Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Web pioneer wants new contract for internet

Web pioneer wants new 'contract' for internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee launches 'Magna Carta for the web' to save internet from abuse
Katie Ramirez | 07 November, 2018, 21:58

The inventor of the World Wide Web, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee on Monday lamented the debasement of the world wide web, since he founded it nearly 30 years ago.

Berners-Lee, 63, called on governments, companies and citizens to iron out a "complete contract" for the web that will make the internet "safe and accessible" for all by May 2019, the date by which 50 percent of the world will be online for the first time.

"For many years there was a feeling that the wonderful things on the web were going to dominate and we'd have a world with less conflict, more understanding, more and better science, and good democracy".

"We have problems with privacy, abuse of personal data, people can be profiled in a way that they can be manipulated by clever ads".

Berners-Lee told the opening of the Europe's largest technology conference that everyone had assumed his breakthrough in 1989, that connected humanity to technology, would lead to good things - and it had for a while. "If you are a social networking company you make sure that (...) you allow people to control their data", he said in an interview ahead of the launch.

Employees of Google, Facebook, and other tech giants have also voiced similar concerns publicly over the past few months.

Berners-Lee calls the contract a "Magna Carta for the web".

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It is in this context that the creator defends this "contract", which has the motto "By the Web" (or as hashtag '#fortheweb), in order to create values of equity and safety for all internet users.

The two firms now have direct influence over almost three-quarters of all internet traffic thanks to the vast amounts of apps and services they own such as YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Another pet project of Berners-Lee is to decentralise the web, something that would naturally involve defanging the likes of Facebook and Google, which exert a ton of influence over the internet. It also criticized the fact that "billions" of people have to connect to the Web through "a small handful of huge companies". The contract is based on a set of nine guiding principles, three from each sector - government, business, and people. "I think they're engaging at the top levels, and we will judge them according to their actions", Lovett said.

For this edition, the third in Lisbon, the organization has already promised "the biggest and the best" ever, with news on the program and space enlargement, with more than 70 thousand participants expected from 170 countries.

So what is your take on the issue? "If you sign up to the principles, you can't do censorship", said Berners-Lee. Depending on where you live, you've likely seen your government make some dubious-if-not-outright (far-right?) authoritarian choices in regard to how the Internet works.

Personal data isn't as valuable to companies as one might expect, he added.

One serves as a reminder that the freedom we enjoy on the Internet today will always be in the crosshairs of those who seek power and profit. At the same time we have an obligation to help the others get online.

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