January 22, 2019

World Wide Web inventor wants a new contract for the Internet

09 November 2018, 09:02 | Cameron Gross

Sir Tim was speaking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon Credit AP

Sir Tim Berners Lee

The inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, on Monday announced plans for a "contract" to ensure the internet remains "safe and accessible" for all.

"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".

Its starter principles define the responsibilities that governments, companies and citizens each hold, to create a better web.

On the other hand, companies will look forward to making the Internet more affordable.

The contract has been backed by the likes of Google, Facebook, Sir Richard Branson, Gordon Brown, Nesta, and The IO Foundation.

The news comes days after London-born computer scientist Berners-Lee - credited for helping to invent the web in 1989 - voiced his disappointment with the current state of the internet, following scandals describing abuse of personal data and the use of social media to spread hate.

Berners-Lee said the full terms of the contract would be agreed in the coming months, with the objective to finalize it in May 2019 - the 50/50 moment when more than half of the world's population will be online for the first time. We need to make sure that the people that are connected to the Web, that the Web allows them to produce the Web that they want, the world that they want. They thought 'there'll be good and bad, that is humanity, but if you connect humanity with technology, great things will happen.

So the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.

"We are encouraging governments, companies and citizens around the world to commit to these principles, and to help protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone", the contract read.

Under the contract, citizens must also support building strong online communities "that respect civil discourse and human dignity".

These principles are backed by the organisation's Case for the Web report.

He explained that the world is at a point where nearly half the population is online.

Online abuse, discrimination, political manipulation and much more have overtaken the Internet by a large, which is why the father of the Internet wants to save the web.

"We've lost control of our personal data and that data is being weaponised against us". This is increasingly important as the internet becomes an unconscious part of the fabric of our daily lives. The genie may seem to have come out of the bottle, but the internet has surprised us many times.

Interestingly, big tech such as Facebook, despite signing the contract, have actioned against the contract.

Since net neutrality was repealed in the U.S. at the end of 2017, fears have grown around what this might mean for end-users and businesses alike.

Those that do fork-out a premium for prioritised traffic, in this scenario, contribute to an ecosystem that creates unfair advantages and reduced consumer power and choice - putting small businesses and start-ups at the mercy of established companies with bigger pockets.

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