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Man who invented the World Wide Web is unhappy with how the internet has shaped up

Sohini Mitter
6th Nov 2018
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Sir Tim Beners-Lee never envisaged the internet would one day be faced with threats like data breaches, hate speech, “fake news” and so on.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who’s regarded as the inventor of the internet, reckons the web has undergone a “big change” since he created it 30 years ago.

Speaking to CNBC at a tech summit, Berners-Lee said, “For a long time, 20 years, I thought all I had to do was keep it, just keep it free and open and people will do wonderful things. Then in fact if you look and talk to people on the street now, there’s been a big change. I think this has been a tipping point.”

Image: The Verge

He observed the internet today is faced with threats such as data breaches, hate speech, “fake news”, tech monopolies, and more, which he had never envisaged three decades ago.

“If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have said humanity is going to do a good job with this. If we connect all these people together, they are such wonderful people, they will get along. I was wrong,” he said.

Berners-Lee wants to fix the broken internet and has, through his World Wide Web Foundation, released a “Contract for the Web” that includes guidelines for corporations, governments, and citizens such that they ensure an “open web” for all.

“The web is for everybody, and so if the web is for everyone the contract has got to be for everyone,” he said.

The Contract released by the World Wide Web Foundation requires all governments to treat privacy as a fundamental human right. The foundation estimates that over 1.5 billion people currently live in countries which has no concrete laws on personal data protection. And that ought to change, in Berners-Lee’s opinion.

Big corporates like Google and Facebook have been under the scanner for meddling with user data. The EU fined Google for $5.1 billion earlier this year.

Last week, Berners-Lee told Reuters that giant tech corporations like Google and Facebook may have to be “broken up” to mitigate the “danger of concentration”.

His thoughts were echoed by Donald Trump in a recent interview. The US President said that his administration was “looking at” antitrust action against these big tech companies. “A neutral internet is at the heart of the web’s founding and its subsequent success and popularity,” Berners-Lee’s contract stated.

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