Founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s start-up company Inrupt, is going to reform the web’s way of working. In order to develop a massively scalable, production-quality technology platform, the company is launching pilot projects in its quest and expanding its operational team.
Sir Tim, who invented the world wide web in 1989 but has become increasingly critical of the way it has been captured by giant corporations, said there had been a “rush of interest” from open source developers, entrepreneurs, tech company executives and government officials to support Inrupt’s mission to decentralize the web and hand power back to users.
But Inrupt now had to focus on the complexities of turning its underlying Solid technology into a scalable platform. He wrote in a blog post that the true value of the web we’re building for the world to be experienced, the vital issues related to privacy, security and trust needs to be addressed by us.
To tackle those challenges, Inrupt has hired a further five leading technologists, including Bruce Schneier, a veteran cryptography expert, as head of security architecture. The company is also working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in the UK to pilot an innovative “early years” app that will digitise children’s healthcare records up to the age of 2.5 years.
Mr. Schneier said he believed in Sir Tim’s vision of creating a new distributed data ownership model to challenge the “digital feudalism” of the big tech companies. He said in a telephone interview that the problem is that our data is not under our control. It is on computers owned by lots of other people. And we have no control over it and we do not have access to it in ways that are useful to us.
Mr. Schneier said it would be an immense challenge to create workable authentication and permission processes to enable Solid to work at scale, but he was convinced it was achievable. It is ‘going to the moon’ hard rather than ‘faster than light travels’ hard, he said.
He further added that it is easy if some big party is in control. It has this massive power that decrees this and this is allowed. But if you want to distribute that authority so that users are in control, it is a lot harder.
Inrupt raised a “significant” sum of money in year 2019, in excess of USD 10M, to fund the company’s development from interested institutions, individuals and tech companies. Inrupt’s co-founder and chief executive John Bruce, said that the including the one project in Manchester, the company was working on several pilot projects.