Announced through a Saturday blog, Solid is described as an "open source project to restore the power and ability of individuals on the web." Solid has been developed by Berners-Lee and people at MIT, and is actually a single management location for someone's data, one that offers the possibility to dictate how and where the data is stored, which people and organizations have access to specific elements, and how it is shared.
The switch to Solid was prompted by the trend for companies to collect as much data as possible about their users, followed by the exploitation of the data and the use of it to sell products and services to users. The wholesale acquisition and data mining was a cause for concern for privacy activists, who have previously warned about possible misuse of the data.
The most prominent case of abuse in recent times was the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the data from Facebook users were obtained by the political analysis agency and used by political parties to influence events, allegedly including the US presidential election of 2016.
"Solid is changing the current model in which users must pass on personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value," writes Berners-Lee. "As we have all discovered, this was not in our interest, but how we are evolving the web to restore balance – by giving everyone complete control over data, personally or not, in a revolutionary way."
For end users, their data is stored in one or more Solid personal online data stores, or PODs, that can be stored at the location of a user's choice, including online storage services or a home server. The data can be transferred between locations at any time without interrupting the service.
The user can store virtually any desired data in the POD, including photos, videos & # 39; s and fitness tracker data. The data can then be shared with apps and services that the user chooses, as well as with other people.
Because the data is also stored under the user's control in a POD, and not by other companies, it is not necessary to synchronize data if it is shared with multiple apps because the same data source is used everywhere.
The POD is also touted as an authentication method, along the lines of logging in with a Facebook account on the website of another service. The ownership of a POD will apparently provide third parties with sufficient evidence that the user is who he says he is.
Berners-Lee takes leave of his role at MIT to work on a start-up connected with Solid. Inrupt is a startup that wants to offer the infrastructure for the open-source Solid to function, and helps with the use of Solid, and also offers users Solid PODs.
As part of this work, Berners-Lee travels around the world for the coming months, informing developers of both Solid and Inrupt, reports Fast business. He will also spend time this autumn recruiting venture capital to grow the team, although it is unclear how successful this will be, as the project wants to oppose the data collection activities of large technology companies such as Facebook and Google.
It is also unclear to what extent this would affect Apple, because its own data policy turns away from the practices of other tech giants, because minimal data is uploaded to its servers and processing is performed as far as possible at the end of the user. A frequently heard chorus from Apple is & # 39; The customer is not our product & # 39 ;, because the company does not collect and then uses data for advertising purposes, but strives for a more transparent approach.