Today we are well served by many cloud services which provide applications that make our life so well connected: LinkedIn, Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and so on. But they all generally require our individual data to be stored centrally with the cloud service provider. Central data stores by default tend to be accessible by the providers, introducing questions around privacy and security of our data. The whole story became more sinister through the Wikileaks (2012) and Snowdon (2013) disclosures and through the various illegal breaches of corporate data stores that have occurred, including the disclosure of credit card information (e.g., Target 2013) or the whole corporate data store (Sony Pictures in 2014), or the credit card details of some 150 million Americans and British (Equifax 2017), or the Australian telecommunications breech (Optus 2022) and credit provider breech (Latitude 2023).
Even governments that we might trust today can become untrustworthy over time, with the Australian government releasing protected personal data to shame one of their own citizens.
In January 2014 Togaware began work on EcoSysL to deliver a platform and apps that hands control of personal data back to the individual via new APIs dedicated to personalised data access. The risk of widespread and comprehensive compromise, often illegally, is then dramatically reduced.
We developed a framework where data is managed locally by an ecoCryb running on a smart device. All data is encrypted by the ecoCryb and after authentication the encrypted data is sent to an ecoCloud service hosted on the same device or in the cloud (e.g., Nextcloud on Linode). The ecoCloud is the platform for the storage of an individual’s data, and the individual decides how and where this is stored, with solutions to store on their own personal devices (smartphones) or in their homes (e.g., on FreedomBox), but accessible anywhere, anytime, under the individual’s control.
A number of experimental EcoSysL apps were developed. The vision was to provide the same level of services provided by Linked-In, Google, Apple, Facebook, and others—offering the same services on a platform where the individual owner of the data stores personal data themselves, encrypted.
This turned out to be massive undertaking that was beyond the resources of Togaware. However, over time Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the world wide web) was developing technology with a similar goal. The SOLID Project has developed an open server specification that supports the ideals of the EcoSysl. We have retired our work on EcoSysl and are deploying instances of the open source Community Solid Server for our projects. We have also migrated to Flutter for app development.
Visit the Australian Solid Community web site to create a POD and try out some public apps.
A number of demonstrator and template based Flutter POD apps are under development and will be listed here over time:
- podnotes: A template app for taking notes. github
- securedialog: A demo for collecting personal health data. github