A newly-revealed data tracking deal between Google and Mastercard raises consumer privacy concerns and makes the case for private money such as Dash.
The reported deal is designed to bridge the gap in purchase data collection between online and offline commerce. At present, Google tracks users’ online shopping activity, using the data to focus its extensive advertising platform to more precisely target shoppers based on their other purchases. Without direct access to consumer credit card data, this introduces a data gap when in-store purchases are made. However, the new deal with Mastercard would share the missing data to complete the advertising picture, using information gleaned from offline card purchases to supplement online data. Mastercard reportedly denied that this data would be used to identify precise purchases.
Online cryptocurrency purchases are not necessarily private either
Instances of consumer privacy breaches such as those mentioned above may well drive more users to cryptocurrency. However, privacy issues have been identified with even pseudonymous cryptocurrency purchases. According to research conducted by Princeton University, purchases involving cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could be linked to user identities through online shopping. By using tracking cookies, specific Bitcoin addresses were linked with users after purchases. With a large enough pool of addresses linked to a single user, chain analysis techniques could be used to correlate addresses identify whole wallets and balances.
Not only does this show that cryptocurrencies may not be as anonymous as originally perceived, but when used for online commerce they may actually be less private than other forms of payment. Address linkage to the point of estimating wallets could allow a third party to know wallet balances, revealing how much each user owned, data that is relatively more difficult to attain with credit cards.
Dash maintains an emphasis on privacy for regular users
Dash has kept a strong emphasis on transaction privacy since its inception as Darkcoin, providing untraceable optional transactions for over four years now. With Dash merchant adoption on a sharp rise, with approaching 3,000 merchants worldwide accepting it for payments, about 1,200 of those in Venezuela alone, it may well surpass Bitcoin as the most-used cryptocurrency for payments in the coming years, if it has not already. As such, Dash’s commitment to privacy by maintaining its time-tested PrivateSend feature will become increasingly important as more consumers rely on it to maintain their financial privacy online.