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Internet Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Launches Startup Focused On Personal Data Security 

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Inrupt, the startup from World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee, has announced the release of an enterprise version of the company’s Enterprise Solid Server.

This will allow large organizations and governments to build applications that give its users full control of their data. A big advantage of Solid technology is that it’s based on web standards, so users can also use it through a web browser.

“The technologies we’re releasing today are a component of a much-needed course correction for the web. Ultimately, this new foundation of trust and cooperation will lead to entirely new business models that actually benefit users as well.”

Tim Berners-Lee 

In September 2018, Berners-Lee announced the launch of Inrupt and hired cybersecurity entrepreneur John Bruce to run the company with the purpose of restoring the “rightful ownership of data back to every web user”

Fast forward to yesterday, November 10, and the company made it’s Enterprise Solid Server available to customers, thus aiming to change the balance of data power and redirect it to the user. “Pods”, as Inrupt calls data collections, can be accessed using Solid, the company’s data-storage technology.

For example, a user could store fitness data and then give permission for it to be shared with a doctor or store photos in a pod, pay a Solid app provider to pick the best shots and then pay another to print them. “We’re releasing the first significant technology as the fruits of our labor, which is an enterprise version of Solid to be deployed at scale by large organizations,” Bruce explained. Also adding: 

“Already, there’s a growing appetite for Solid from potential businesses and partners who recognize that Solid can free them from stifling data silos and create a blank slate for innovation.”

Inrupt Chief Executive John Bruce

Any kind of data can be stored in a Solid pod, including regular files that you might store in a Google Drive or Dropbox folder, but it is the ability to store Linked Data that makes Solid special.

Linked Data gives Solid a common way to describe things and how they relate to each other, in a way that other people and machines can understand. This means that the data stored by Solid is portable and completely interoperable.

Anyone or anything that accesses data in a Solid pod uses a unique ID, authenticated by a decentralized extension of OpenID Connect. Solid’s access control system uses these IDs to determine whether a person or application has access to a resource in a pod.

So far, Inrupt has been testing its service with the BBC, NatWest Bank, and the National Health Service in the UK, as well as with the Flanders government.

It might, however, face some challenges ahead, such as making sure that this new technology does not become a way for abuse and hacking, as well as attracting the necessary number of people, businesses, and organizations.

But if it does succeed, this could mark a turning point for the internet which is full of different apps and services that harvest data in order to show personalized ads to users and where privacy has become a big concern.

The way to get most control of your data is to self-host. Self-hosting means that your data is physically stored on a hard drive you hold at home, and managed by a software you run on your own machine.

This way, you don’t have to entrust any third party with your data. Currently, this option still requires some technical background, and it may not be suitable for everyone yet.

We would like to make self-hosting a more user-friendly option in the future. The great thing about Solid is the flexibility it offers: you can choose to outsource the work for now and pick a provider, and move to self-hosting later on when the tools are ready for you.

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Internet Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Launches Startup Focused On Personal Data Security 
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