RSA Conference: Tim Berners-Lee talks about need for personal data management

News by Dan Raywood

Users should be able to control their information and store it as they wish.

Users should be able to control their information and store it as they wish.

Delivering the closing speech at the RSA Conference Europe, Tim Berners-Lee complained that personal data is often not controlled by the "owner", and when it is given to a third party it is often hard to know who it is ultimately shared with.

He said: “You share information with a third party – who are they? It is very dysfunctional.”

He suggested a form of cloud-based storage for the home. “It doesn't have to be big. I will use it for messages, applications with a GPS trail and real data. Even if I have to pay a small fee for that, I would like control over that. That is the concept of identity on the web,” he said.

“I want to put a name on it, give each section a colour and give it a section for family, a section for personal items and section for work stuff to make it easier – but we see data controlled and who is it accessed by? I want to set up policies, but I do not have time for access control; I want it to be easy to see them as they are.”

In a question-and-answer session, Berners-Lee was asked, if he could step back 20 years, what he would do to make the web secure? He said: “There is no single way to flip it from being insecure to secure because the world is not like that. It is really worth trying to find something that does make it as secure as possible, but there is no magic bullet.”

Finally, he was asked what he would like to see the security professional sector achieve. He responded bluntly with "fix it!".

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