SunVia bets that controlling your own identity will make the metaverse successful

There's a battle raging over data privacy. SunVia's solution gives control to the individual and creates a more ethical relationship between consumers and corporations.
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor
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Startup SunVia believes that managing your own identity will be critical to the future metaverse. 

Identification will be the most important component in making the digital future work, and personal IDs will help individuals gain control of their data -- taking it away from the big platforms. 

"Over the past 10 to 15 years, people's digital identity has grown in importance; everyone now has a much larger digital life," says Jay Williams, President and CTO of SunVia. "People want to be able to control their personal data and manage who has access to that data."

The current political sentiment is focusing on curbing corporate access to personal data through new privacy laws, such as those in California. Advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to target individuals with relevant messages, but SunVia is betting there's a solution to satisfy the stakeholders in this sensitive subject of data privacy.

What is needed, Williams says, is a more ethical relationship between consumers and advertisers, specifically regarding how personal data can be used. SunVia is working on tools that will help create that ethical relationship by enabling people to manage their personal data and grant or deny access to it.

Currently, there is no easy way for individuals to check the accuracy of personal data -- or to control who profits from that data. Yet there's a $100 billion advertising industry that relies on that data. It creates billions of dollars in profits for the vendors of personal data, and there's a clear imbalance here with value being lost to third-parties. 

Williams believes that there needs to be new legislation to guarantee individual rights, and that legal code needs to be reflected in software code. 

The California Data Privacy laws show a strong shift to increasing an individual's control over their data, and other states are introducing similar legislation. California residents, for example, can demand a company to reveal how it's using their personal data and if that data has been sold. 

California's tough approach, along with large punitive fines, is likely to limit the collection of personal data. Many organizations will conclude that the cost of generating data reports for individuals will eclipse any benefits from collecting that data.

Less personal data creates a problem with targeting advertising. With SunVia, however, this problem is solved because consumers will own their data and manage the commercial messages they see. 

"Brands still want to have a direct and meaningful relationship with consumers, and this will be enabled through our platform. It will be based on ethical licenses," explains Williams.

For Williams and his colleague John Humphrey, Chief Revenue Officer at SunVia, almost everything about the digital future requires the need for verifiable IDs.

"In 2020, during the lockdowns, the world crossed the Rubicon with 52% of the population with at least one online account; we've come even further now," says Humphrey. "With individuals typically having multiple online accounts -- and the introduction of new digital markets, such as trading NFTs -- the need for verifiable IDs is critical to market growth."

SunVia has begun to roll out some of its technology and is looking for participants for Protagonist, an alpha version of what will become The Metaverse Operations Manager.

SunVia recently published an article that reads like a manifesto and a call to action. Here is an excerpt: 

"… the Platforms own our identity. We gave it to them in exchange for some trinkets. They now own the most important and scarce resource on the planet. Ourselves.

"People are not here to be used. We are not Consumers to be classified, sliced, diced, and resold to brands to fuel more consumption. We are Producers. We are Creators. We are the Brands. We are now the drivers of the economy." 

It later adds, "We need a Decentralized Autonomous Association (DAA) to allow us to own ourselves and our information. This is the next economy. The Relationship Economy. Come join us."

You can read SunVia's "Origin of the Relationship Economy" here.

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