CLOUD is the Consortium for Local Ownership and Use of Data. We are a non-profit technology standard consortia [considering both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) status for both our philanthropic work and our future open-source standards]. The Internet recently celebrated its 40th anniversary; HTML has only occupied a little over 15 years of that history. In those 15 years, HTML has moved the Internet away from its roots and made the experience more about web pages than people. CLOUD believes this must change, and that individuals must be put back at the center of the Internet, rather than the many silos that separate us.

At its most basic level, CLOUD re-conceives the information paradigm by starting with data, rather than data systems, and recognizing that people are the logical connection amongst all of this information. Just like we don’t ask which power plant delivered the electrons when we flip a light switch, we shouldn’t have to ask which database delivered the data when we are looking for answers, for connections.

Simply trying to create new pathways between our digital filing cabinets (databases) will not only perpetuate the privacy and security problem but is simply not scalable structurally. There will always be another filing cabinet, another data set, another interoperability challenge. CTML – context markup language – will provide access to a whole new suite of Digital Rights Servers (DRS) with WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE I Am™ “tags.” These new information “dimensions” allow specific pieces of information to be tagged to an individual or a combination of individuals. These individuals will have full control of how much and what information gets accessed or shared. CLOUD’s architecture of CTML and DRS will not replace other standards but instead adds the missing dimensions to resolve privacy, security, identity and data at the deepest architectural levels of the Internet.

As CLOUD’s founder, Gary Thompson, highlighted in his TEDxAustin talk, the birth of the CLOUD vision occurred during he and his wife’s journey to MD Anderson Cancer Center in early 2009 to deal with her recurrence of breast cancer. It was during that journey from Austin to Houston that today’s most vexing issues of privacy, security and data came too close for comfort. As the next several months unfolded, it became clear that these issues were bigger than just healthcare and bigger than any one country. It became clear that a new approach was necessary. CLOUD is that approach.