Solid (SOcial LInked Data) is a new framework for the internet that gives users the ability to create granular sharing agreements, allowing the development of new applications focused on reusing data in a privacy-preserving way. Users can store different types of data in distinct storage spaces: for example, sensitive financial information could be saved in the home, whereas social media data would be in an online cloud. Users can decide how applications access that data, so only authorised apps can do so.
Tim Berners Lee, creator of the Word Wide Web, and the MIT lab have been developing this technology since 2016 in an effort to “re-decentralise the web”. With Solid, every user owns their data, so if an individual becomes dissatisfied with a service, they can just take their data to another site. Solid also wants to make data expression standardised, so that diverse data types can be shared by completely different services. By linking user data across different applications, Solid aims to achieve a high degree of portability.
According to Solid developer Andrei Sambra: “When you use an app, you basically bring all your history with you, in terms of what kind of brands you like, or what kind of products you like ...What Solid gives developers is this ability to not have to worry about user management, or not to worry about storage management”.
The project is young and no major use cases have been developed yet. The team envisions third parties creating their own apps will drive the expansion of the platform. In the meantime, the team itself has built a series of prototype applications as examples, including a blogging platform, an address book and a profile editor, which are available on the Solid website.