Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, has began to publicise a new initiative to help internet users control their personal data.
In a blog post, he wrote of the internet’s impact: “The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world.
“But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.”
He has spent several years with researchers at MIT working to build ‘Solid’, a platform which allows users to select where their information is stored. “People want apps that help them do what they want and need to do — without spying on them,” he says.
Solid gives users a Personal Online Data store (‘POD’), which works like a secure USB stick for personal information. Apps and friends can then enter this POD with a user’s permission, ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ in the areas they have access to.
This allows different apps to ‘co-operate’, without forcing a user to use one suite of products. After being allocated a task on a workplace app, for example, it could appear on a to-do list.
It also removes the need for vast amounts of (duplicated) user data to exist on different platforms.
Berners-Lee feels that the new technology will need a significant push before it is widely adopted, and has created the company ‘inrupt’ to help it on its way.
TechCrunch notes that uptake may be swift in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with online platforms facing increasing scrutiny regarding their data handling.
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