As 2022 begins, two cutting-edge technologies imperil and enable the future of privacy, ownership and liberty.
That’s what Robert Grant, CEO of Crown Sterling, told attendees at the first annual Forbes Monaco Crypto & Art Gala in November. His appearance there followed a story, “The Accidental Encryptionist,” which appeared in the December 2021 issue of Forbes Monaco.
“They wanted to know about data sovereignty and how it came to be an issue, and why we felt it was so important,” said Grant. Crown Sterling Limited LLC is a digital cryptography firm dedicated to helping users claim, protect and control their data. Grant’s background includes stints as CEO at Bausch & Lomb Surgical, president at Allergan Medical, and co-founder of a series of technology firms.
Grant describes data as the most valuable asset in the world, but today it’s an asset that renders little or no value to most of its creators, but is collected and monetized by large businesses like mega-cap technology companies. Grant calls this exploitative relationship a “digital plantation.”
“New technology, however, is revealing the value of personal data to the public,” said John Sarson, CEO and co-founder of Sarson Funds.
“Blockchain technology allows the everyday internet user to be identified as the primary data provider to big tech and data purchasers,” said Sarson. “Public ledgers and secured data storage are all happening on-chain. For the first time, individuals can now have total ownership of their online activity, while simultaneously monetizing the same way big tech collects and sells your personal data. Data which is generated on a day-to-day basis without profit sharing with their users.”
Even more concerning, the proliferation of quantum computers is threatening the cryptographic technology that has, to this point, protected our most precious data.
“Quantum computers are widely believed to be able to crack current encryptions using Shor’s algorithm,” Grant said. Shor’s algorithm was originally proposed in 1994, but until recently most bad actors did not have access to the computing power needed to use it effectively. “Several organizations now have access to quantum computers, so they’re finally here. Recently, a Chinese research team reported the successful completion of a complex computation at a speed that was 10^23 times faster than today’s supercomputers. The encryptions that secure today’s bank transactions are designed so they should take 10^15 power years to break.”
The technology creates a trust issue that threatens the stability of the financial system. Currently, the industry is most focused on so-called ransomware where data is taken and held for payment.
“With an ever increasing number of high profile security breaches, we don’t feel like we can easily trust traditional financial institutions,” said Grant. “We are even seeing breaches in the cryptocurrency space.”
Ransomware is particularly touchy for financial companies because of the sensitivity of the data they collect and, as Grant points out, it is technically illegal to pay off many ransomware perpetrators as a consequence of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Yet the government is also unable to solve these problems for private companies.
“2022 may see ransomware attackers become more brazen in their choice of targets,” said Grant.
“I wouldn’t be surprised that one of these hits happens to an exchange,” he said. “What would the world do in that case? Would we even know, or would the exchange have to quietly just pay the ransom?”
The solution may be found in digital assets. Crown Sterling recently launched the Crown Sovereign token on its Crown Sterling chain. The genesis block of its chain contains what Crown Sterling calls the Digital Assets Bill of Rights, stating that digital assets were the personal property of original producers under existing law and should be protected as personal or intellectual property.
That statement would offer digital assets, including any data created by the activity of a consumer, the same protections given personal and intellectual property by state, federal and international law.
“Right now original producers have no claim or right to the data they produce, and we don’t believe that’s the way it should be,” said Grant. “That includes your search history, your geolocation, your behavioral norms, your predictive analytics, your purchase history—there needs to be a mechanism to both protect and enable consumers to own and control that data for themselves.”
Crown Sterling’s quantum-resistant encryption can be used for personal messaging, transactions and NFTs—in other words, users are empowered to create an NFT that contains and controls their data. It’s a “new model” that allows for decentralized distribution of cryptography, said Grant.
That’s where the Crown Sterling Sovereign token (CSOV) comes in. Each token is designed to deliver the company’s One-Time Pad encryption, creating an ecosystem where users can claim their assets and protect their identity.
In 2021, the CSOV token was listed on FMFW.io, the rebranded Bitcoin.com Exchange, and also on HitBTC. Grant intends to get the token listed in the U.S. “very soon” and on “many more” exchanges.
Crown Sterling just launched the desktop version of its native app and wallet. The app allows CSOV holders to store their tokens, make transfers in and out of the wallet, and access private token sale unlocking details. Token holders can also utilize the mail feature of the app to send encrypted messages and digital assets using the company’s proprietary cryptographic protocol, CrownEncrypt™. “Moving forward, the company will launch a mobile app on Apple and Android platforms,” said Grant.
“Consumers we’ll also be able to create NFTs of their data,” he said, adding that a state-transition function of the One-Time Pad encryption is also coming in 2022.
Crown Sterling is also going to implement bridging technology so it can partner with other chains to implement its One-Time Pad key encryption, CrownEncryptOTP™.
In the year ahead, Grant believes there will be a growing focus on cybersecurity and cryptography.
“The spate of high-profile breaches will likely continue,” he said. “I think in general the crypto industry will do very well, it will go through its peaks and valleys, but it will perform well overall. The public trust is going to be a major aspect of this, because one of the keys to success is to not allow over-regulation of high innovation space. If there are too many high-profile breaches, that could have an impact on how legislators look at the industry, and it could impact public perception..