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posted by martyb on Sunday September 30 2018, @11:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the make-the-web-a-web-again dept.

Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it's game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

"We have to do it now," he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. "It's a historical moment." Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people's data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.

If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

[...] [On] Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations.

How does Solid compare to Tor, I2P, Freenet, IPFS, Diaspora, etc.?

Related: Tim Berners-Lee Proposes an Online Magna Carta
Berners-Lee: World Wide Web is Spy Net
Tim Berners-Lee Just Gave us an Opening to Stop DRM in Web Standards
Sir Tim Berners-Lee Talks about the Web Again
Tim Berners-Lee Approved Web DRM, but W3C Member Organizations Have Two Weeks to Appeal
70+ Internet Luminaries Ring the Alarm on EU Copyright Filtering Proposal
One Year Since the W3C Sold Out the Web with EME


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  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Monday October 01 2018, @03:25AM (5 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Monday October 01 2018, @03:25AM (#742226)

    Or decentralize and conquer? Europe seems to have their data protection done right, but would you like to try your own hand at preventing the US government from forcing you to hand your POD over to them?

    If Google wants to make a few more bucks off my personal data, they can have it. Comparing it to the government building the institutions to collect and store it, preventing me from being able to see what they've collected, and then taxing the populace for the privilege of running those programs and storing the data into perpetuity, what's the better option here?

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @03:40AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @03:40AM (#742229)

    If Google wants to make a few more bucks off my personal data, they can have it. Comparing it to the government building the institutions to collect and store it, preventing me from being able to see what they've collected, and then taxing the populace for the privilege of running those programs and storing the data into perpetuity, what's the better option here?

    That attitude is exactly the problem. Why do you think they are mutually exclusive? In fact they're amalgamated and the former enables the latter. It's not by accident CIA made google. Just look it up if that sounds fantastical to you...

    • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Monday October 01 2018, @11:45AM

      by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday October 01 2018, @11:45AM (#742287)

      I don't believe the CIA 'made' Google. But I'm sure they're joined at the hip now.

      I agree with your point, though. Any form of centralized service will be an easy target for government overreach. A government could go after every NextCloud and Sandstorm and Wordpress and freedombox server hosted in their country, but it would take a lot of effort. Compare that to showing up at Google, Facebook, or Microsoft with a national security letter and a court order for them to keep it quiet.

  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Monday October 01 2018, @07:39PM (2 children)

    by edIII (791) on Monday October 01 2018, @07:39PM (#742434)

    ...but would you like to try your own hand at preventing the US government from forcing you to hand your POD over to them?

    Abso-Fucking-Lutely.

    That's the whole point of Zero Knowledge services and Deniable Encryption. *IF*, and that's kinda a big IF, they figure out how to perform computations on encrypted data, that will further complicate the game because I can outsource large processing jobs without compromising business data. I can't remember the paper, but there was research being performed on this. Until that occurs, I can safely outsource my long term data storage to anywhere that allows me to store encrypted blocks of data. SpiderOak, among others, does exactly that.

    I haven't looked into the PODS, but if the government were forced to come to me, it would bring back Due Process. That's highly likely, because without a court order and a warrant, I'm not even forced to let police/government into my house. If they try some Soviet Red Badge shit, aka National Security Letters, I can still tell them to go to hell. Regardless, they will need to seize running equipment and perform side-channel attacks to gain my encryption keys.

    It's not just me, but everyone else. Which means that were a sufficiently large population using PODS correctly, mass surveillance capabilities would be greatly compromised. Especially, because I assume it comes with End-to-End encryption for communications? What can the government perform mass surveillance on again?

    I like the idea of running my own POD, and that the only way of seeing my data, is to either compromise me directly, or compromise one of my friends or family to see what they see. I don't think any of this rules out the idea of a Deniable POD. One passphrase opens up a Honey POD which shows them what I want to be seen as, and the other passphrase opens up the real POD with real data. If it were granular and in layers like Matryoshka dolls, you could give the government the the low-security data not worth anything.

    TL;DR; Fuck Yes. I will actually fight for me. Google executives making bank will not give a fuck about me in the face of government agents holding guns and National Security Letters.

    what's the better option here?

    A decentralized Darknet with end-to-end encryption, and encrypted containers geographically distributed according to need (like Freenet), with a network foundation that allows for truly anonymous connections to the Darknet.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Monday October 01 2018, @09:01PM (1 child)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Monday October 01 2018, @09:01PM (#742477)

      I haven't looked into the PODS, but if the government were forced to come to me, it would bring back Due Process. That's highly likely, because without a court order and a warrant, I'm not even forced to let police/government into my house. If they try some Soviet Red Badge shit, aka National Security Letters, I can still tell them to go to hell. Regardless, they will need to seize running equipment and perform side-channel attacks to gain my encryption keys.

      Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I'll just leave this here [xkcd.com] for now.

      • (Score: 2) by edIII on Tuesday October 02 2018, @12:39AM

        by edIII (791) on Tuesday October 02 2018, @12:39AM (#742565)

        Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I've seen and heard about the $5 cryptanalysis wrench :)

        Even so, the government will have to use it on me. Really, the point of deniable encryption is that they can't actually prove you didn't hand over the keys.

        If this government did resort to torture and violence on Americans, it would cause a revolution.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.