LENS creates aliases for your real emails and phone numbers. An alias is a separate email or phone number that links to your real email or phone number. You can give out this alias email or phone number instead of your real contact info. If you find that you're getting spammed through your alias email or phone number, you can revoke the alias. Revoking the alias will cut the connection between the alias and your real contact info. Since you never gave out your real email or phone in the first place, you won't have to worry about any more spam or abuse.
Lens: Our first decentralized application (dapp) built on Blockstack
Why would I want to use Lens?
You would want to use Lens if you are ready to make a shift from passive participation to active control of your data. Specifically, this is a shift from working for the data economy (you are the product) to becoming your own data owner and business.
Lens will enable you to establish your single source of truth (all your data in one place) and have it directly under your ownership and control. You would then only need to maintain one profile and one dataset. You become the business for you data.
Every person, enterprise, service, platform and application that needs your information has to go to you to request a subscription (Lens) to access to your data. You then decide what they can have access to and potentially how much to charge.
Your personal information is highly valuable and today the entire system is set up to freely harvest that data. By taking your information out of the system and only making it available from one location, under your terms and conditions, you are taking back control and putting your data to work for you.
- What does this dapp do?
It establishes your single source of truth for personal information. The initial basis for your single source of truth is your contact and some minimal profile information. Instead of having to give away your contact data, you can share a Lens for others to access the information you own. This means that you only maintain one record of information, your truth, and everyone that you share a Lens with will observe any changes.
A good example would be your address. If our address changes, then you only need to go to one place to change it. Then every person, platform, enterprise and service that you shared a Lens with automatically accesses the change.
Can Lens or Blockstack access my data?
No. Neither Lens or Blocktack can access any of the data that you store in your Blockstack container. You are the only one who has access to your data and it is encrypted with your private keys.
Do you store my email address and phone number after the validation?
No! We do not store this information. We simply sign the data (indicated with a green checkmark) as being validated.
What does Revoke do to a Shared Lens?
Why do I need to register with my name, phone number and e-mail address?
As an initial step towards verifying you, we need you to prove that you own the email address and the phone number that you have provided for your contact card. This ensures that if you share this data with other individuals, Lens users or not, that they can trust that the information you have shared with them is valid. Eventually we would like to extend this to age, citizenship or other types of documentation that can be provided by an authority.
What data does Lens keep on their centralized servers?
Lens keeps only a few pieces of data: your name, and your blockstack public keys. Everything else is only used ephemerally to verify data and then it is deleted from our servers.
How do I know that Lens isn’t harvesting my data?
Is Lens GDPR compliant?
Yes. In fact Lens was founded on the principles outlined in GDPR.
How is Lens different than an DApp like Zinc, Solid, or SpringRole?
A new ecosystem of decentralized apps is growing rapidly and many new companies are arriving on the scene. The goal of many companies is to take whatever exists in the Web 2.0 world and move it into Web 3.0. Basically that means take an app like Facebook and make it decentralized. Apps in the Web 3.0 world give user’s full control of their data; however, they do not create a single source of truth. If one app requires your phone, that phone number can’t be shared with other apps. With Lens, we are trying to solve this problem by creating a single source of truth that you own and give out subscriptions to. That way you can create a phone number once, and have any other app in the future subscribe to that information. This makes data management much easier!
- What is the roadmap for lens, i.e. what features are planned in the next few months?
We will continue to add new datasets and datatypes for you to grow your single source of truth and your new data business. Eventually we will launch the new data marketplace where enterprises and services can request to purchase access to information you permit.
- I know how Facebook, LinkedIn and Google make their money, but what is the incentive for Lens?
We are creating a ledger / directory of individual data owners. This is the first step in building a data marketplace where enterprises can request to purchase your Lens to access specific information they require and that you now can permit. Today’s enterprises, such as Nike and Virgin, all try to maintain their customer’s profile information so that they can provide services and customer success. Our service will allow them to go directly to you instead of trying to own and maintain the data!
We will generate revenue by charging a commission on the sale of the Lens. This is very similar to Ebay model. In our case, you are the owner of your data and you can sell access to it through our marketplace. There are real uses and needs to share you data, and we believe that the individual should always be able to make those decisions and directly profit from their data instead of the centralized platforms (Facebook, Google…)
The beautiful thing about LENS is that we're a decentralized technology. Most companies these days have centralized servers (think a big machine where all your data lives). While these companies do a lot to secure the data on those services, if they ever get hacked (caugh, caugh Equifax) A LOT of your data gets exposed. LENS, on the other hand, spins up a virtual machine per person who uses the LENS app. Your data (your email and phone number for example), is separate from every one elses' data. Now, someone could still hack LENS, but they'd have to hack into each device one at a time. It's like the difference between robbing a bank and breaking into a home. There's a lot bigger payoff to breaking into the bank. On top of that, LENS provides each "house" comparable security to the banks. In the future, we'll provide you with the ability to host your data on your own devices, whether that's your computer, your phone, or an external hard drive. At that point, not even LENS will have the ability to see your data.
What do I do if my contact info is already spread all over the internet? Can Lens help me take it back?
Sadly, LENS cannot help you take back your data that is owned by other companies. On the other hand, some of our users use LENS as an opportunity to start fresh. Once you've downloaded the LENS app, think about getting a new email and/or phone number. Then, only give out aliases to your email and phone number unless it's someone you really trust. At that point, your information will be truly secure.
We offer the LENS app for a two week free trial. After that trial period, it costs $4.99/month to continue using the LENS app. There is also a cap on the number of alias phone numbers you can have at one time (email aliases are unlimited). You can still revoke and create new aliases to replace the alias numbers you revoked. In the future, we may add tiered pricing for people who want to use the app less and people who want to create aliases over the allowed cap.
There are a lot of use cases we've seen people use the LENS app for. Primarily, people create aliases through the LENS app to avoid spam from services they sign up for. Say for example, you want to get a discount shopping online and you're being asked for an email address. Use an email alias to get that discount without having to worry about spam. Or maybe you want to support a political candidate, but don't want to get text messages from every single candidate to ever run in that party. Other people use LENS aliases when giving out their email or phone to people they don't trust or know well. Maybe you're at a conference and you're asked to share your email, or maybe you've been talking to someone a lot on a dating app and want to start texting, but you're worried they might turn out to be a creeper.
LENS currently protects your email and phone number. Next, we plan to build a similar service that will create aliases for your debit and credit cards. We're also looking into services that allow you to more securely share photos, healthcare data, identification information, and other types of data you may want to keep private. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any ideas of what other data you'd like us to help you protect.