We live our lives on the internet. That's because when Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, he made it easy for everyone to use it and share information. Fast forward 28-years, and your personal information is controlled largely by major companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Enough already. Berners-Lee wants to put our data back in our hands.
Berners-Lee wants to do this with a new open-source project: Solid. He's not the first. People are sick of having their personal data locked in the hands of giant corporations. Adding insult to injury, as one privacy-scandal and security-hole follows another--Apple, Facebook, and Google in just the last few weeks--it's clear you can't trust them to protect your data.
What to do? Well, with a lot of work you can protect your data. But, those methods leave the fundamental problem of your data resting in untrustworthy third-party hands. Berners-Lee who "was devastated" by recent privacy abuses, decided enough was enough.
I've always believed the web is for everyone. That's why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. 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.
Today, I believe we've reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible -- and necessary.
Solid is meant to change "the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we've all discovered, this hasn't been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance -- by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way."
Solid isn't a radical new program. Instead, "Solid is a set of modular specifications, which build on, and extend the founding technology of the world wide web (HTTP, REST, HTML). They are 100% backwards compatible with the existing web. Each spec, taken in isolation, provides extra features to an existing system. However, when used in combination, they enable exciting new possibilities for web sites and applications."
Say hello to the early days of web browsers (gallery)
The Solid specification main enhancement is that with it the web becomes a collaborative read-write space, passing control from internet service owners, to users. With it you can write, read, and control access to your personal data or anything you post to the web . Privacy is managed using the web access control list specification.
Web access control list is a decentralized system, which enables users and groups access to resources where users and groups are identified by HTTP URIs. Users are identified by WebIDs. User groups are identified by the URI of a class of users. With this, a person hosted by any site can be a member of a group hosted by any other site.
Berners-Lee said Solid is "guided by the principle of "personal empowerment through data" which we believe is fundamental to the success of the next era of the web. We believe data should empower each of us." With this, "you will have far more personal agency over data -- you decide which apps can access it."
While you can join Solid now, there's little you can do with it... yet.
Today, Solid is a framework. Tomorrow, Berners-Lee believes it "will empower individuals, developers and businesses with entirely new ways to conceive, build and find innovative, trusted and beneficial applications and services."
This isn't just idealistic open-source project, which hopes to change the internet. John Bruce, former CEO of Resilient Systems is now the CEO of Inrupt, the company backing Solid, blogged, "Solid as an open-source project had been facing the normal challenges: Vying for attention and lacking the necessary resources to realize its true potential. The solution was to establish a company that could bring resources, process and appropriate skills to make the promise of Solid a reality." It's goal is to make Solid part of the very "fabric of the web"
Berners-Lee transformed the world once. Perhaps he will again.
- 25 Years: How the Web began
- Google proposes data privacy framework ahead of US Senate hearing
- Remove yourself from people search sites and erase your online presence