Demand your data from Google and Facebook

World wide web inventor says personal data held online could be used to usher in new era of personalised services.. Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the world wide web, has urged internet users to demand their personal data from online giants such as Google and Facebook to usher in a new era of highly personalised computer services "with tremendous potential to help humanity". Berners-Lee, the British born MIT professor who invented the web three decades ago, says that while there has been an explosion of public data made available in recent years, individuals have not yet understood the value to them of the personal data held about them by different web companies.

In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said: "My computer has a great understanding of my state of fitness, of the things I'm eating, of the places I'm at. My phone understands from being in my pocket how much exercise I've been getting and how many stairs I've been walking up and so on." Exploiting such data could provide hugely useful services to individuals, he said, but only if their computers had access to personal data held about them by web companies. "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."

Berners-Lee, who has been an outspoken defender of the "open internet", said big web companies were beginning to respond to consumer pressure to make users' data more easily recoverable. Google now offers users immediate access to all data it holds on them and Facebook will send users their data, though it may take as long as three months to recover all of it. Once the data outputs from different sites had been standardised, he said, our computers would be able to offer increasingly sophisticated services such as telling us what to read in the morning. "It 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." http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/18/tim-berners-lee-google-facebook

See also Battle for the Internethttp://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/battle-for-the-internet

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