quality, zero-party data in a sustainable and compliant way. Developers set up and build systems within a collaborative development framework with ease.

Swash is reimagining data ownership by enabling all actors of the data economy to earn, access, build and collaborate in a liquid digital ecosystem for data.

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