Recently, Tim Berners-Lee invented the Solid specification which leads to a personal data web. At Digita, we often get asked what this web is about.
In this first episode of “Solid in Short”, I briefly explain that the key idea of Solid is to let you interconnect your decentralised data.
You probably know that many organisations store data about you.
For example, your government keeps a record of where you live, your supermarket stores your recent orders and your bank stores your account balance.
In other words, your data - and often the same data - is decentrally stored at different parties.
This situation mainly occurs because of two reasons.
First, many of those organisations need to check whether the information they have about you is correct. For instance, the government needs to be sure that you do not lie about where you live and a bank needs to be sure that you are not able to simply change the balance of your bank account if you want to. Otherwise, you can just say that you have multiple millions on your bank account.
Second, you might have contractual obligations towards several companies. In this case, it speaks for itself that those organisations store a copy of that contract - which often contains your personal details.
For example, it is only natural that your insurance provider stores a copy of your car insurance policy that contains your personal information.
However, for you it is not always practical that your personal information is stored decentrally.
To start, you quickly lose sight of which organisations store data about you and also about what these organisations do with your data. For example, when your move house and your address changes, you first have to list all organisations that store your data, log on to your profile at those companies and update all information manually.
Second, you probably have to re-enter the same information multiple times. For example, every time you visit a new web shop, you have to create a new account and enter your delivery address again and again.
Luckily, there is Solid.
Solid is a set of rules that makes it easier to interconnect decentralised data within and between companies and thus helps to create a personal data web.
If companies install a server that follows these rules, many of those issues are resolved.
First, all your data can be easily combined into one virtual vault so you can easily see what happened to your data and even report inappropriate data uses.
Second, when you need to provide your personal details to another party, you can simply share the data that is in your vault. Of course, only if you want to.
This means that Solid allows YOU to interconnect your data while it is still stored decentrally. This way, organisations can still ensure that your data is correct to prevent fraud and you gain more transparency and control.