Big names have signed up to Tim Berners-Lee’s new data ‘pod’ platform

10 Nov 2020

Image: © oatawa/

A start-up co-founded by world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has revealed a new privacy platform for enterprises called Solid Server.

A start-up co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee has claimed that the launch of its first major product will not only restore trust in data but also enhance people’s lives. Inrupt, which was launched in 2017, is now offering its Solid Server platform to enterprises and has already signed up some high-profile clients as part of pilot programmes including the BBC, NatWest Bank, the NHS and the Flanders government.

Writing in a blog post, Inrupt CTO Berners-Lee said that the technologies released as part of Solid Server are a “much-needed course correction for the web” and involve users creating their own ‘pods’ that can act as personal online data stores.

Created in response to incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the tech aims to help users control which entities and apps can use their data. The pods store user data in an interoperable format and give the user a range of permissions they can set on how the data is stored and accessed.

Explaining the reasoning behind the Solid Server concept, Berners-Lee said: “Today, business transformation is hampered by different parts of one’s life being managed by different silos, each of which looks after one vertical slice of life, but where the users and teams can’t get the insight from connecting that data.

“Meanwhile, that data is exploited by the silo in question, leading to increasing, very reasonable, public scepticism about how personal data is being misused. That in turn has led to increasingly complex data regulations.”

‘Restore trust in data’

Giving an example of one of the pilot programmes underway, Inrupt CEO John Bruce said the NHS was allowing patients to create data pods to share medical data with trusted partners such as healthcare providers.

Earlier this year, Inrupt announced that it had expanded its operational team to develop the Solid platform into a “massively scalable, production-quality technology platform”.

Speaking of the potential of the start-up’s work, Berners-Lee added in his blog post this week: “These technologies will fundamentally change how organisations connect people with their data and create value together.

“It’s going to drive groundbreaking new opportunities that not only restore trust in data but also enhance our lives.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic