Posted on October 3, 2018 by staff

Tim Berners-Lee launches start-up to disrupt the web


The creator of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee has launched a new start-up called Inrupt which will help create a decentralised internet where corporations no longer control and own user data.

Speaking in a blog post, Berners-Lee explained that the web has become a place where users hand over data to internet giants for products and services.

To combat this he has been working on an open source platform called Solid with researchers at MIT, which will let people choose where to store their data and who has access to it.

This means that instead of storing data in silos – so Facebook has some of your data, Twitter has some, Microsoft has some – users control their data in one place and can decide which apps have a window into it.

“I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it,” said Berners-Lee, who has been openly critical of tech giants owning user data.

“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.”

Building on existing web protocols Solid users can keep their own data on the cloud service, server or another platform in personal online data stores or ‘pods’, rather than having it stored on centralised servers. The team encourages people to think of these pods as like their own private website.

“When you post comments or videos online, your friends can view them with whatever app they like, such as an album viewer or a social feed,” says the website. “It’s your data, that can be shaped in any way or form. You can have as many pods as you like, and they live on Solid-enabled web servers.”

Thanks to the open source nature of Solid, personal data can be instantly moved between applications and locations while also giving more control and privacy.

Inrupt is the first commercial venture to come out of solid and Berners-Lee partnered with John Bruce to create the company.

Bruce was CEO at a cyber security company Resilient, which was acquired by IBM in 2016 and at Quickcomm, which was acquired by Vodafone

“Inrupt will be the infrastructure allowing Solid to flourish. Its mission is to provide commercial energy and an ecosystem to help protect the integrity and quality of the new web built on Solid,” said Berners-Lee.

“Inrupt’s success is totally aligned to Solid’s success.”

Developers are already able to get to work on their own decentralised apps with tools through the Inrupt site.