World Wide Web inventor wants new ‘contract’ to make web safe

Sir Tim Berners Lee

Sir Tim Berners Lee

Berners-Lee highlighted studies showing that half of the world population will be online by next year - but the rate of take-up was slowing considerably, potentially leaving billions cut off from government services, education and public debate.

Berners-Lee on Monday revealed a new campaign called "Contract for the Web" at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal. It's already amassed a wealth of supporters, including Google, Facebook, Innovation Award victor and Young Global Leader honoree Mariéme Jamme, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, and many more.

"Everything we do ... to make the web more powerful, it means we increase the digital divide", Berners-Lee, 63, told the opening of the ninth edition of the Web Summit, dubbed "the Davos for geeks", that attracts up to 70,000 people. The "Contract for the Web" is a set of principles seemingly created to make the internet a better place amid growing concerns emancipating from a wide array of issues from hate speech to political manipulation.

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.

Ensure everyone can connect to the internet so that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online.

In 2016 the United Nations passed a resolution to make disruption of internet access a violation of human rights.

So everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst so the web really is a public good that puts people first.

So the web has rich and relevant content for everyone. It's important to fight for an internet that is "a global public resource for people everywhere".

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.

However, as the Web approaches nearly 50% of the world's population as users, Berners-Lee is not convinced that these principles are being upheld or that his original ideals for the Web are being protected.

In addition, Berners-Lee has also recently established a small startup called Inrupt, which will promote uptake of an open-source project called Solid - both of which allow users to take control of their own data.

When the Web was created, Berners-Lee was clear in his ambition for it to be an open, free and ubiquitous platform for all.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) being built upon easy, open access to the internet, the possibility of such traffic being throttled or blocked, and related businesses potentially being held to ransom for greater networking fees, introduces great uncertainty.

The Contract for the Web isn't about (the concentration of power in big tech companies).

"If we spend a certain amount of time using the internet we have to spend a little proportion of that time defending it, worrying about it, looking out for it..."

"People in the big companies are concerned about truth and democracy".

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