The Social Linked Data (SOLID) server standard is an open standard supporting decentralised data ownership. The work of Inrupt (Tim Berners-Lee and Bruce Schnier) and the Solid Project provides a platform for the recovery of privacy through apps that place your data under your control which is a dramatic contrast to centralising the control of individuals’ data to a few powerful players.
A Solid Server hosts Personal Online Data stores (PODs) which are simply stores of an individual’s own data. Apps can then be developed to save their data to these PODs. The PODs may be hosted by Solid servers in the cloud (e.g., a Ubuntu 22.04 server hosted on Linode for $5/month, as in Section 4.9) or even an individual’s own personal Solid server running at home in their own Freedom Box. Irrespective, the data remains under the management of the individual user rather than the app vendor.
This chapter covers the Community Solid Server (CSS). This server is open source and freely available for anyone to use. It is regarded by the community as an experimental server though it has proved to be relatively robust and quite usable. Unfortuantely, some of the most important aspects of privacy are not (yet) available on the community solid server. For example, there is no encryption of the stored data, so that solid server system administrators can access all of the data in user’s PODs. If the server is compromised then so is all of the data held by the server.
The proprietary Enterprise Solid Server is a commercial offering from Inrupt which addresses some of the privacy goals that have yet to make it to the open source community server. Whilst unfortunate for the community, if you want real (trust no one or TNO) privacy you may need to purchase it, or support the open source efforts to achieve this for everyone, not just those who can afford it.
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