If you want to gain control of your personal data from companies, governments, hospitals, and other organizations, a startup called Inrupt could be an ally. Company idea: store your personal information separately and share only what’s needed with the services while you’re accessing them.
Inrupt calls these collections of data “groups”, and they can be accessed using the company’s open source data storage technology called Solid. For example, you can store fitness data, then share it when your doctor’s Solid app requests access. Or you can host your photos in a group, pay a Solid application provider to choose your best photos, then pay a different amount to print them.
One big name behind Inrupt is Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the world wide web. Berners-Lee, who holds the position of chief technology officer, co-founded the company with CEO John Bruce. Inrupt has been testing his services with the BBC, the NatWest Bank and the National Health Service in the UK, and with the Flanders government in recent months. On Monday, the company created Enterprise Solid Server, the service support infrastructure, available to any interested customer.
“The technology that we are releasing today is a very essential component“Berners-Lee said in a statement.” Ultimately, this new platform of trust and collaboration will lead to completely new business models that truly benefit users. “
Broad adoption of Inrupt – if successful – could mark a turning point for the internet, prompting the transition away from your data collection apps and services to serve personalized ads. The flip side of it is that many of the services currently used for free, like web-based email, can cost customers a fee.
Inrupt’s launch comes as privacy has become a bigger concern in the tech industry, which has been hit by famous scandals like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica. Laws including the General European Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act can tilt the privacy balance – and Disruption of business success.
The challenges facing Solid and Inrupt include getting a critical mass of people, businesses and other organizations to embrace it; making it easy enough to use whose benefits bring more than complexity; and make sure it doesn’t become a new channel for abuse and hacking. To help address this last concern, Inrupt hired Bruce Schneier, a renowned computer security expert, as director of security architecture.