Togaware is a Privacy First company with a focus on personal data governance and data sovereignty. Your data is your data and you are the only one who should have access to all of your data. You decide who to share your data with, when, and for how long. Indeed, by sharing your data you should also reap the rewards that those with whom you share your data gain from your data. We build apps that support data sovereignty through the technology of the Solid Project with secure personal online data stores (PODs) hosted on any of the available Community Solid Servers, including the Solid Australia community server hosted by Togaware.

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. The traditional vendors take a centralised data-collection approach, requiring our individual data to be stored and controlled centrally by them. Central data stores tend to be accessible only by the providers, introducing questions around privacy and security of our own personal 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 whole corporate data stores being breached (Sony Pictures in 2014), or the credit card details of some 150 million Americans and Britons (Equifax 2017), or the Australian telecommunications breach (Optus 2022) and credit provider breach (Latitude 2023).

Even governments that we might trust today can become untrustworthy over time. In a recent example, the Australian government chose to release an individual's personal data that it held to shame one of their own citizens. Alternatively they might introduce legislation the requires backdoors be implanted within apps so that they (and, unfortunately, the criminally intent) can access your otherwise encrypted data (read about mass surveillance in Australia).

And that is simply to scratch the surface. See the chapter on privacy in the Data Science Desktop Survival Guide for further examples.

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 was managed locally by an ecoCryb running on a smart device. All data was encrypted by the ecoCryb and after authentication the encrypted data was sent to an ecoCloud service hosted on the same device or in the cloud (e.g., Nextcloud on Linode). The ecoCloud was to be 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 into a potentially 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 now developed an open server specification that supports the ideals of the EcoSysl. Consequently, we have retired our work on EcoSysl and are deploying instances of the open source Community Solid Server for our projects.

Visit the Australian Solid Community web site to create a POD and try out some public apps.

We have also migrated to Flutter for app development. This open source Google project targets cross platform development of apps delivering on the write once deploy anywhere mantra. A number of demonstrator and template based Flutter POD apps are available with more in the pipeline. Visit the Solid Community, Australia, for details.

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