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Berners-Lee: Demand Google, Facebook Give Your Data Back

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with being the father of the web, has been venting a good deal recently.

Yesterday, he spoke out against the government's move to increase its online snooping powers, warning that it was a very dangerous road to travel down. And in another interview with the Guardian, he's now had a bit of a pop at the big data miners on the net.

He's urged the users of the big data collectors, such as Google and Facebook, to demand their data back. In other words, that users should have easy access to said data in order to derive benefit themselves, so at least they're getting something back from the data hoard detailing aspects of their lives which is amassed on a server somewhere.

Berners-Lee told the Guardian: "One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don't ... There are no programmes that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me."

He did note that companies are improving in respect of data access, and that Google now offers a user immediate access. Facebook, too, will send over the data it holds on you, but it might take as long as three months to recover the lot, not exactly a snappy process.

In an ideal world, Berners-Lee would like to see data outputs from websites standardised, and the home computer given easy access to them. Our computers would then be able to use that data to make suggestions based on our habits.

Berners-Lee imagines a world in which his PC or Mac will "know not only what's happening out there but also what I've read already and also what my mood is, and who I'm meeting later on."

Closed apps and walled gardens of content, a la Apple and Facebook, are a threat to the open net, and the prospect of such systems, he argues.

Of course, such a scheme of personal data being fed to home computers would, naturally enough, require a level of security, not just openness.

Source: The Guardian (opens in new tab)

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.