What Do Consumers Need To Consider When Adopting Privacy or Identity Apps? – Part 2, Technical Questions

Blog | 6 March 2019

If you’ve evaluated identity apps and found that they offer the features you want, move to the next step and explore technical aspects. These questions will mostly help you avoid being caught in difficult situations later on such as being hostage to a big tech vendor. Ask the following technical questions when considering a privacy-protecting identity app:

Where is my data stored?

For example, apps that promise to store data on your phone can leave you at risk for complete data loss should anything happen to your phone. If the data is also encrypted and stored in other places (your laptop, another protected storage device, etc.), then you can recover your data even if your phone becomes unusable. You want to avoid solutions where data is stored in a central repository because your data is simply moved from one third party to another. Make sure to ask questions about data storage when looking into identity apps.


How does this app secure my data?


This is a challenging question to answer. Consider whether the app encrypts data, uses an architecture that stores data in layers instead of in single databases, and stores personally identifiable data on a public or private blockchain. It is also important to understand recovery options if your data is lost, compromised, or corrupted.


How do I get my data in and out of the app?


Identity apps become more effective as you load more data into the system. In some cases, you can manually enter data. Other apps let you upload scans of drivers’ licenses and passports. Others allow you to make claims to your data in other places. It is important to know how the app gathers your data, in terms of convenience and accuracy. If you ever need or want to stop using the app, how do you get out of it? Can you simply export your data or is anything else required? As interoperability of blockchains will become easier in the next few years this will be of lesser concern, but it is important to know the options now.

This may seem like more trouble than the average app. In reality, asking these questions now means you will avoid headaches in the future. For instance, no one had predicted Facebook would turn into the data collection and selling machine it has become today. Protect your privacy without creating unintended consequences later by making sure you understand how identity apps will work for you.

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