Do you get the sense that someone or something is always keeping track of where you go on the internet?
A 2021 report by Freedom House found that surveillance technology, which is a euphemism for “spyware,” “has given governments more capacity than ever before to flout the rule of law and monitor private communications at their discretion,” to quote the report.
At the most innocuous level, spyware is designed to covertly monitor your every keystroke and click to create a consumer profile or buyer persona that digital advertisers compete for online. At worst, it can enable cybercriminals to steal your personal information or conduct other malicious activity.
While many of us are okay with cookies and cache, choosing convenience over privacy, how would we feel if this wealth of information fell into the wrong hands, leading to digital theft or blackmail? And how does web tracking, which analyzes our online behavior, factor into real estate?
Ownership and Data Privacy in Real Estate Photography
If you have a social media, email, or online bank account, your personal data is being sold to third-party companies.
In real estate, this happens with listing photos: Once an image is published for the entire world to view, anyone can replicate, alter, repurpose, or just straight-up steal it without the owner’s consent.
Now, imagine a world in which each image and its creator were protected, and where owners were credited, rewarded, or compensated after each download or transfer of their images.
Such is the decentralized, distributed ledger known as the blockchain, and it’s poised to revolutionize how digital assets are bought, sold, or licensed across various industries.
The Promise of Blockchain in Real Estate
Nearly a decade after blockchain took off in 2008, about 59% of consumers still hadn’t heard of it, with 80% of those who had heard unable to explain what it was, according to “Tech in Asia,” a technology news website based in Singapore.
But you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, the most well-known cryptocurrency, which is created, distributed, and accounted for on a blockchain.
What does this have to do with real estate, you might ask? We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s bring everyone up to speed.
The Blockchain Explained
Imagine a ledger like the one that banks handed out in the old days to keep track of your deposits and withdrawals, but this one is open and accessible to anyone, anywhere.
The ledger contains every transaction that has ever occurred and anyone can make entries into it. The better an entry is (ie., it is complete, unique, has proof of ownership), the higher its value.
This is how blockchain technology works. It’s decentralized and distributed, with entries that are permanent, immutable, and secure.
In other words, everyone has a straightforward copy of the same ledger that can’t be altered, reversed, or removed, and everyone can see what has been entered into it, providing more transparency.
Let’s look at how this affects data privacy in real estate.
How Does Blockchain Affect Data Privacy in Real Estate Photography?
Blockchain has so far been used mainly to protect digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, but its potential reaches far beyond the realm of finance.
For instance, blockchain technology is also being used to secure digital assets that link individual owners with their works of art, including music, videos, and even product designs. These “NFTs” (non-fungible tokens), or, simply put, digital ownership of one-of-a-kind assets, are stored on the blockchain, protecting creators from the unauthorized reproduction, sale, and/or alteration of their work.
When it comes to real estate photography, blockchain’s security and protection far exceed anything a stock image gallery can offer.
Here’s why: When real estate photographers publish (or “mint”) their images on the blockchain, the photos are permanently linked to them as the original creators.
This means that if a real estate agent uploads any photos for a new listing that have been minted on the blockchain, there’s no question as to who owns the photos and has the legal rights to use them.
This ability to protect digital property while also rewarding content creators solves a big problem for many real estate agents and photographers. There is no longer a dispute about who owns the photos, with blockchain technology even protecting digital content in cases where agents claim ownership of images in their marketing materials.
How to Put Your Images on the Blockchain
The process of minting a real estate photo on the blockchain isn’t costly or time-consuming. On the contrary, it’s pretty simple, and some marketplaces can handle all of it for you.
But the right marketplace will offer images that have already been minted on the blockchain for sale, plus a custom option that will allow users to order the photoshoot of their dreams, which can then be minted on the blockchain.
At HomeJab, our marketplace blends the best real estate photographers and blockchain technology into one integrated system, enabling content creators to mint their work and enjoy the benefits of increased protection and compensation.
Meanwhile, real estate agents and other customers who use our platform can rest easy knowing where each image comes from, with the highest protection available on the internet, all thanks to blockchain.