Tim Berners-Lee Wants to Enable Internet Users to Own Their Personal Data

Tim Berners-Lee Wants to Enable Internet Users to Own Their Personal Data

The creator of the World Wide Web is on a mission to reinvent it and protect personal data from Big Tech.

“I think the public is concerned about privacy – the fact that these platforms have a huge amount of data, and they’re abusing it,” said Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the concept of the web in 1989. CNN on Friday. “But I think what they sometimes miss is the lack of empowerment. You have to come back to a situation where you have autonomy, you have control over all your data.”

As the news paper reported:

Through their startup Inrupt, Berners-Lee and John Bruce, CEO created the “Solid Pod”—or personal online data store. It allows people to keep their data in one central place and control which people and apps can access it, rather than having it stored by apps or sites all over the web.

Users can get a pod from a handful of vendors, hosted by web services like Amazon, or run their own server, if they have the technical know-how. The biggest appeal of self-hosting is control and privacy, says Berners-Lee.

Thirty-three years after inventing the web, Berners-Lee — a longtime advocate of giving people power over their personal data online — believes tech giants currently “control the world and manipulate people by providing information.”

In an interview with Euronews Next at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last month, Berners-Lee said that “some people thought that technical people would then save the world. Now we are in a situation where there are many things wrong with the Web.”

He proposed “a mid-course correction to take it back,” which he called Web3.0.

The earliest iteration of the Internet already existed in the 1970s, but few people knew how to access it. Everything changed when Berners-Lee, then a consultant at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), wrote the code for a web server that allowed browsers to view hypertext documents. CERN put the software for the World Wide Web into the public domain in 1993.

As Euronews Next explain:

We then saw the rise of the first phase of the Internet, Web1.0. Despite being available to everyone, it was a read-only type of web and only the few who knew the ins and outs of coding could publish anything.

This led to the development of Web2.0, which now allows us to interact more with the web and become creators so that we can publish what we like under major platforms such as Google, Facebook, and so on.

But it doesn’t come for free. In return, many of these companies can take our data that can be used for targeted advertising.

Berners-Lee’s “solution to the malfunctions of Web2.0 is the third layer of protocols, which gives a person the ability to log into something with their own personal ID,” the news article reported.

While working in his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berners-Lee came up with the “Solid Pod” idea and launched Inrupt in 2017. The company reportedly raised $30 million in December last year, which Berners-Lee says will help bring the project to fruition.

“Berners-Lee’s platform can be accessed from your browser,” Euro news Following noticed. “But it’s not an app; he calls it a ‘pod’, where you can store your private data and access it very easily. In simpler terms, it can be thought of as your key or a digital ID that be kept safe.”

“He said this is his vision for Web3.0, emphasizing that it is not Web3 that uses the Ethereum blockchain system and promises to be decentralized,” the news outlet added. “Many cryptocurrency and metaverse companies are throwing the word Web3 around as the future of the Internet. But Inrupt disagrees.”

Bruce, the co-founder and CEO of Inrupt, said that “we’re talking Web3.0 which is the real thing… not a marketing gimmick if you will.”

“Tim explained to me one night over dinner that the web as it’s rolling out is not the web we imagined,” Bruce continued. “But we could get it in a place as long as we bumped it the right way.”

According to CNN, Inrupt’s platform is being tested by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and by the government of Flanders, the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium. The latter intends to use pods to provide social services while allowing people to choose how to share their personal data. Berners-Lee said Flanders’ 6.5 million citizens will be able to use the technology by the end of 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *