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The inventor of the World Wide Web has unveiled a plan for a new secure internet

By mongeese · 34 replies
Sep 30, 2018
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  1. For several years Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his team at MIT have been developing a decentralized platform designed to give every internet user full control over their data: Solid (Social Linked Data). This week he is revealing the first start-up to take advantage of the Solid platform, called Inrupt. Berners-Lee and his partner John Bruce will lead a small team of inspired developers to take the power back from the internet giants.

    “The intent is world domination. We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”

    Berners-Lee says that Facebook’s continuous failure to protect its users is something that drives him: “We have to do it now. It’s a historical moment.”

    I think we can all agree a change is sorely needed; only two days ago it was revealed that 50 million Facebook accounts may have been compromised. Berners-Lee says that Facebook’s continuous failure to protect its users is something that drives him: “We have to do it now. It’s a historical moment.”

    Solid works through something called a Solid POD, a Personal Online Data storage system. A POD is simply a file that contains all your data: videos, images, calendar, address, preferences, friend lists – everything from where you work to the name of your Labrador. The Solid development team is working on software that creates and manages a POD, and once it is fully complete (soon, we’re told) companies and individuals will be able to create and use their own POD servers. What this means is that you can store your own POD on an internet-connected device or simply pay a company to store it for you.

    Any and all sites or apps that want access to information about you simply ask your POD for it – depending on your choices, it will say yes or no. For example, a social media platform may ask your POD for your name, age, phone number and any images you might want to share. But the social media platform doesn’t control the information: by disabling the platform’s access to your POD the information is removed.

    This is where Inrupt enters the fray: it allows you to create a POD on Inrupt’s servers, and it will create apps and assist other companies to create apps using Solid. Technically, you can create a POD right now on their website and play around with calendar and note-taking apps, but, to be frank, the interface is dreadful and nowhere near ready for use. Inrupt is currently funded by Glasswing Ventures, who specialize in AI and other technology start-ups, but Inrupt is pursuing further funding.

    The Solid platform is a good idea with good goals. Solid PODs are a good and technologically feasible execution of that idea. But will it get its feet off the ground?

    We can look at this in two ways. The first is the perspective of an up-and-coming platform. It’s brilliant; the next big thing. Like pretty much all platforms, ad-revenue is an important aspect. The platform’s creators are faced with a choice: use PODs to protect users’ data and make less money, or trust that they can protect users’ data themselves and make more money. The creators will likely have good intentions (think WhatsApp or Telegram) but it is hard to find investors who'll agree to make less money.

    The second perspective is of an established platform. Take YouTube as an example. It would be extremely difficult for them to switch over to PODs even if they wanted to: shareholders would not be impressed by suddenly switching over to a less profitable business model (e.g. non-targeted ads). Particularly when they can easily just continue with their current business model.

    The bottom line is, the Solid platform is a brilliant idea but because it doesn’t make economic sense, it’s hard to envisage widespread adoption. Unless Inrupt can somehow make PODs profitable for companies to adopt, or create their own platforms to rival Google and Facebook, our data will remain in the hands of the corporate giants.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46


    If crowd-funding can compensate every crazie with a keyboard, let;s start crowd funding to put this worthwhile new paradigm over the top. A small fee for downloading the app once launched and we should be good to go.
  3. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,510   +1,511

    Lol... this is attempting to take on Google and Facebook.... crowdfunding MIGHT raise a few million - and that’s being optimistic... you’d need BILLIONS to have a chance...
    TheDreams likes this.
  4. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    This is such a fundamental right (security of data) that you might be quite surprised at the support out there. You might EVEN get Facebook and its ilk to cave in to decency, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.
    At least we'd know where the IT Bigs stand on privacy issues if they fight this. Pretty simple, actually.

    Can I put you down for $100?
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  5. fastvince

    fastvince TS Enthusiast Posts: 75   +21

    This will be good until some disgruntled employee steals everyone's POD. hahahahahahhah
  6. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 142   +96

    Except that Tim Berners-Lee is CIA. Misdirection. Too conveniently timed. They are building controlled opposition. New lipstick. Same pig. There can be no 'real freedom' until the Patriot Act is rescinded, and the CIA & NSA do not require backdoors to encryption keys...using the Federal Bridge PKI system to track everything, and examine the block-chain meta-data at will. We all know that they have 'tricked' the FISA warrant system, so there is no real pretense of accountability. This is why the FBI won't release the FISA court documents to congress or the president...both of which are unconstitutional positions to take. Justice is claiming in fact that they are a 'defacto' fourth branch of government...making them the 'elite' soviet style controllers. They also control the Internet, social media, satellites, military, etc--communications. They know everything about anyone they choose to inspect.
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  7. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 732   +281

    This is the reason why Kavanaugh shouldn't be confirmed. The fight over him about sexual assault isn't real. Just a partisan show. Kavanaugh helped write the Patriot Act. It hasn't come up as far as I know in the hearings. Meaning, neither side cares about our privacy or the 4th Amendment.
  8. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 142   +96

    IMO The patriot act should have never been needed and should be terminated.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  9. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,498   +514

    People click yes to anything when they want an app.
  10. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,689   +435

  11. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    The POD will be on YOUR computer under YOUR control. They'll have to go some to get MY stuff out of MY pants pocket!
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  12. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    Fools will: smart folks just want a fighting chance.
    Rayzor likes this.
  13. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    Lots of luck getting the alphabet agencies to disgorge that mouthful.
  14. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    This thing could work.
  15. Morris Minor

    Morris Minor TS Booster Posts: 91   +39

    We need internet 2.0. I've had enough of massive corporations pushing politics and ideologies where it don't belong. Also the control the governments have, from the uk banning porn at the end of the year to the eu's link tax and end of fair use.
  16. I think the pod idea is interesting in theory, but what will happen is it will be mandatory to store your pod on company servers anyways. And then those companies will sell data from your pod for the highest bidder.
  17. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    So uh

    Once they request data from this "POD"

    How do you keep them from keeping that data locally on their servers?
  18. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,266   +4,934

    That is my question. I fail to see how this will change anything. They will still be able to collect information from people willing to give it away in essays/whatever. And they will still be able to store it for themselves, essentially bypassing your pod.
  19. fastvince

    fastvince TS Enthusiast Posts: 75   +21

    No it wont. The article states 'it allows you to create a POD on Inrupt’s servers'.
    This is perfect example of people not knowing where their data is actually stored.
    Wizwill and JaredTheDragon like this.
  20. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 566   +374

    Really sad that you nailed the Langley angle in your first comment, then hedged all the way back to Virginia yourself in this comment.
  21. Anton Skryaga

    Anton Skryaga TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +17

    1. The major part of any really big platform (Facebook, YouTube) is ability to deliver content with maximum efficiency. Caching servers, distributed systems - there is tons of work of developers/administrators.
    2. What prevent any party with permission to access your information make a copy of all available data?
  22. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 754   +372

    Not mine. I keep it in my garage and travel occasionally to my spaceship which I hide on earth orbit.
  23. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Maniac Posts: 245   +157

    Not according to the Constitution. No such right exists.
  24. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +46

    The Constitution says"Secure in their papers and persons".
    Reachable likes this.
  25. Stiqy

    Stiqy TS Enthusiast Posts: 51   +45

    It's a power struggle early on. On one hand millions of POD users could basically say "I won't sign up for your service unless you do so through my POD" at the same time, giants like Youtube or facebook will say... "we don't accept POD accounts (or they are very crippled); if you want access to what we have, then you do it on our terms."

    But this is good, because then it creates new competitors at the margins. Vimeo may say "we accept your POD accounts, and are willing to monetize differently." along with thousands of other sites doing the same. Eventually POD may become the standard as people realize they value control of their data more than they do YouTube, and that there are alternatives. Ideally everyone realizes POD is just how you are going to have to get customers... and even the giants capitulate to it. Or perhaps there just becomes a two-tiered internet... sites that you will only use with POD, and sites you are willing to risk not using POD on. Or people who use POD and people who don't. Just like there are people who will use PGP encryption and those who do not.... but at least POD will be a real alternative.

    TO pay for POD I see it being bundled in with other cloud services or internet services. I'd gladly pay $10-$50 a year for POD or more, depending how it rolls out. I already pay for Netflix, and amazon prime, and Usenet, and Office 365, and my fiber connection, ...etc. on a yearly or monthly basis. If all it takes is $50 a year to secure all my data and be able to cut people off from it physically and legally when I want to. That's an easy price to pay. And I'd bet there are tens of millions of us. ... in essence POD is a global "pay to remove ads and tracking" fee... that applies to every POD site instead of having to subscribe to hat feature on lots of different sites.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018

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