Tag Archives: sir tim berners-lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Loss of personal data control is an Internet tragedy

The loss of control over personal data sharing is one of the three biggest threats to the world wide web as it currently exists, according to its founder.

Writing an open letter in The Guardian to mark the 28th anniversary of his creation, when he wrote the initial proposal for what became the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said he has become increasingly worried over the past year about three new trends, which he believes  “we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool that serves all of humanity.”

And he is keen to see personal data control put back in the hands of those who create it as a major step to solving the first one.

Regarding this first point, loss of personal control of data, he wrote: “The current business model for many websites offers free content in exchange for personal data. Many of us agree to this – albeit often by accepting long and confusing terms and conditions documents – but fundamentally we do not mind some information being collected in exchange for free services.

But, we’re missing a trick. As our data is then held in proprietary silos, out of sight to us, we lose out on the benefits we could realise if we had direct control over this data and chose when and with whom to share it.

“What’s more, we often do not have any way of feeding back to companies what data we’d rather not share – especially with third parties – the T&Cs are all or nothing.”

This, of course, chimes 100 per cent with the Internet of Me vision (image above), where individuals at the centre of their connected world are in charge of their data and what is shared and with whom.

This ideal world, as well as being at the heart of our personal data and company mission, will also be front and centre of the next version of our app, which will allow both more streams of data to be collected in a private library, and the capability for sharing slices of data with directly with companies for personalised rewards.

Sir Tim goes on to point out that this widespread data collection by companies has other impacts, notably increasingly giving goverments the ability to watch our every move online, which creates a chilling effect on free speech.

Combined with the two other major issues of the web making it too easy to spread misinformation and the need for greater transparency in online political advertising, he writes: “These are complex problems, and the solutions will not be simple. But a few broad paths to progress are already clear.

“We must work together with web companies to strike a balance that puts a fair level of data control back in the hands of people, including the development of new technology such as personal “data pods” if needed and exploring alternative revenue models such as subscriptions and micropayments.”

Ultimately, he said: “It has taken all of us to build the web we have, and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone.”

 

 

 

SocialSafe Aligns With Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Vision For Personal Data

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, has spoken out about the issue of data ownership. An article this week in The Guardian talks of how the father of the world wide web sees a future in which the individual is the one who owns their personal data – not the big companies – and a future in which the individual can use that data for their own benefit.

Well they say great minds think alike, and we’re thrilled that this is precisely what we are actively working towards  here at SocialSafe – individuals aggregating their personal data from a variety of different sources to create a vastly superior data set that is more useful than the sum of its parts.  Today, SocialSafe is a social media organiser enabling users to download and aggregate a complete record of all their interactions in one safe place allowing them to view, search, export, organise it and more.

Looking towards the near future, SocialSafe will extend to all other personal data sets (e.g. shopping, banking, utilities, health, quantified self etc.) and users will be able to permission access others to their data for service, reward or convenience. The user has total control over what they choose to download and where they store it – we as a company never hold any of our users’ data, and they’ll always be able to access it.

We’ve been saying publicly for some time that we feel big data is wrong for the individual, and we’re immensely humbled to have our intentions and vision vindicated by the words of someone so influential in not only the tech industry, but the world as a whole. If you’ve not read Alex Hern’s article, we’d highly recommend that you do so. It may just change the way you think about personal data and who is benefiting from you being you.