Web creator Tim Berners-Lee big tech companies plan so that these do not have as much power over your personal data: the creator of the World Wide Web, the system of documents linked together by hypertext that is a fundamental part of what we know today as the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, has taken on the mission of redesigning his own invention.
This Monday Inrupt, the company co-founded by the" father of the web", announced that it had taken another step to realize its ambition to achieve a more decentralized internet.
Inrupt announced the launch of its first enterprise version of its solid data platform, which are already using some large clients such as the UK Health Service (NHS), the British National Westminster Bank (NatWest), the BBC or the Government of Flanders (Belgium).
In a blog post, Berners-Lee said that this announcement was "a big step", since under his view Solid will mean "a fundamental change that will not only regain users' confidence in their data, but will help them improve their lives."
What is Solid?
In 2018, Berners-Lee announced that he intended to create a more just and decentralized internet with an open source project called Solid. The goal of this initiative is to make mass data easier for people to transfer, so that everyone has more control over how it moves on the internet.
The launch of Solid coincided with the creation of Inrupt, a company that has grown to 29 developers and is working with both paid providers and the open source developer community, as its CEO, John Bruce, explained.
For Berners-Lee the current situation causes users 'personal data to be fragmented in the "silos" of social networks, before which individuals have very little power.
Web creator Tim Berners-Lee big tech companies plan
"What they're doing isn't really the web, they're not connecting people as equals," he explains to Business Insider.
These " silos "are the key to the exploitation of personal data, according to the creator of the internet, which provokes"a growing public skepticism, truly reasonable, about how personal data is being used".
Berners-Lee hopes that Inrupt can help users whose data is trapped by the big tech companies, who sometimes misuse it.
Group personal data so that each person can use them
"Every once in a while a large social network drops a lot of private data (...) We have assumed in the past that we have to use these social networks because the world works that way, but that idea is being challenged on several fronts," Berners-Lee says.
The goal of Solid is not to group people's personal data so that large platforms can not use them, but to make it easier for each user to control where their data is used, through custom blocks called pods.
"It's not just about privacy, it's about access. A year ago many people who write in the economic Press about privacy imagined that the desire of the user is to group their data (...) But when they get to Solid what really gives them power is that they have the ability to use them", points out the creator of the web.
In this way, the key to Solid is the system architecture that allows your customers to join all the data they already have in a better way.
Inrupt CEO John Bruce explains that in the case of the British health system, Solid allows to collect a patient's health data in a more accessible way.
"We take the different data sources and store them in your pod, your storage area. So when you go to see your doctor, you can take all your data with you and tell him, 'this is all you have, a holistic view of my health information so you can make a better diagnosis,'" notes Bruce Business Insider.
Although these agreements with British health and other organizations are still large-scale, the goal is to fine-tune the application to launch larger projects.
"We don't think much about how to create a highly scalable business. It's more about how we're going to do it to deliver on the promise by making these use cases work and successful. Then we will see how to do the rest", concludes the CEO of Inrupt.
Web creator Tim Berners-Lee big tech companies plan
Internxt, the Spanish cloud that bets on privacy to compete with giants such as Google, Microsoft or Apple: "those companies have exceeded the limits"
Store files in the cloud has never been as cheap as now, but the free services offered by the internet giants like Google, Microsoft or Apple have a hidden payment in the form of user data for profiling, advertising, the Spanish startup Internxt want to highlight to promote your own service: a cloud storage encrypted and distributed, in which only the user knows the content of the files included in it.
"If you upload something to Google Drive, you are uploading it to an advertising giant that tries to gather information about you (...) Drive for them is not an end, but a means", assures Business Insider Spain Fran Villalba, founder of this digital storage company whose objective is to create"a cloud that respects the user".
"I'm a big fan of technology and data, but the internet is controlled by four companies that have all the information and have crossed the line. We want to recover this, that the necessary data is collected, but if I upload my files or photos to Google, I do not like that Google knows them", adds Villalba, who is 23 years old.
Internxt today offers a free 2 gigabyte cloud storage space (Drive) with paid extensions of 20, 200 gigas and up to 2 terabytes of capacity. On their website they already advertise a file sending platform in the style of WeTransfer that they have named Send, and their goal is to approach Google services with photo storage and email service.
But how to challenge those giants? For this entrepreneur, his great advantage is that being small they can "move fast", but above all he believes that large companies have no incentive to work on the privacy of their users ' data. "It's hard for them to focus on privacy because their business model is advertising. But the issue of privacy and security is growing, and 55% of companies are going to increase their spending on it, according to PwC," says Villalba.
Encrypted and fragmented data to respect privacy
To respect these limits, this startup based in Valencia —is among the accelerated Shuttle, the initiative to support entrepreneurs from the president of Mercadona, Juan Roig— has two peculiarities: the data that is uploaded to your cloud are encrypted from the origin, and the key of decryption is stored in the computer of the user, and the encrypted files are split and uploaded to servers in different parts of the world to ensure that privacy.
"When a file is uploaded it is fragmented and uploaded to different servers, as well as copies of those fragments are uploaded. If I access my files from Valencia, the fragments closest to you are sent. Google and Dropbox send them to you from the United States, this increases energy consumption, which in the cloud sector is very high," explains Villalba.
In your case, your storage is distributed among "hundreds of data centers around the world", to which you rent some of your leftover capacity, another element that helps the security of the information you store. "If they hack a server, what they're going to find is file fragments. This is much safer, " says the founder of this emerging company.
This distributed and fragmented network does not affect the upload or download time of files which, according to Villalba ,is "basically the same" as that of the Giants of the network. From their point of view, the problem that storage alternatives of this type do not succeed is because they are designed in a very technical way. "There are several competitors, but they are difficult to use, have no interface and make it complicated, because they do not think about the user experience," he adds.
The emphasis on privacy in storage leads to the question of what happens if content that may violate laws or copyright, which led to the closure of storage pages as well known years ago as Megaupload. "Their problem is that they could access the files and did not delete those that violated copyright," says Villalba, who explains that by encrypting the files, Internxt can not access them and verify the content, so its responsibility ends there.
"From a business point of view, we are not targeting that user. Megaupload was very made to share movies or series, to do streaming. In Internxt you can not do streaming, it is much more made to store, not to share", assures this entrepreneur.