World wide web inventor launches privacy platform for enterprises; NHS and BBC sign up

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Tim Berners-Lee
Philippe Desmazes | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — Tim Berners-Lee, the English computer scientist best known as the inventor of the world wide web, has revealed that his latest start-up has launched a privacy platform for enterprises. The U.K.’s National Health Service, the BBC, NatWest Bank and the Flanders Government are among its early adopters.

Inrupt, founded by Berners-Lee and CEO John Bruce in 2018, is aiming to develop technology that gives people control of their data, allowing them to choose where their data is stored and who has access to it.

The start-up announced Monday that it had launched an enterprise version of its Solid platform. Built with scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Solid allows users to create Personal Online Data Stores, or Pods, that they can then share with third party-apps if they wish.

Bruce wrote in a blog that the NHS, for example, was using the platform to allow patients to store their personal medical data on Pods, as well as data from health apps on their phone or other devices.

“It’s going to drive groundbreaking new opportunities that not only restore trust in data but also enhance our lives,” claimed Berners-Lee, who is Inrupt’s chief technology officer.

Berners-Lee invented the world wide web in 1989 but has become increasingly concerned that today’s digital giants are exploiting citizens around the world.

“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,” he wrote in 2018. “Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.”

Berners-Lee added that “Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value.”

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