Tim Berners-Lee’s new startup is aiming to protect your data
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, has a problem with how companies use our personal data. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the prevalence of hackers regularly acquiring personal information, there’s a real possibility that information you put online could easily find itself in strangers’ hands.
To combat that, Berners-Lee hopes his new startup Inrupt can protect user data. The company’s first project, Solid, is an open-source platform that safely stores user data, letting apps and sites use it only when the user authorises it.
Solid, a portmanteau of social linked data, is a project hosted by the MIT and is slated toallow you to corral personal data, like photos, music, contacts and calendar events.
User data would be stored on the Solid personal online data store (or POD store), a secure online server space intended to be inaccessible or hackable. This data would only be available to specific Solid apps, which can access the data you choose –meaning apps wouldn’t be able to sell your data on or use data you’ve provided to a different app.
Since POD store data can only be shared with apps Solid has created or licensed you won’t be able to use the likes of Facebook, Gmail or Spotify with it. Instead, Solid will create its own social media platform, email service and music streaming service at some point in the future.
Solid is in its early stages and currently you can only create a rather basic account. Solid’s website contains a list of upcoming updates (albeit ones with deadlines that have passed), and a list of tasks it’s seeking volunteer aid with.
Solid certainly seems to have a long way to go before it becomes the data-privacy capital of the internet, especially as other companies make money by selling user data, so Solid will have to find revenue elsewhere. However it’s worth celebrating that Solid respects users enough to create a safe place for their data.