back to article World Wide Web's Sir Tim swells his let's-remake-the-internet startup with Bruce Schneier, fellow tech experts

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has staffed up his startup, dubbed Inrupt, with a handful of notable hires that make its internet salvation mission a bit more plausible. On Friday, he announced the hiring of cryptography legend Bruce Schneier as chief of security architecture, computer science lecturer …

  1. SW10
    Stop

    For our service to work

    You need to give access to all data in your pod

    [ OK ] [ Cancel ]

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: For our service to work

      I learned yesterday that Verifiable Credentials are supposed to get round that, by very detailed compartmentalisation. Hopefully that's what they plan to use.

      https://www.w3.org/TR/vc-data-model/

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: For our service to work

        Sounds too complicated for the average Joe. How do you guard against "Shut Up and Take My Data!"?

  2. ashdav

    If this means I can access the internet without all the American suspects tracking what I do Then Hell Yeah.

    I do you use adblockers etc but shit still gets through.

    1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Try Pi Hole...it helps.

      1. The BigYin

        Or just load the AdBlock addon into OpenWRT.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          It either breaks too much or doesn't stop enough. The medium is becoming UNhappy.

  3. vogon00

    Well, Well, Well...

    ....isn't this an interesting idea?

    OK, Sir Tim originally invented the 'web' bit of the inter-tubes way back when. Were I in his shoes, I would be rather disappointed in what humanity has done with it.

    It has turned from a brilliant idea to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and discussion etc. into the festering cesspool of monetisation and self-aggrandizement that we have today. We have squandered it's potential and reduced it to merely another marketing tool.....why am I not surprised.

    If his latest stated aims are achieved (Where *you* control what you publish where, rather than accepting someone else's controls and policies) it will go a long way to redressing the balance....provided we don't make the same mistakes again. That's unlikely as someone, somewhere will wrest control from where it should be for their own benefit, dressed up as in our interest.

    Optimistically cynical as ever,

    Vogon00

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Well, Well, Well...

      "Were I in his shoes, I would be rather disappointed in what humanity has done with it."

      He is in his shoes and he's made no secret of being disappointed.

      1. EricM

        Re: Well, Well, Well...

        Yeah,

        and based on the fact humanity came up with crap ideas how to use flintstone, fire, the wheel and basically every invention since then this was quite to be expected ...

        _Every_ invention that works will also be used for negative goals.

        And his invention works perfectly :-)

  4. HildyJ Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Nice idea, not a chance

    Even if they get past the two biggest technical issues - how do you identify a person/user and who pays for this - they will still have the majority of users who will willingly offer their data to Google or Amazon or Facebook to get access to their aps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice idea, not a chance

      I'd say it had a zero chance of being around in 5 years, but it's probably more like a negative number.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nice idea, not a chance

      "...users who will willingly offer their data to Google or Amazon or Facebook to get access to their aps."

      Fine, if that's what people want to do with their data, let them.

      But, it would be a nice idea if there was a way for those of us unhappy with the taking ways of the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon to be able to shield our data and gain some control of our online personas.

      As the old saying goes "Give me the tools and I will finish the job."

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Nice idea, not a chance

        those of us unhappy with the taking ways...

        ... are unfortunately a small minority. Social networks, are, well, networks - they only work if they're connected. Since most people have no problem with having their votes influenced by the right wing, rich and Russians as long as a free service tells them they're popular with their friends, there's no incentive for Facebook et al to build the interfaces that would allow limited and un-monetizable data to integrate into their networks thereby devaluing them.

        I'm pretty sure TBL knows this is a non-starter and is merely hoping that airing the concepts might at least undermine any potential argument that social media companies may make to regulators to the effect that privacy is intrinsically, technically impossible.

        1. Carpet Deal 'em

          Re: Nice idea, not a chance

          Decentralization could work with social networks: give everybody a standardized API and a dozen Facebook clones could talk to each other as if everybody was on the same site. You could try to mandate Facebook participate in such a scheme, but they'd probably treat it the way the cable companies treat CableCARD: something that meets the minimum legal requirements and restrict every possible feature to the company's boxes.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Nice idea, not a chance

            "Decentralization could work with social networks: give everybody a standardized API and a dozen Facebook clones could talk to each other as if everybody was on the same site."

            What you describe is anathema to the true goal of social networks: control of the data. The goal is a captive market, not a federation. It's not worth it unless there's a winner.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Nice idea, not a chance

        The problem behind the problem is that no man is an island. Things people do can affect other people without their knowledge. Thus my constant dread that Stupid is going to take the rest of us with them. They don't realize they're doing it, but their mere association with the rest of us is enough.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Nice idea, not a chance

          Indeed, just look at how vaccine denial is killing babies with measles who should be protected by herd immunity. If you deny your kids vaccines you not only endanger them you endanger those who are too young to be vaccinated or who cannot be vaccinated for other reasons.

          I cannot have flu vaccines because I had a nasty, throat closing, allergic reaction to my last one back in the noughties. If more people had a flu vaccine each winter my chances of being laid low by one as I was recently would decrease. But I'm not holding my breath.

          If there was an Ebola level of fatality pandemic with a vaccine we would still be fucked because of the vaccine deniers.

          Swap vaccine for almost anything and the stupid wins.

        2. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: Nice idea, not a chance

          Things people do can affect other people without their knowledge. Thus my constant dread that Stupid is going to take the rest of us with them. They don't realize they're doing it, but their mere association with the rest of us is enough.

          Have an upvvote.

          Case in point, WhatsApp. They have my phone number without my consent because people who have my phone number in their phone use WhatsApp and it hoovers all contacts up.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Nice idea, not a chance

            Worse, data is something that cannot really be contained. It's less like a sheep and more like a novel crop. Someone determined enough can find a way to take the data and COPY it (similar to how, in the latter case, one can smuggle seeds). The moment someone ELSE has access to your data, you've lost control of it, and there's no way to get it back...EVER.

  5. karlkarl Silver badge

    Just make the new internet text only and it will basically take care of itself.

    It was very hard to advertise effectively on Gopher. This is certainly the way forward now that humanity has proven that it cannot play responsibly.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      It's not the ads that are the problem. It's the 3rd (and 1st) parties playing fast and loose with peoples personal data.

      Most of which is already in text format.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't know about that. Remember Bulletin Boards? You can advertise quite well in plain text, it seems...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And I remember ASCII pr0n even in the 70's.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's not clear what that means in practical terms because people currently make privacy decisions that tend to prioritize access and free services over data protection"

    I'm not sure I would describe blindly hitting an 'accept' button as a decision. A choice between handing over all your data and a no entry sign isn't actually a choice.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      You never heard of Lord Hobson's Choice, aka "Take It or Leave It"?

  7. eldakka Silver badge
    Holmes

    Inrupt promises a pro-privacy solution to managing, protecting personal data
    There is an obvious solution to this problem.

    If you didn't collect personal data, then there'd be no need to manage or protect it.

    QED.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Obvious conundrum to your solution. If someone wants something badly enough, it'll become available: by hook or crook. Prohibition proved that, and the PID genie escaped the bottle long ago.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Agreed, modern houses with secure double glazing and multipoint locking doors are hard to burgle unless someone leaves a window open or door unlocked. UNLESS you are motivated enough to become VERY good at lockpicking since the locks are pickable, by the very good and quickly enough not to be rumbled by the very, very good.

        That is why home invasion is becoming more common, you get in by knocking on the door and forcing your way in when it is opened having scoped the little old lady first.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds promising. Will be interesting to learn more. It'll also be interesting to know how the company intends to deal with spooks/plod and vice versa.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Or the ol' "Shut Up and Take My Data!"...

  9. iLurker

    Won’t last long - users will be faced with a choice - hand over blanket access to your data or you have no access to whatever it is you’re after.

    We know who wins that argument, it’s pretty common already.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Even with the GDPR in effect, which is claimed to specifically prohibit such a thing if you wish to do business with Europeans?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this another NSA operation?

    Seriously, is it? It's not April 1.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Is this another NSA operation?

      No, it isn't.

      The NSA already has all that stuff.

  11. Bernard Peek

    There are two ways it could work

    All of the directors have been around the block a few times. They know that the Internet is largely funded by advertisers.

    The threat of users moving en masse to Inrupt might be enough to bring the ad industry to heel. They might "voluntarily" agree to restrictions on how they collect and use data. Advertisers will have to be satisfied with extracting less value from data they collect. Advertisers will complain but live with it as long as nobody else can can do better.

    Alternatively Inrupt could set up a micropayment system that replaces web-sites' income streams. That could make Inrupt the world's biggest bank. Advertisers will find other ways to reach your eyeballs.

  12. SVV

    You authorize granular access to that pod to whoever you want

    It had to happen sooner or later : Access Control Lists for the web. Unfortunately in reality, managing these and assigning user permissions individually for even small numbers of resources has always been and will always be a time consuming headache. Adding users to groups or roles and granting permissions that way as well can make it even more painful when you haven't planned and structured your resources well. Basically, would you want to be a full time Active Directory administraor over everything you ever publish on the web?

    1. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: You authorize granular access to that pod to whoever you want

      I would be happy deniing acces to my data to anyone by default. ONly if I am haapy would i allow any access

  13. Adair Silver badge

    But where are...

    Sylvester Stallone, Claude Van Damme, Arnold Swarzenegger, Bruce Lee, The 'A' Team - not forgetting Grace Hopper and Margaret H. Hamilton - and all the others who actually know how to do things right?

    Being dead is no excuse, we need the best!

  14. werdsmith Silver badge

    A step in the right direction. I feel I need to support it.

    Sign up now and avoid the possibility that if you need it later you will run into "that user name is already taken, please try a different name: suggestion - "mynamex345075"

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Sign up now and avoid the possibility that if you need it later you will run into "that user name is already taken, please try a different name: suggestion - "mynamex345075"

      More like https://youtu.be/c4kxn9ualhk?t=515

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read complete detail about blog.

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2020/02/24/solid_nrupt_plans/

  16. Jason B

    "Your data lives in a pod that is controlled by you."

    I wonder if this is the final terminology that will be settled on. I find the actual word and the way it's used in sentences like this to be a little creepy.

    Sure, the word has many normal meanings. And hearing "coffee pods" isn't that unusual. But in this context, where "data pods" (by extension) makes me think of science fiction, all I can picture is Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (An icon of Donald Sutherland wasn't available.)

  17. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Pod = Honeypot Everything can be hacked. That is all I need to know.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021